Janesville Craig girls basketball coach Kerry Storbakken knew getting a win in Friday night’s season-opener was critical.
The Cougars have a brutal early-season schedule. In its next four games, Craig plays Big Eight co-favorites Madison East and Sun Prairie, along with defending champion Middleton and crosstown rival Janesville Parker.
That’s why building confidence in the opener against Madison La Follette was so important.
Storbakken got exactly what he wanted in a 58-44 win over the Lancers on Bob Suter Court.
Craig used a 21-0 first-half run to take control in a game plagued with fouls and turnovers. A total of 52 fouls were called, and La Follette turned the ball over 29 times.
“We had a little bit of those first-game jitters early on, which is what you expect,” Storbakken said of his team. “But then we put together that nice run where we got a couple steals and some easy baskets, everybody seemed to relax and just play basketball.
“We’re not very big, so we’re going to have to get after teams (defensively) and that’s what we did tonight. I’m pretty happy with the way we played after the first seven or eight minutes.”
Craig trailed 14-10 with 8:15 left in the half but then erupted with its 21-0 run sparked by two three-pointers from Emily Pierson and one from Cassie Goswick.
The Cougars took the lead for good at 17-14 on a Pierson three with 7:55 left in the half and Goswick’s three with 6:53 left pushed the lead to 23-14. Pierson’s second three with 5:48 left capped off the run and made it 31-14. La Follette got no closer than 10 after that.
“We’re still a pretty young team even though we’ve got a number of kids with varsity experience,” Storbakken said. “We start four sophomores, but they’ve played together for a long time.
“If we can cut down on our fouls and eliminate the silly turnovers, we’re going to give teams trouble. I’ve got a pesky bunch that’s going to get after it.”
Goswick led Craig with 13 points, while Pierson and Rileigh Elgas had 12 points each.
Craig hosts East on Tuesday night.
CRAIG 58, LA FOLLETTE 44
La Follette (44)—Eder 2-4-8; Lee 0-1-1; Ingersol 0-3-3; Lowry 4-4-14; Walker 1-0-2; Olson 2-1-5; Riale 2-4-9; Wright 0-2-2. Totals: 11-19-44.
Craig (58)—Pierson 3-4-12; Parkhurst 3-3-9; Dunlavy 1-2-5; Goswick 4-5-13; Elgas 3-5-12; Fieras 1-5-7. Totals: 15-22-58.
Madison La Follette;25;19—44
Three-point goals—La Follette 3 (Lowry 2, Riale), Craig 6 (Pierson 2, Goswick 2, Elgas, Dunlavy). Free throws missed—La Follette 16, Craig 8. Total fouls—La Follette 28, Craig 24. Fouled out—Steele, Olson, Ingersol, Goswick, Elgas.