A simple offensive rebound helped Jahiem Ingram and Madison La Follette flip the switch Thursday night.
Midway through the first half of a Big Eight Conference-opening boys basketball game, the Lancers trailed by double digits.
Ingram grabbed an offensive rebound and kicked the ball out to Ben Probst, who buried one of his four 3-pointers on the night. The play sparked an 11-0 run that took less than three minutes, and La Follette cruised from there in an 87-67 victory on Bob Suter Court.
“I would give credit to Jahiem. He came off the bench, just got some extra hustle plays, some gritty rebounds,” La Follette coach Curtrel Robinson said. “In that time span, he might have had maybe five or six rebounds. I think that gave us the energy we needed, and from there it was just defense.”
It was an impressive turnaround after Craig dominated the opening nine minutes.
The Cougars pushed the pace and shared the ball well, opening up a 22-10 lead by the midway point of the half. They were up 25-14 when La Follette went on its 11-0 run, and by halftime the Lancers led by five.
“I thought the turning point was when they got a couple offensive rebounds,” Craig coach Ben McCormick said. “We could have extended our lead there, and instead they cut into it. And it kind of just snowballed on us from there.”
Craig got within three points multiple times early in the second half, but it turned the ball over 18 times in the final 18 minutes to essentially nullify any thoughts of a comeback bid.
The Lancers’ offense seemed to feed off the increased defensive effort. They went 12 of 27 from beyond the arc and had five players score in double figures, led by junior Donneil Gray’s 20 points and 14 from Probst.
“I do see we have some weapons here, but it’s all predicated off our defense,” Robinson said. “I just think we wear teams down.”
Craig got a game-high 21 points from senior Blake McCann and 16 from senior Jacob Ngobi. But the Cougars lost senior post Luke Malmanger to a leg injury in the opening minute of the second half and had a couple other forwards in foul trouble.
“Early in the first half, we really got out and ran and made it tough on them, but then the pace, for us, offensively, really slowed. And some of that was their pressure,” McCormick said. “We know we can play better than we did.”
Craig is back in action Saturday at Madison East. Tip time for that game has been changed to 4 p.m.
LA FOLLETTE 87, CRAIG 67
La Follette (87)—Gray 5-8-20, West 3-2-10, Smith 1-0-2, Probst 4-2-14, Seward 1-1-3, Cameron 2-0-4, Ingram 1-3-6, Nix 1-0-3, Stewart 4-4-13, Reeves 4-3-12. Totals: 26-23-87
Craig (67)—McCann 8-3-21, Ngobi 6-2-16, Glissendorf 1-0-2, Malmanger 3-0-7, Leverson 1-2-4, Lynch 1-0-2, Ronde 1-0-2, Huml 2-0-5, Christensen 2-0-4, Fieiras 0-1-1, Rizzo 1-0-3. Totals: 26-8-67
Madison La Follette 38 49—87
Janesville Craig 33 34—67
Three-point goals—La Follette 12 (Probst 4, West 2, Gray 2, Nix, Stewart, Reeves, Ingram), Craig 7 (McCann 2, Ngobi 2, Malmanger, Huml, Rizzo). Free throws missed—La Follette 12, Craig 6. Total fouls—La Follette 17, Craig 27.