Middleton pulls away from Cougars
The visiting Cardinals, defending Big Eight co-champions and preseason favorites, took control in the final period and pulled away from a 33-29 edge for a 49-39 victory.
That lifted Middleton to 3-1 in the conference and overall, keeping the Cardinals a game behind first-place Janesville Parker. Craig slipped to 2-2 and 3-2.
In the end, Craig simply couldn't match up with a much-taller Middleton squad.
The Cougars' leading scorer, Anne Morgan, played only about eight minutes after running into foul problems early and then fouling out in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter.
"I wasn't happy with all the calls on my center," said Craig coach Mark Marsden. "What did she play, eight minutes?
"She was called for three offensive fouls under the basket by the same ref," Marsden said. "I'll leave it at that, but when you take our leading scorer out of the game, we had to have kids step up, and they did."
Meanwhile, Middleton's Rachael Eklund had a career night with 26 points. The 5-11 junior forward was simply dominating at the offensive end.
Eklund scored 11 of her points in the fourth quarter, most of them off offensive rebounds she grabbed over the backs of Cougars who had position on her but not the height. She was the only Cardinal in double figures.
Ten Cougars scored, but none in double figures. Whitney Oliver paced Craig with seven points.
The Cardinals had a 30-15 rebounding advantage, including 19 on the offense board.
Middleton appeared ready to put the game out of reach early in the second quarter. After an 11-11 first period, the Cardinals went on a 10-0 run before Craig could score with 3:10 left in the first half.
The Cougars then erased the Middleton advantage with a 10-0 run of their own for a 22-22 halftime tie.
Middleton coach Jeff Kind took advantage of the Cardinals' height advantage.
"We couldn't match up like that, so we used our various versions of a zone trap, and we were able to hang in there against a very, very good team," Marsden said. "To hold Middleton to under 50 points shows how far we have come."
Craig finally was forced to play a man-to-man defense, however, and that's what finished off the Cougars.
MIDDLETON 49, CRAIG 39
Middleton (49)—Flynn, 1-3-5; Gardner, 3-0-9; Eklund, 10-6-26; Rongstad, 1-2-4; Williams, 0-1-1; Passini, 1-2-4. Totals: 16-14-49.
Craig (39)—W. Oliver, 2-1-7; Hamilton, 0-5-5; Kennedy, 2-2-6; Morgan, 1-0-2; Hinman, 2-1-5; Sroda, 2-2-6; L. Oliver, 0-1-1; Smith, 1-0-2; Storbakken, 0-2-2; Straw, 0-3-3. Totals: 10-17-39.
Middleton 11 11 11 16—49
Janesville Craig 11 11 7 10—39
Three-point goals—Middleton 3 (Gardner 3), Craig 2 (W. Oliver 2). Free throws missed—Middleton 11, Craig 5. Total fouls—Middleton 16, Craig 20. Fouled out—Morgan.
Sophomores—Craig 73, Middleton 34. Craig high scorers—Kylee Kennedy, 17; Katie Villa, 11; Krisi Crandall, 10; Emilie O'Donnell, 10.