Craig girls too much for La Follette
Benson led all scorers with 19 points in pacing Craig High to a surprisingly easy 54-32 victory over the Lancers in the first game of a Big Eight Conference co-ed doubleheader here Tuesday.
Despite its 2-4 record in the Big Eight and 4-5 overall mark, La Follette is among the league leaders in defense. However, Craig exploited the Lancers’ zone with an effective outside attack and broke the game open early in the second quarter with a 9-3 run.
Craig improved to 5-3 in the conference 7-4 overall in preparation for the season’s second half, which begins Friday, Jan. 18, for the Cougars where they host Middleton. Craig will tune up for a rematch against the second-place Cardinals with a makeup home game at 5 p.m. Saturday against Campbellsport.
After an 11-11 first quarter, Craig went to a pressing defense that shut down La Follette until Lancer coach Matt Krall’s players could adjust.
Craig’s surge came from a balanced attack against a much taller La Follette team.
“We had a little inside, a little outside and hit a couple of threes,” said Craig coach Mark Marsden. “Then, in the third quarter, we switched up our defense a little and were able to put it away. In fact, I was pleased with our defense throughout the entire game.”
The Cougars were not intimidated by La Follette’s defensive reputation.
“We played with a lot of confidence,” Marsden said. “This is our fourth straight win. We have a lot of weapons.
“It’s not a matter of just a couple of kids who can score,” he said. “We have six, seven kids who can score for us at any given time.”
Craig held La Follette to just 14 second-half points with an aggressive, swarming defense, yet committed only three second-half fouls.
“We aren’t playing too aggressive. We’re playing smart,” Marsden said when asked how his players could be so stingy and yet nearly foul-free. “We’re trapping and then jumping on the pass. We were blocking out on the boards, giving them just one shot.”
Benson scored six third-quarter points when Craig took a 38-24 lead. The Cougars went 8-for-10 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter while building a 20-point margin they held until the final buzzer.
Benson, a 5-7 senior, was the only player to score in double figures for either team. Craig’s Lauren McQueen came off the bench to score nine, while teammates Danielle Straw and Alexis Hilden each added seven apiece.
Sofia Sanchez, a 5-11 senior, held her own underneath against La Follette’s twin towers, 6-2 Kendra Shillinglaw and 6-1 Crystal Graff.
“She may give up inches, but she can jump, and she’s very physical,” Marsden said when describing Sanchez’s defensive effort. “She’s our best defender, and she always gets the toughest assignment.”
And the Cougars eagerly await the tough assignment of trying to avenge November’s 81-43 loss to Middleton.
“We really got it handed to us up there, but I feel we are greatly improved, and we can compete with them,” Marsden said. “We would not mind helping Parker out by handing Middleton a loss.”
CRAIG 54, LA FOLLETTE 32
La Follette (32)—Temple, 1-4-6; Shillinglaw, 3-0-6; Schwartzer, 2-2-7; Graff, 2-1-5; Wallom, 1-0-3; Brown, 1-0-2; Smith, 0-1-1; Probst, 1-0-2. Totals: 11-8-32.
Craig (54)—Benson, 5-9-19; Sanchez, 2-1-5; Storbakken, 2-0-5; Straw, 2-2-7; Hilden, 2-3-7; McQueen, 1-7-9; Morgan, 1-0-2. Toatls 15-22-54.
Madison La Follette 11 7 6 8—32
Janesville Craig 11 14 13 16—54
Three-point goals—La Follette 2 (Schwartzer, Wallom), Craig 2 (Storbakken, Straw). Free throws missed—La Follette 9, Craig 5. Total fouls—La Follette 19, Craig 10.