Balance was the key for the Janesville Craig boys basketball team Thursday.
De’Marcus DeValk scored 15 points and Denver Hughes added 13 as the Cougars rallied for a 66-61 win over Madison West in the Big Eight Conference opener for both teams.
Craig (1-1, 1-0) had five players with seven or more points. The Cougars trailed 44-36 with 12:15 to play but went on a 9-0 run to take a 45-44 lead with 8:30 left. The lead seesawed before Craig took the lead for good at 52-49 on a Keegan Clark 3-pointer with 6:30 left.
“There are going to be nights where there is Saran Wrap on the lid, but can you get it done on the defensive end,” Craig coach Ben McCormick said. “And our guys did that tonight. We gave up 28 points the first half and 27 the second, so defensively, we played well.
“It’s hard to get a win in the Big Eight, and we just did. We got contributions from a number of guys offensively, and that’s what it takes.”
Leading 52-49, Craig got a basket from Dylan Tyler and a 3-point play from DeValk to stretch the lead to 57-49 with 5:27 to play. West (0-1, 0-1) got no closer than four the rest of the way.
Ta Shun Pender had a game-high 25 points for West, but he picked up three fouls in the first half and his fourth midway through the second.
“We didn’t know a lot about West because they didn’t play last year,” McCormick said. “But Pender was really solid, but fortunately for us, they didn’t shoot their free throws very well.”
West missed 16 of 27 attempts at the line.
Craig plays at Verona (3-0, 1-0) on Saturday night.
CRAIG 66, WEST 61
West (61)—Pender 9-5-25; Brown 7-1-17; Williams 3-2-9; Gordon 0-3-3; Warfield 2-0-4; Dom 1-0-3. Totals 22-11-61.
Craig (66)—Clark 2-2-7; DeValk 5-5-15; Bertagnoli 3-0-8; Lawton 0-1-1; DeGraaf 2-0-5; Halverson 12-4; Tyler 4-0-9; Hughes 6-1-13; Collins 1-2-4. Totals 24-12-66.
Halftime—West 28, Craig 27. Three-point goals—West 5 (Brown 2, Dom, Pender, Williams), Craig 5 (Bertagnoli 2, DeGraaf, Clark, Tyler). Free throws missed—West 16, Craig 9. Total fouls—West 22, Craig 22. Fouled out—Harding.