Janesville Craig’s dominance over Janesville Parker in boys basketball continued Saturday night.
The Cougars won their seventh straight in what is now the 50th year of the crosstown series with a hard-fought 68-56 Big Eight Conference win on Bob Suter Court.
Aaron Leverson had 27 points to lead Craig, which needed a 20-0 run in the first half and a 10-0 run to start the second half to hold off a spirited effort from Parker.
Parker (0-3, 0-2 Big Eight) led 12-7 with 12:43 left in the first half, but Craig (3-0, 2-0 Big Eight) responded with a 20-0 spurt to take control. Leverson’s steal and layup made it 27-12 with 6:45 left in the half.
The Vikings, behind Matthew Hartwig’s 11 first-half points, eventually cut the Cougars’ lead to 35-29 by the break.
Craig had a chance to pull away in the first half but missed 12 free throws.
“I wasn’t sure we were in our own gym that first half,” Craig coach Ben McCormick said of the missed free throws. “I don’t think we’ll ever shoot that poorly from the line again.
“And that really hurt us because it kept the game in striking distance. But give Parker credit, they played hard. Both teams did and that’s what you’d expect.”
The second half was all Leverson. The senior guard had 18 of his game-high 27 in the second half, including two 3-pointers that keyed a 10-0 Craig run in the first four minutes. The Cougars eventually stretched the lead to 17, and the Vikings would get no closer than nine the rest of the way.
Despite the loss, Parker first-year coach Matt Bredesen saw plenty of positives from his young team. The Vikings had their best outing of the season, and made the Cougars work for their 13th win against their crosstown rival in the last 15 games.
“I told the kids afterward that it didn’t end up the way we wanted scoreboard-wise, but we did take major steps forward as far as improvements go,” Bredesen said. “Offensively, we were more sound and made more shots than we had our first two games.
“Defensively, I thought we really made them work for their shots, especially (Jack) Huml. We kind of took him out of his comfort zone where he wasn’t able to get into a flow like he had earlier this season.”
Angelo Rizzo came off the bench to score 13 points for Craig, while Huml added 10.
Brody Dahlke led Parker with 15 points, with Hartwig and Robert DeLong finishing with 14 each.
Both teams will be in action again Tuesday. Craig hosts Verona, while Parker travels to Sun Prairie.
CRAIG 68, PARKER 56
Parker (56)—Dahlke 5-2-15; DeLong 4-2-14; Biba 2-0-4; Curry 1-0-2; Hartwig 5-4-14; Lippens 1-0-3; Collins 0-2-2; Thompson 1-0-2. Totals:19-10-56
Craig (68)—Huml 3-2-10; Leverson 8-7-27; Ronde 2-2-6; Lynch 2-0-4; Rizzo 6-1-13; Smith 1-0-2; Scoville 3-0-6. Totals: 25-12-68
Janesville Parker 29 27—56
Janesville Craig 35 33—68
Three-point goals—Parker 8 (DeLong 4, Dahlke 3, Lippens), Craig 6 (Leverson 4, Huml 2). Free throws missed—Parker 5, Craig 10. Total fouls—Parker 21, Craig 17. Fouled out—Lynch, Lippens