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Janesville Craig’s Da’marcus DeValk is fouled on the layup attempt while defended by Janesville Parker’s Jacob Naber, left, and Kaden Vernon during their game at Craig High School on Tuesday, Dec. 15.

JANESVILLE

The fortunes of Janesville Craig’s boys basketball team took a big hit before the season even began.

Two-year starting point guard Marshaun Harriel suffered a knee injury during the football season, leaving his status for the basketball season in doubt.

Coach Ben McCormick said it’s a big loss but one he thinks the Cougars can overcome.

“We’ve got as much depth as we’ve ever had,” McCormick said. “I think we can go 13 or 14 deep without that big of a dropoff.

“The key for us is how well do we defend, and can we consistently knock down the 3—something I think we can do with the shooters we have.”

The loss of Harriel leaves Da’marcus DeValk as the lone returning starter. The senior averaged 9.9 points per game last season.

“He’s really improved as a shooter and has gotten to the point where he’s creative and a good finisher around the rim,” McCormick said of DeValk. “He probably doesn’t get enough credit for his on-ball defense, and we really hope he can take another step forward this season.”

Other than DeValk, McCormick said the starting lineup could change on a game-by-game basis, depending on who has the hot hand and is willing to get after it defensively.

“The competition has been intense at practice because the guys know you could quickly go from No. 2 or 3 on the depth chart to No. 14 or 15,” McCormick said. “That’s how close these guys are in ability and what they bring to the table.

“I love that about this team. The energy is so infectious at practice, and I think they’re buying into the team concept and how we’re only going to be successful if we’re selfless.”

McCormick is also high on seniors Hayden Halverson (6-2), Luke DeGraaf (6-1) and Jaevon Collins (5-11). Halverson and DeGraaf combined to average 15 points per game last season, while Collins is a likely replacement for Harriel at point guard.

Junior Keagan Clark, whom McCormick calls the team’s most-improved player, will likely man one of the forward spots when Craig opens the season Nov. 27 at Madison Edgewood.

Juniors Owen Shucha and Devin Becher, along with sophomores Jackson Bertagnoli, Carson McCormick, Evan Lawton and Dylan Tyler, are also expected to push for playing time.

“We’ve got a bunch of gym rats who can’t get enough basketball,” McCormick said. “We don’t have a lot of size, but we’ve got good shooters and guys that understand the game.

“The best thing about this team early on is that each one of them brings it every night at practice because they know playing time is up for grabs.

“I think we’re going to be a team that defends well and shoots the 3 well.”

JANESVILLE CRAIG

2021-22 BOYS BASKETBALL SCHEDULE

(All games 7:15 p.m. unless noted)

November: 27—at Madison Edgewood, 1 p.m.

December: 2—Madison West; 4—at Verona; 7—Madison Memorial; 10—Sun Prairie; 14—at Janesville Parker; 16—at Middleton; 18—at Oconomowoc, 7 p.m.; 28—at Waunakee, 5 p.m.; 29—at Ab Nicholas Tournament (Waunakee), TBA.

January: 7—Madison La Follette; 13—Madison East; 15—vs. Beloit Memorial (at Beloit College), 7 p.m.; 21—at Madison Memorial; 27—at Madison West; 29—Verona, 2:30 p.m.

February: 1—at Elkhorn, 7 p.m.; 4—at Sun Prairie; 8—Middleton; 10—Janesville Parker; 12—Greater Metro/Big Eight Challenge (at Brookfield Central), 3 p.m.; 15—at Madison La Follette; 18—At Madison East; 24—Beloit Memorial.

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