Craig’s balance tips Middleton
Lucas Burns led four Cougars in double figures with 18 points as Craig avenged a conference-opening loss to the Cardinals with a 58-51 win.
Craig (9-4, 6-4) opened up a 20-point halftime lead thanks to Cooper Cullen’s 70-foot heave at the buzzer. Middleton (7-6, 5-4) tried to make things interesting late, but could pull no closer than the final margin.
After losing by 12 at Middleton, Craig coach Bob Suter was pleased with how his team responded on its home court.
“We’ll take it, especially the way the Big Eight is this season,” Suter said of the win. “That’s quite a turnaround from the first time we played them.
“There are still things to work on. We’d look good on five or six straight possessions, and then turn around and throw the ball away or take a bad shot. Those are correctable errors, though.”
Craig led by seven after the first quarter and quickly pushed the lead to double digits in the second. Burns’ three-point basket with 5:01 left in the half capped off an 8-0 run to start the second as Craig opened up a 23-8 lead. The Cougars ended up outscoring the Cardinals 21-8 in the second, and defensively, played their best half of the season.
Middleton misfired on 20-of-26 shots in the first half, including a woeful 3-for-16 in the second quarter.
“Our defense dominated the first half, especially on the boards,” Suter said. “Jo Jo (Pregont) was a monster on the glass, and I also thought (Kyle) Goike got some key rebounds as well.”
Pregont, a 6-foot-6 high-flying junior, finished with a game-high 17 rebounds and added 10 points. Cullen finished with 15 points and Goike chipped in with 10.
Joe Dean was the only Cardinal in double figures—finishing with 16 points.
With his team splitting a pair of games over the weekend, Suter knows the topsy-turvy Big Eight Conference race will be interesting the second half of the season.
“You take Madison Memorial out of the mix, and on any given night, anybody can beat anybody else in this league,” Suter said. “That’s why you have to be ready to play from the opening tip, and we were tonight.”
CRAIG 58, MIDDLETON 51
Middleton (51)—Kruckenberg, 2-0-5; Braga, 2-0-5; Dean, 7-1-16; Stubbe, 1-1-4; Nunnery, 1-2-4; Mertes-Mistretta, 2-0-6; Lochner, 4-0-9; Hudson, 1-0-2. Totals: 20-4-51.
Craig (58)—Roherty, 1-0-3; Cullen, 3-8-15; Goike, 3-2-10; Pregont, 3-4-10; Burns, 8-1-18; Kennedy, 1-0-2. Totals: 19-15-58.
Middleton 8 8 16 19—51
Janesville Craig 15 21 13 9—58
Three-point goals—Middleton 7 (Mertes-Mistretta 2, Kruckenberg, Stubbe, Braga, Lochner, Dean), Craig 5 (Goike 2, Burns, Cullen, Roherty). Free throws missed—Middleton 2, Craig 9. Total fouls—Middleton 18, Craig 13. Fouled out—Mertes-Mistretta.
Sophomores—Middleton 58, Craig 28.