Talented Memorial leaves Cougars behind
Whether it’s corralling rebounds, creating steals or putting points on the scoreboard, Memorial is quick in all phases of the game.
Unfortunately for Janesville Craig, the fourth-ranked Spartans also were quick to overtake the Cougars. Memorial used a 19-5 run to close out the first quarter for a 24-9 lead en route to a 71-56 victory in a Big Eight Conference game here Thursday night.
“They are just so athletic and quick, they can go on a 20-0 tangent,” Craig guard Cooper Cullen said. “They get that momentum, and are just hard to stop.”
And despite a 57-55 loss to Beloit when the Spartans weren’t at full strength in December, there seems to be no stopping Memorial in its bid for a fifth straight Big Eight championship. In beating Craig for a staggering 14th straight time, the first-place Spartans improved to 7-1 in the conference and 9-2 for the season.
Craig (8-4, 5-4) shot 50 percent on field-goal attempts in its bid to take down the Spartans, but Memorial shot 53 percent. The Spartans also owned the boards, gathering 32 rebounds to just 11 for the Cougars.
Those second-chance opportunities denied Craig any chance of mounting a comeback. Jeronne Maymon, the Spartans’ 6-foot, 6-inch junior center, led the way with 23 points— most of those inside the paint. Sophomore Vander Blue added 12 points, and Devonte Maymon had 10.
Cullen led the Cougars with 20 points. Lucas Burns added 13, and Kyle Goike had 11.
Jeronne Maymon had 12 points in Memorial’s first-quarter blitz. His outburst included a dunk, a three-pointer and three-point play as the Spartans finished off the quarter by scoring on seven straight possessions.
“There are times that we can compete with the best in the state,” Memorial coach Steve Collins said. “Then there are times when I wonder if we can even score a basket. That is partly being a young team.”
That’s a young and talented team that denied Craig from mounting a second-half comeback.
The Cougars narrowed the gap to eight points three times in the third quarter. The last time, on a jumper from Cullen with 5:15 remaining, cut the lead to 43-35. Blue then responded with a runner in the lane, and Ace Davis added lay-up to start an 11-5 run that denied Craig’s final threat.
“They just killed us on the boards,” Craig coach Bob Suter said. “I was proud of our kids because they battled, but when you get beat 32-11 on the boards, that’s pretty tough to overcome.”
MEMORIAL 71, CRAIG 56
Craig (56)—Cullen, 8-3-20; Goike, 3-2-11; Pregont, 3-1-7; Burns, 5-2-13; Craig, 1-0-2; Cagney, 1-0-3. Totals: 21-8-56.
Memorial (71)—Henderson, 1-0-2; Ringhand, 3-0-6; Nkemnji, 3-2-8; Jones, 1-0-2; V. Maymon, 5-0-10; Blue, 5-2-12; Davis, 4-0-8; Je. Maymon, 10-2-23. Totals: 32-6-71.
Janesville Craig 9 17 16 14—56
Madison Memorial 24 13 17 17—71
Three-point goals—Craig 6 (Cullen, Goeke 3, Burns, Cagney), Memorial 1 (Je. Maymon). Free throws missed—Craig 7, Memorial 3. Total fouls—Craig 11, Memorial 11.
Sophomores—Memorial 51, Craig 39.