Slow start hurts Janesville Craig
The Stoughton Vikings led 11-0 after the first quarter en route to a 45-34 nonconference victory in the Madison Edgewood Holiday Classic.
Craig is 1-9 overall. Stoughton is 8-1.
The Cougars missed nine shots in the first quarter, while Stoughton’s deliberate offense made five of 12, including a three-pointer, to take the early lead. Craig battled to get back into the game, but never held the lead.
Brett Pickarts and Paul Foster scored 10 points apiece for Craig. Stoughton’s Cole Brusegar scored 11 points to lead all scorers, while teammate Conner Kowalkowski added 10 points.
“We had trouble putting the ball in the basket the whole game,” Craig coach Mike Miller said. “We just didn’t flow very well offensively, and when we didn’t score early, we started to force shots. We didn’t work the ball very well and trust each other.’’
The Cougars made 15 of 47 shots (31 percent). Stoughton made 15 of 35 (42 percent), but made 12 of 16 free throws in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.
Stoughton rolled to a 19-4 lead before Craig came to life. The Cougars trailed 19-9 at the half, and gained 13-10 advantage in the third quarter to trail 29-22. Pickarts scored seven of his 10 points in the third quarter to lead Craig’s surge.
Miller thought the Cougars did a good job of keeping the Vikings’ inside players, 6-foot-5 senior Max Fuller and 6-6 senior Gus Giese, under control.
“Our post players did a very good job of defending them,” Miller said. “Nineteen points in the first half is a very good defensive half. I wasn’t disappointed defensively. I thought it was more our lack of offense.’’
The Cougars cut the deficit to 31-26 on Paul Foster’s put back early in the fourth quarter, but the Vikings made it to the bonus and made 11 of 13 free throws down the stretch to lead 44-30 with 1 minute, 26 seconds to play.
“We shoot a whopping 55 percent from the free throw line as a team,” Stoughton coach Matt Hockett said. “I told the guys, if we can ever find a way to clean that up, we would put ourselves in a better position to win games.’’
The Cougars have to find a way to victory, too.
“We have get everyone back,” said Miller, clicking off Jerry Ngobi, Zach Olson, Joe Sarow and Will Eden as key players missing or not a full strength.
STOUGHTON 45, CRAIG 34
Janesville Craig (34)—Cooney, 3-1-7; Pickarts, 4-2-10; Foster, 5-0-10; Cook, 0-1-1; Wright, 1-0-2; Roth, 2-0-4. Totals: 15-3-34.
Stoughton (45)—Liggett, 1-0-2; Kowalkowski, 3-4-10; Brusegar, 4-3-11; Schultz, 1-3-6; Graffin, 3-0-7; Fuller, 2-2-7; Giese, 1-0-2. Totals: 25-12-45.
Janesville Craig 0 9 13 12—34
Stoughton 11 8 10 16—45
Three-point goals—Craig 1 (Cooney), Stoughton 3 (Schultz, Graffin, Fuller). Free throws missed—Craig 1, Stoughton 8. Total fouls—Craig 19, Stoughton 9. Fouled out—Wright.