Janesville Craig girls wins tug-of-war
With Janesville Craig clinging to a one-point lead with 15 seconds remaining, the Cougars’ point guard missed the front end of her two free throws, then stepped back from the line and tugged at her uniform in disgust.
After re-grouping, the senior made her second attempt, and Craig High withstood two Madison East attempts in the final seconds to hold on for the 45-43 victory in a key Big Eight Conference girls basketball game.
“I’ve made all my free throws in the last three or so games, so it was frustrating when I missed,” Hamilton said of the back-and-forth contest, which had 10 lead changes.’’
In the end, Craig emerged with an 8-1 season record and 5-1 conference mark that lifted the Cougars into second place. East fell to 5-2 in the Big Eight and 7-3 overall.
And the Cougars had the ball in the right hands when it counted, Craig coach Kerry Storbakken said.
“Amanda is a good free-throw shooter, and we want the ball in her hands,” he said. “She just needed to settle down. I don’t know what it was, too much holidays, but she is a good player. She did a nice job.”
After switching to a zone defense to combat East’s inside game, the Cougars clawed back from a 21-16 deficit a minute into the second half.
Hamilton scored seven of her game-high 15 points in the fourth quarter, including back-to-back lay-ups to give the Cougars a 42-36 lead with 2:41 remaining.
“My teammates helped me out, setting some picks on my players, and I had a free lane to the basket,” Hamilton said. “I took the chances and they were going in.”
Dejuenae Daniels, who filled in for University of Wisconsin recruit Makailah Dyer at point guard after Dyer suffered an ankle injury last week, answered with a three-pointer. Teammate Alysha Justice followed with two free throws to cut the Craig lead to 42-41.
Hamilton was called for traveling on the ensuing possession, but she re-grouped to force a steal in the paint and made two free throws for a 44-41 lead with 48 seconds left.
Brenna Jackson picked up a loose ball in the paint for an uncontested lay-up as East closed within 44-43. But after Hamilton’s free throw, the Purgolders missed two shots in the lane to allow Craig to escape.
“That was a nice win,” Storbakken said. “Our kids, down the stretch, I’m proud of them. We hit some free throws and played some good defense. East has a nice team.”
Deang and Jackson each finished with 10 points for East.
“Every one stepped up tonight,” East coach Kay Galuska said. “Without Makaliah, for them to play a game like this and have shots at the end of the game and not turn the ball over, is amazing.
“I know they don’t feel that way. The shot didn’t go in, but they thought we could do it, and that was difference, and we haven’t felt like that at East for 15 or 20 years.”
CRAIG 45, EAST 43
Craig (45)—Hamilton, 6-1-15; Storbakken, 2-3-8; O’Donnell, 2-2-7; Marshick, 1-2-5; Hinman, 4-1-9; Kennedy, 0-1-1. Totals: 15-10-45.
East (43)—Deang, 4-1-10; Daniels, 2-1-7; Hudkins, 2-1-6; Jackson, 5-1-10; Almou, 0-3-3; Bading, 3-0-7. Totals: 16-6-43.
Janesville Craig 11 5 16 13—45
Madison East 11 7 14 11—43
Three-point goals—Craig 5 (Hamilton 2, Storbakken, O’Donnell, Marshick), East 5 (Daniels 2, Deang, Hudkins, Bading). Free throws missed—Craig 8, East 5. Total fouls—Craig 12, East 17.
Sophopmores—Craig 53, East 9. Craig record: 8-1 overall, 5-1 in Big Eight. Craig leading scorers—Maddie Phillips, 11; Regan Sitorius, 11; Katie Villa, 10.