Sun Prairie lives up to Miller's assessment
Madison Memorial already has clinched at least a share of its eighth straight championship.
Janesville Craig coach Mike Miller, however, thought Sun Prairie was the most talented team in the conference coming into the season.
The Cardinals validated Miller’s point here Thursday night. Nick Fuller scored 22 points, and Chris Hawkins added 18 to lead Sun Prairie to a 67-57 win over Craig High in a conference and regular-season finale.
The Cougars (6-16, 4-14) fell behind by 10 after the first quarter, and despite cutting the lead to four in the third quarter, could not recover from a slow start.
Playing at full strength for the first time all season, Sun Prairie’s athleticism and size caused the Cougars fits.
“I’ve said all along that personnel-wise, they have the best personnel in the Big Eight,” Miller said of the Cardinals, who improved to 17-5 overall and finished third with a 14-4 conference record. “They’ve had injuries off and on, so they haven’t been healthy. But when they’re healthy, like tonight, they’re a real good basketball team.
“And our guys hung tough. We made good cuts to the basket, stuck with it and made some good plays. They were just a little better.”
Sun Prairie had a 10-point lead after the first quarter was up 34-22 at half.
The Cougars, behind a 13-5 run to start the second half, cut the lead to 39-35 on Nate Brault’s layup with 2:59 left in the third quarter. The teams traded baskets the rest of the quarter with Sun Prairie leading 47-41 after three.
A 10-2 run by the Cardinals to start the fourth pushed the lead back to 14, and the Cougars got no closer than eight the rest of the game.
Brault led the Cougars with 14 points. Cody Dare added 12, and Joey Sarow had 10.
Craig hosts Lake Geneva Badger on Tuesday night in a WIAA Division 1 regional opener.
“We’re ready to play with anyone,” Miller said. “That doesn’t mean we’re going to beat everyone, but we’re playing our best basketball of the season right now. As long as we play hard, like we’ve been, that’s all I can ask.”
SUN PRAIRE 67, CRAIG 57
Sun Prairie (67)—Noskowiak, 4-2-12; Fuller, 6-8-22; Hawkins, 7-4-18; Opps, 1-0-2; Mifflin, 1-1-3; Yantz, 2-0-4; Saffold, 0-2-2; Wallace, 2-0-4. Totals: 23-17-67.
Craig (57)—Sarow, 4-2-10; Johnson, 2-1-5; Dare, 5-1-12; Pickarts, 3-0-8; Wright, 3-0-6; Brault, 6-0-14; Cooney, 1-0-2. Totals: 24-4-57.
Sun Prairie 15 19 13 20—67
Janesville Craig 5 17 19 16—57
Three-point goals—Sun Prairie 4 (Fuller 2, Noskowiak 2), Craig 5 (Pickarts 2, Brault 2, Dare). Free throws missed—Sun Prairie 7, Craig 6. Total fouls—Sun Prairie 12, Craig 19. Fouled out—Sarow.
Sophomores—Sun Prairie 61, Craig 57. Craig finishes the season 16-6 overall and 12-6 in the Big Eight. Craig leading scorers: Paul Foster, 21; Jeremiah Ngobi, 10.