Craig boys hold off La Follette
But with the game on the line against Madison La Follette, the Cougars used the “boring fundamentals” of defense and clutch free-throw shooting to pull out a 51-48 victory here Tuesday night.
With the old-fashioned win over the state’s eighth-ranked Division 1 team, Craig kept La Follette (7-3, 4-2) from tying Madison Memorial (5-1) for the Big Eight lead. Meanwhile, the Cougars (8-3, 5-3) also kept the heat on second-place Middleton (5-2) and third-place La Follette.
Cooper Cullen and Lucas Burns each had a game-high 14 points for Craig, while JoJo Pregont added 12.
But it was tough Craig defense late in the fourth quarter that finished off the Lancers.
After Cashton Craig’s three-pointer trimmed the Cougars’ lead to 46-43 with two minutes left, Cougars didn’t allow a point in the next 1:44.
During that stretch, Cullen and Pregont each made a free throw to give Craig a seemingly comfortable 48-43 lead. The Lancers never drew closer than three the rest of the way.
“They were a little more aggressive than we were,” La Follette coach Reggie Williams said of the Cougars. “In close games, every possession is huge, and I thought we took a few possessions off, and they (the Cougars) played well.”
Craig, the Lancers’ leading scorer, finished with only 11 points, while D.J. Fuller and Javonte Walters added 11 and 10, respectively.
“We matched up a little bit and tried to play man and take away the gaps, and the kids did a whale of job,” Suter said. “That’s the thing that won the game for us, because it certainly wasn’t our shooting.’’
Suter was referring to the Cougars’ 6-for-25 field-goal shooting in the first half that led to just 19 points—but still a one-point lead for Craig.
“We started out the ball game with the idea of getting the ball inside, and then we come down with our first seven possessions shooting threes,” Suter said. “It’s hard this day and age with kids, because they are enamored with the three and the dunk, and that’s what’s changed basketball the last few years.”
Fortunately for Suter, the Cougars’ strong defense had his team ahead at halftime.
After the teams exchanged 11-2 third-quarter spurts, the Cougars maintained a 35-34 lead at the end of the period.
The game remained close throughout the fourth quarter before the Cougars grabbed the upper hand down the stretch.
“We are pleased with where we are at, but the road gets tougher with Madison Memorial and then Middleton,” Suter said.
CRAIG 51, LA FOLLETTE 48
LaFollette (48)—Craig, 4-0-11; Fuller, 5-1-11; Walters, 4-0-10; Small, 2-0-4; Krueger, 1-0-2; Thompson, 3-0-6; Dybevik, 1-0-2; Redman, 1-0-2. Totals: 21-1-48.
Craig (51)—Cullen, 3-7-14; Roherty, 2-0-6; Burns, 5-4-14; Pregont, 5-2-12; Goike, 2-0-5. Totals: 17-13-51.
Madison LaFollette 10 8 16 14—48
Janesville Craig 7 12 16 16—51
Three-point goals—LaFollette 5 (Craig 3, Walters 2, Craig 4 (Cooper, Roherty 2, Goike). Free throws missed—LaFollette 3, Craig 7. Total fouls—LaFollette 18, Craig 6. Fouled out—Krueger.