Beloit fights off feisty Cougars
Special to the Gazette
With its dim lighting and old rustic look, Beloit Memorial High School’s storied Barkin Arena can be an intimidating place for visiting basketball teams.
But the historic facility didn’t quite have the same luster Friday night.
Perhaps Janesville Craig’s boys basketball team had something to do with it.
Beloit (12-2, 9-1) failed to get its high-flying act going against Craig’s methodical half-court game, but still found a way to grind out a 66-52 victory that lifted the second-place Purple Knights to 9-1 in the Big Eight andf 12-2 overall.
Mike Weston paced the Knights with 14 points, while Jon Winston and Cameron Roegner each added 10 for Beloit, which played without leading scorer Leketreius Broomfield.
But the Purple Knights victory didn’t come easily against the feisty Cougars (2-13, 0-11).
“We battled real hard, and this was one of our best efforts tonight,” Craig coach Mike Miller said. “But (Beloit) is just a good basketball team.”
Craig’s valiant effort certainly impressed Purple Knights coach Jay Bryant.
“Those guys have improved a lot,” Bryant said of the Cougars. “And their kids work really hard and compete, and that’s all you can ask as a coach.”
The hard work appeared to pay off in the first half for Craig. Will Eden’s lay-up with 30 seconds left in the first quarter drew the Cougars to within 14-13.
Cody Dare gave Craig a brief 18-16 lead early in the second quarter with a baseline three-pointer. Brett Pickarts three-pointer with 3:45 left helped the Cougars maintain a 20-18 lead.
Pickarts paced Craig with 18 points, while Dare added 15.
But the Cougars failed to score the rest of the half and fell victim to the Purple Knights’ 8-0 run that was capped by a Winston dunk that gave Beloit a 26-20 halftime lead.
“Beloit is a tough team to defend because they’re very quick, and they can shoot,” Miller said. “You have to pick your poison, but overall I thought we did a good job, but we just didn’t hit enough open shots.”
The Purple Knights began pulling away early in the third behind a quick 9-2 run that built the advantage to 35-22.
Eden’s putback cut the lead to 37-28 late in the third, but that was as close as the Cougars would get. Cameron Roegner’s four straight points helped Beloit notch its biggest lead of the night at 52-36 with four minutes left.
Dare later answered with three-pointer to trim the lead to 11, but it wasn’t enough to slow down the Purple Knights.
“We just played great team defense tonight,” Bryant said. “We shared the basketball and different people scored at different times, so we have a lot of weapons.”
BELOIT 66, CRAIG 52
Craig (52)—Johnson, 1-0-3; Dare, 5-3-15; Pickarts, 6-2-18; Wright, 2-0-4; Eden, 2-1-5; Sarow, 1-0-2; Kitching, 0-1-1; J. Olson, 0-1-1; Z. Olson, 1-0-3. Totals: 18-8-52.
Beloit (66)—Crosby, 3-1-9; Shamsid-Dean, 2-2-7; Weston, 7-0-14; Roegner, 3-4-10; Winston, 4-0-10; Green, 3-0-8; Davies, 1-0-2; Cabrera, 1-0-2; Ross, 2-0-4. Totals: 25-7-66.
Janesville Craig 13 7 10 22—52
Beloit Memorial 14 12 16 24— 66
Three point goals—Craig 7 (Johnson, Dare 2, Pickarts 4), Beloit 7 (Crosby 2, Shamsid-Dean, Winston 2, Green 2 . Free throws missed—Craig 5, Beloit 6. Total fouls—Craig 13, Beloit 14