Verona's Ziemer ruins script
JANESVILLE Janesville Craig High School honored retiring boys basketball coach Bob Suter on Thursday night with a fitting pre-game tribute.
Jason Ziemer spoiled any postgame party plans.
Ziemer, a smooth 6-foot-4 senior, scored 30 points to lead Verona to a comfortable 71-53 win over the Cougars in the Big Eight Conference and regular-season finale.
The Wildcats (13-7, 12-6) led 35-34 at halftime, but behind 12 third-quarter points from Ziemer, opened up a double-digit lead early in the second half. Ziemer earned the conference scoring championship.
Suter, who was coaching his final regular-season home game, said Craig’s defense was non-existent for most of the game.
“Instead of getting your butt down and playing good defense, we like to stand around and watch,” Suter said. “In today’s game, you have to be able to move your feet (defensively), and sprint up and down the court.
“We played pretty good for a half, and then we stood around the second half and felt sorry for ourselves because I got on them a little bit at halftime.”
Ziemer made sure the Cougars couldn’t script a memorable ending for the school’s longtime successful coach. Ziemer outscored Craig 12-7 in the third quarter as Verona pushed the lead to 16 heading into the final quarter.
The Wildcats began the third with an 8-1 run and finished with a 10-4 surge capped off by Ziemer’s runner in the lane with 1:10 left in the quarter. The Cougars had seven turnovers in the third to match their point total.
Verona coach Al Buss, whose team was coming off a disappointing 78-66 loss to Sun Prairie, said Thursday’s victory was bittersweet.
“I have so much respect for Coach Suter and all he has done for basketball in the state,” Buss said. “This was a tough atmsophere to play in tonight, but I thought we handled it pretty well.
“Our defense was the difference in the second half. And coming into the tournament, it comes down to your half-court defense. When we’re playing our best, we feel like we can compete with anybody in our sectional.”
Seniors Brad Cagney and A.J. Fredricks led the Cougars (9-11, 8-10) with 11 points each, while senior JoJo Pregont added six points, seven blocks and 11 rebounds before fouling out.
With WIAA Division 1 play beginning Tuesday night at home for the Cougars against Westosha Central, Suter hopes his team learned a valuable lesson by watching Verona perfectly execute its half-court offense.
“They were comfortable all night running that offense,” Suter said. “They’re constantly moving, and always looking for the open man.
“If we run our offense like we’re supposed to, and are consistent on the defensive end, we’ll be OK. We’ll see how we respond on Tuesday.”
VERONA 71, CRAIG 53
Verona (71)—Platto, 2-1-7; Karls, 4-2-12; Ziemer, 13-4-30; Wadzinski, 3-1-7; Nauman, 2-0-5; Ropel, 2-1-5; Christensen, 1-0-2; Riebau, 0-1-1; Malofsky, 1-0-2. Totals: 28-10-71.
Craig (53)—Cagney, 4-0-11; Kennedy, 3-1-7; Fredricks, 4-3-11; Goike, 3-1-9; Pregont, 3-0-6; Wright, 2-0-4; Clanfield, 0-1-1; Lowe, 1-0-2; Bates, 1-0-2. Totals: 21-6-53.
Verona 17 18 22 14—71
Janesville Craig 16 18 7 12—53
Three-point goals—Verona 5 (Platto 2, Karls 2, Nauman), Craig 5 (Cagney 3, Goike 2). Free throws missed—Verona 4, Craig 8. Total fouls—Verona 15, Craig 16. Fouled out—Pregont.
Sophomores—Verona 55, Craig 51. Craig finished 10-10 overall 9-9 in the Big Eight. Craig leading scorers: Cody Dare 17, Andy Kyle 11.