Middleton takes control of Craig girls
Third-ranked Middleton took control of a 9-9 game against eighth-ranked Janesville Craig late in the first quarter. The Cardinals exploded on a 12-2 run and never trailed again as they continued their flawless march through the conference by cruising to a 64-45 victory.
While first-place Middleton improved to 13-0 in the conference and 16-1 overall, second-place Craig fell to 10-3 and 14-3.
Junior Kirsten Gunderson led a balanced attack for Middleton with 15 points. Junior Mika Passini scored nine points, while seniors Kerry Gardner, Rachael Eklund and Rachel Rongstad each scored eight.
“We came out and got that lead. The second quarter just killed us,” said Craig coach Kerry Storbakken. “We weren’t helping ourselves, throwing the ball all over the gym.
“We didn’t play our best game tonight. But you know, they’re a good team. Give them some credit.
“It usually takes two things to make one team play bad, and partly us and a lot of credit goes to Middleton.”
Middleton coach Jeff Kind liked how his team responded after Craig jumped out to an early lead.
“I was pleased that we came out in the first half and took control of the game a little bit,” he said. “We just kind of hung on from there, and we never really got threatened too much.
“I think we got a little sloppy with the ball handling in the second half and didn’t really put them away but managed to hang onto our lead.”
Craig senior standout Amanda Hamilton was held in check, finishing with just six points and fouling out with 4:39 left in the game.
Senior Emily Hinman paced Craig with eight points, while senior Emily Legreid added seven.
Hamilton was coming off an impressive 27-point performance against Madison La Follette, where she knocked down six three-pointers. However, the swarming Cardinal defense shut her down and forced the Cougars into several turnovers in the decisive second quarter.
The Cougars were outscored 20-10 in the quarter and faced a 33-19 halftime deficit.
Middleton continued its domination in the third quarter, opening up a 20-point lead midway through the period, and cruised the rest of the way to its 16th straight win.
As for Craig, the Cougars can look ahead to another key game this week.
“The next game happens to be Parker,” Storbakken said of the cross-town rival. “We learn from every game. Like I told the girls, they played hard, they’re 14-3, they’re a good basketball team.
“We’ll go over to Parker, and again our kids will give a great effort. They’ll play hard. We’ll get back to practice on Monday, and we’ll fix some things.”