Janesville57°

Craig free throws take down West

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Stan Milam/Special to the Gazette
February 2, 2008
— By Stan Milam

Capitol News Service


If good teams make free throws down the stretch, then the Janesville Craig girls are developing into a great team.


Craig High converted 19 points from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter Friday night on its home court and pulled away from Madison West for a 56-42 victory in Big Eight Conference basketball.


The win boosted the Cougars (10-7, 7-6) ahead of West (8-8, 6-6) in the Big Eight and kept them a half-game behind third-place Sun Prairie (7-5), their next opponent.


West’s box-and-one defense, designed to stop Craig point guard Kristy Benson, was effective in the middle two quarters. In fact, the Cougars’ leading scorer was shut down offensively during that stretch.


Meanwhile, West battled back from a 23-17 halftime deficit to within four at 31-27 by the end of the third quarter. That was a credit to the dominating play of 5-foot-11 junior Ellie Pearson, whom Craig coach Mark Marsden described as one of the best players in the conference.


Until Benson got on track in the final quarter, Craig was led by Danielle Straw. She topped all scorers in the first three quarters with eight points.


Marsden said the West zone initially gave his cold-shooting Cougars a problem.


“We solved it by getting it inside, and that opened things up,” Marsden said. “We thought our post players handled that very well.”


Wednesday was a school snow day, preventing any practice, so the Cougars had only Thursday’s practice to get ready for West.


“We had to refocus quickly,” Marsden said. “We talked about the urgency of this game because West was ahead of us in the standings, and they had won their last six games.


“I think we know we are a better team, but we’ve just had a very tough schedule lately,” Marsden said. “We knew we had four straight games ahead of us we knew we could win, and we want to go into the tournament on a winning streak.”


Benson and Pearson shared scoring honors with 13 points apiece, and Straw finished with 12.


Craig had another exceptional game at the free-throw line, connecting on 26 of 37 attempts. Benson had seven free throws in the fourth quarter.


And now it’s on to Sun Prairie next Thursday night and a battle for third place.


“We’ve played very well against some very good teams such as Middleton and Parker, Marsden said. “We’ll be focusing on our final three conference game, knowing we need to win out to get a good seed. But I think we can do very well in the tournament, especially moving onto neutral courts.”


CRAIG 56, WEST 42


West (42)—Corkery, 2-1-7; Pizzingrilli, 4-1-10; Pearson, 3-7-13; Turnquist, 2-0-5; Christianson, 2-3-7. Totals: 13-12-42.


Craig (56)—Benson, 2-9-13; Sanchez, 4-0-8; Storbakken, 2-1-6; Straw, 3-5-12; Hilden, 2-2-6; McQueen, 1-5-7; Oliver, 0-3-3; Hamilton, 0-1-1. Totals: 14-26-56.


Madison West 7 10 10 15—42


Janesville Craig 15 8 8 25—56


Three-point goals—West 4 (Corkery 2, Pizzingrilli, Turnquist), Craig 2 (Storbakken, Straw). Free throws missed—West 7, Craig 11. Total fouls—West 27, Craig 20.


Sophomores—Craig 54, West 36. Craig leading scorers: Lindsey Oliver, 15; Allyson Marshick, 10; Taylor Storbakken, 10. Craig record: 15-2 overall.




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