Until things improve on the defensive end, Janesville Craig High’s boys basketball team is going to continue to struggle.
Friday night on Bob Suter Court, the Cougars surrendered 41 points in each half in an 82-75 Big Eight Conference loss to Madison West.
The Regents hit 12 3-pointers and got 24 points from Cliff McCray to improve to 5-6 on the season and 3-5 in the Big Eight.
Craig, which got a game-high 29 points from Jack Huml, lost its fifth straight conference game, falling to 3-5 in the Big Eight and 6-5 overall.
“I told the guys afterward that if you score 75 points in a high school basketball game, that should be a victory,” Craig coach Ben McCormick said. “But that wasn’t the case tonight. We have to take a good look in the mirror and figure out where we go from here.
“And give West credit. They came out and shot the ball extremely well.
“We gave ourselves a chance down the stretch, but they made a few more plays than we did.”
Craig trailed by four at half but eventually took a 50-48 lead on Huml’s jumper with 12:54 to play. West responded with a 7-0 run capped off by ChaMar Reed’s turnaround jumper to take a 55-50 lead with 11:06 left.
The Cougars kept it close and got within one at 71-70 on Huml’s 3-pointer with 3:42 to play.
West then went on a quick 8-2 run to put the game away. Two McCray free throws with 1:50 left pushed the lead to 79-72.
“We move pretty well offensively when we get the ball into the post and get some touches, but we didn’t have hardly any touches in the post tonight,” McCormick said.
“And we’ve got to find a way to start faster. You can’t come out and dig yourself a hole right away. I can’t fault our effort, but we have to find a way to keep improving, especially on the defensive end.”
Aaron Leverson added 15 points for Craig, which hosts Madison Memorial on Thursday.
WEST 82, CRAIG 75
West (82)—McCray 8-2-24; Neugebauer 1-0-2; Arnwald 6-4-17; Berry 2-0-6; Reed 3-1-7; Champion 3-1-7; Jones 1-2-5; Brooks 6-0-14. Totals: 30-10-82
Craig (75)—Huml 10-3-29; Bertagnoli 3-1-8; Rizzo 3-0-8; Fieiras 2-1-5; Leverson 4-6-15; Lynch 1-1-3; Ronde 1-2-4; Scoville 1-1-3. TOtals: 25-14-75
Madison West 41 41—82
Janesville Craig 37 38—75
Three-point goals—West 12 (McCray 6, Brooks 2, Berry 2, Arnwald, Jones), Craig 10 (Huml 6, Rizzo 2, Bertagnoli, Leverson). Free throws missed—West 6, Craig 8. Total fouls—West 23, Craig 19. Fouled out—Lynch