Craig girls get helping hand late
JANESVILLE Craig High had its mettle tested and ran the gauntlet Thursday to spear a thrilling 47-44 girls basketball nonconference victory over Oregon to advance to tonight's Optimist Classic championship against Madison Edgewood.
Alli Calkins sank three free throws with .4 seconds remaining to snap Craig's two-game losing streak and help the Cougars forget an abysmal 54-42 Big Eight loss to Madison La Follette last week.
"This was a gut check," Craig coach Kerry Storbakken said of the thrilling come-from-behind victory. "I liked what I saw."
Craig finished off Oregon with an 8-0 run to improve to 5-3 overall. Oregon is 2-5.
"The La Follette game, we did not play well," Storbakken said. "I thought we played fairly well at times against (Oregon) and I was happy the way we responded down by five at home."
Sophomore Sydney Cramer scored 10 points in her first start of the season to lead Craig. Katie Villa scored six of her nine points in the third quarter, while Calkins and senior point guard Kristi Crandall added eight points each.
Craig took a 36-35 lead into the fourth quarter, but Oregon clipped off 6-0 run to start the fourth quarter for a 41-36 lead. Alison Hughes hit a three-pointer to pull Craig back to 41-39, but Oregon's D-I prospect 6-foot-1 junior Maddy Gits scored on a three-point play to give Oregon a 44-39 lead with 3:05 remaining.
Gits did not score again in the quarter and finished with a game-high 18 points.
It was all Craig the rest of the way.
Crandall, who sat the bench for five minutes of the second quarter in foul trouble and received her fourth early in the fourth quarter, sparked the Cougars.
"We were down by five, and Kristi came over, and I said, ‘You need to take this game over."'
Crandall, held to five points, responded with her second three-point bucket with 2:37 remaining to cut Oregon's lead to 44-42. Hughes tied it at 1:40.
"It not only pumped me up, but the whole team," Crandall said of her clutch three. "It made us believe we could win the game."
Each team had chances to take the lead, but after Gits missed a jumper with 3.2 seconds remaining, Craig rebounded the ball and Oregon's Riley Rosemeyer fouled Calkins as she attempted a desperation shot from behind the arc.
"Ali Calkins, knowing the clock and the situation, comes down and makes all three (free throws)," Storbakken said. "We had one of those good gutty wins."
Edgewood defeated Merrill, 53-50 to advance to the championship game at 7:45 tonight.
CRAIG 47, OREGON 44
Oregon (44)—Urban, 1-0-2; Jahn, 1-0-2; Brugger, 1-0-2; Bulikova, 2-2-6; Ricker, 4-4-12; Rosemayer, 1-0-2; Gits, 7-3-18. Totals: 17-9-47.
Craig (47)—Philipps, 0-2-2; Cramer, 3-3-10; Crandall, 3-0-8; Hughes, 3-1-8; Slatter, 1-0-2; Calkins, 2-3-8; Villa, 3-3-9. Totals: 15-12-47.
Oregon 12 7 16 9—44
Craig 13 10 13 11—47
Three-point goals—Oregon 1 (Gits). Craig 4 (Cramer, Crandall 2, Calkins). Free throws missed—Oregon 4, Craig 3. Total fouls—Oregon 14, Craig 13.