The season came to a painful end Tuesday night for Janesville Craig’s boys basketball team.
Despite an 11-point first-half lead, the Cougars fell victim once again to the two things that plagued them all season long: a long scoring drought and too many offensive rebounds by the opponent.
Monona Grove scored 21 of the first 25 points in the second half and coasted to a 66-54 win in a WIAA Division 1 regional quarterfinal game on Bob Suter Court.
The fifth-seeded Silver Eagles (4-7) play top-seeded Milton in a regional semifinal game Friday night. The site of the game has not yet been determined.
Craig finished the season 9-15.
In building a 17-6 lead, Craig looked good early. The Cougars got four 3-pointers from Luke DeGraaf in the first half and led 20-13 with 5:15 left before the Silver Eagles finished the half on a 12-5 run.
The second half was all Monona Grove.
Connor Bracken, who had just two points in the first half, had 13 the second, including four baskets on offensive rebounds.
“We knew coming in that they really hurt us the first time around on the offensive boards, and we really struggled again there tonight,” Craig coach Ben McCormick said. “And give them credit, they’re big and strong and really battled.
“We actually got some good looks the second half, but we just couldn’t get anything to fall. Those droughts and second-half opportunities have really hurt us all year.”
Monona Grove, which lost to Craig 78-72 last week, scored the first seven points of the second half and went up 38-27 with 11:46 to play on Bracken’s bucket underneath. The lead continued to swell thanks to 17 second-half free throws, including a perfect 10-for-10 outing from Owen Croak.
“The first time we played them, they got up 37-12 with us in a man-to-man, and once we went to a couple of different zones, we got it down to six,” Monona Grove coach Dan Zweifel said. “That was our blueprint for tonight was to stay in our zone.
“We really keyed on No. 22 (Angelo Rizzo), and I thought did a good job on him.”
Rizzo finished with a game-high 17 points but did not score the first half and got most of his points with his team well behind.
DeGraaf finished with 12 points.
MONONA GROVE 66, CRAIG 54
Monona Grove (66)—Behnke 0-1-1; Nelson 5-4-15; Hibner 4-0-11; Tipton 2-1-5; Bracken 7-1-15; Thomas 2-1-5; Croak 2-10-14. Totals: 22-18-66.
Craig (54)—DeValk 2-0-6; Harriel 1-0-2; Bertagnoli 2-0-4; Brown 1-3-5; Hodgkinson 0-1-1; DeGraaf 4-0-12; Halverson 2-0-5; Rizzo 5-4-17; Currie 1-0-2. Totals: 18-8-54.
Monona Grove 25 41—66
Janesville Craig 25 29—54
3-point goals—Monona Grove 4 (Hibner 3, Nelson), Craig 10 (DeGraaf 4, Rizzo 3, DeValk 2, Halverson). Free throws missed—Monona Grove 13, Craig 2. Total fouls—Monona Grove 15, Craig 22. Fouled out—Bracklen, DeGraaf, DeValk.