Middleton fast start leaves Craig girls behind
Craig High was behind 23-8 after the first eight minutes and lost to two-time defending Big Eight champion Middleton, 68-50, in a battle of conference co-leaders.
“The game started the way they wanted and not the way we wanted,’’ first-year Craig coach Kerry Storbakken said. “Their pressure gave us some trouble.
“This was our first real test. We hadn’t played anybody like that team.’’
As a result, the Cougars fell to 3-1 in the conference and 4-1 overall. Middleton (5-1, 4-0) grabbed undisputed Big Eight lead in taking advantage of Madison East’s loss to Verona.
Craig actually took a 2-0 lead just 35 seconds into the game when senior center Emily Hinman drove and scored. However, Middleton got the next 15 points as Craig went almost four minutes without scoring.
“When you get in a big hole like that against a good basketball team, that’s tough to overcome,’’ Storbakken said.
The Cougars shot 3-of-12 on field goals in the first quarter and had seven turnovers. Meanwhile, the Cardinals had seven players score and were 8-of-13 from the floor, including four three-pointers.
“That’s as good as we’ve looked all year long,’’ Middleton coach Jeff Kind said. “They’re a very capable offensive team. We do a pretty good job of making teams play our game. We want them to take a quick shot, and I don’t think there were many times they ran their offense.’’
Craig, however, made a game of it. Senior guard Amanda Hamilton scored 10 second-quarter points, and Hinman’s rebound and basket with four seconds left before halftime made it 37-27.
“She’s a strong post player,’’ Middleton senior forward Rachael Eklund said of Hinman.
The Cougars cut the deficit to 39-30 on Hamilton’s three-pointer from the left wing with 5:12 left in the third quarter. With a chance to get even closer, Craig missed three shots on its next possession.
Middleton all-state guard Kerry Gardner then drove and scored with 3:57 left in the quarter and stole the ball on Craig’s next possession. Her three-point play made it 44-30. The Cougars never got closer than 12 after that.
“We had our chances,’’ Storbakken said. “We made some runs. … They always had an answer.’’
Hamilton led the Cougars with 15 points, while Hinman added 13. Craig also committed just 11 turnovers after the first quarter.
“We didn’t quit,’’ Storbakken said. “We can learn a lot from this.’’
The Cougars will find out just how much they’ve learned Thursday night when they host Janesville Parker. Storbakken did learn a couple of things Friday night.
“They are a good basketball team,’’ said Storbakken, who picked the Cardinals to win the Big Eight before the season. “So are we.’’
MIDDLETON 68, CRAIG 50
Craig (50)—Perleberg, 1-0-2; Hamilton, 3-8-15; Crandall, 0-1-1; Storbakken, 1-0-2; van Veldhuisen, 1-0-2; Straw, 2-0-4; O’Donnell, 2-0-6; Marshick, 2-1-5, Hinman, 6-1-13. Totals: 18-11-50.
Middleton (68)—McCauley, 1-1-4; Sullivan, 0-1-1; Hanson, 1-0-2; Passini, 6-1-15; Williams, 2-0-6; Gunderson, 2-1-6; Gardner, 5-4-15; Staples, 0-2-2; Eklund, 5-0-11; Rongstad, 3-0-6. Totals: 25-10-68.
Janesville Craig 8 19 9 14—50
Middleton 23 14 14 17—68
Three-point goals—Craig 3 (O’Donnell 2, Hamilton 1), Middleton 8 (Passini 2, Williams 2, Gunderson 1, Gardner 1, Eklund 1, McCauley 1). Free throws missed—Craig 9, Middleton 6. Total fouls—Craig 18, Middleton 19. Fouled out—Marshick.
Sophomore—Middleton 55, Craig 50. Craigs scoring leaders: Allison Calkins, 16; Maddie Philipps, 15; Nicole Kelly, 12.