Craig girls to play for tournament title
The second half has been a nightmare for much of the season for Janesville Craig’s girls basketball team.
Friday night it was anything but that.
Craig erupted for 40 points in the final 16 minutes en route to a 69-34 win over West Allis Hale in the second game of the Janesville Optimist Classic in the Cougar gym.
The Cougars (4-4) will play Oregon in tonight’s title game at 7:45.
Alexis Hilden led four Cougars in double figures with 12 points, as Craig finally exorcized the second-half demons.
“We’ve been waiting for this,” Craig coach Mark Marsden said of his team’s strong second half. “In our three Big Eight losses, we were bad in the second half. We talked about that at halftime tonight, and then came out and played very well.
“It started with our defense, I that allowed us to get some easy transition baskets. And I really thought Alexis stepped up her game tonight.”
Hilden, a 5-foot-11 senior, made her first start of the season and responded with her game-high 12 points. She had 10 in the fourth quarter as Craig went on a 17-0 run to open up went on a 17-0 run to open up a bulging 65-30 lead.
Hale (2-5), which finished 0-21 a year ago, kept things close early on before freshman Amanda Hamilton and senior Danielle Straw hit back-to-back three-pointers to end the first quarter to give Craig a 17-12 lead. That’s as close as the Huskies would get the rest of the way.
Craig led by seven at halftime and quickly pushed the lead to 15 midway through the third quarter. Whitney Storbakken, who finished with 10 points for Craig, had eight in the third. The junior hit back-to-back jumpers to give the Cougars a 44-26 lead with 1:13 left to play in the third.
Marsden cleared his bench in the fourth with his team comfortably ahead.
“I liked the fact that we didn’t put everything on Kristy’s (Benson) shoulders tonight,” Marsden said of the team’s leading scorer who finished with 10. “We got everybody involved offensively, and I really like the spark that Lauren McQueen gave us off the bench tonight.
“Oregon will be a much tougher test tomorrow, but we did some good things tonight that I hope we can build off of.”
CRAIG 69, WEST ALLIS HALE 34
Hale (34)—Grayson, 3-1-8; Knitter, 1-2-4; Sujecki, 4-2-10; Cincotta, 1-0-2; Kraus, 0-1-1; Mettelmann, 2-1-5; Rindahl, 1-0-2; Acker, 1-0-2. Totals: 13-7-34.
Craig (69)—McQueen, 2-3-7; Benson, 4-2-10; Sanchez, 2-2-6; Storbakken, 5-0-10; Straw, 4-2-11; Morgan, 3-2-8; Hilden, 5-2-12; Hamilton, 1-0-3; Oliver, 0-2-2. Totals: 26-15-69.
West Allis Hale 12 10 6 6—34
Janesville Craig 17 12 17 23—69
Three-point goals—Hale 1 (Grayson), Craig 2 (Straw, Hamilton). Free throws missed—Hale 10, Craig 7. Total fouls—Hale 18, Craig 13.
Sophomores—Craig 64, Hale 42. Craig is 7-1 overall. Craig leading scorers: Kelsey Kennedy, 14; Taylor Storbakken, 11.
Oregon 62, West Bend West 46—Laura Atkinson scored eight of her 12 points in the first quarter as the Panthers advanced to tonight’s championship game against Craig.
Cayla Crowley led the Panthers with 14 points and Jenny Rietzlek added 12.
OREGON 62, WEST BEND WEST 46
West Bend West (46)—Hughes, 4-2-10; Farrand, 3-1-7; Hayes, 6-10-22; Krell, 1-0-2; Schroedl, 1-0-2; Stahl, 1-1-3. Totals: 16-14-46.
Oregon (62)—Crowley, 4-5-14; Gundlach, 2-2-7; Atkinson, 5-2-12; Hanson, 3-3-9; Cook, 3-2-8; Rietzlek, 5-2-12. Totals: 22-16-62.
W. Bend West 8 16 7 15—46
Oregon 19 11 18 14—62
Three-point goals—Oregon 2 (Crowley, Gundlach). Free throws missed—West 11, Oregon 9. Total fouls—West 24, Oregon 18. Fouled out—Hughes.