Middleton proves too much for Craig
The Cougars made a positive statement, but the visiting Cardinals stood their ground Saturday and posted a 60-54 victory to clinch the Big Eight Conference girls basketball championship.
Middleton improved to 16-4 overall and 15-1 in the Big Eight. The loss stopped Craig’s winning streak at five and dropped it to 12-7 and 10-6.
“We got beat by 25 points the first time, and our kids have improved,” Craig coach Kerry Storbakken said. “We gutted it out until the end.’’
Kristi Crandall scored 11 of 14 points in the second half to lead Craig, while teammate Alli Calkins added eight of her 10 points in the second half.
The determined Cougars kept the Cardinals off-balance through the first quarter to take an 11-8 lead. Craig kept it going in the second quarter, fighting to a 19-16 lead, but Middleton clicked off an 8-0 run en route to a 22-11 advantage for a 30-22 halftime lead. Craig trailed the rest of the way.
“The second quarter we lost them on transition a little bit,” Storbakken said. “(Liz) McMahon hurt us inside. We had answer.’’
Middleton’s leading scorer posted seven points after being held scoreless in the first quarter. The 5-foot-9 sophomore finished with a game-high 20 points.
Middleton increased its lead 35-22 in the third quarter, but the Cougars dug in and cut the advantage to 40-35 on a Kylee Kennedy putback. Crandall added a basket and two free throws down the stretch as Craig trailed 43-39 heading into the fourth quarter.
Calkins’ basket to open the fourth quarter cut Craig’s deficit to 43-41. The Cougars kept within a basket of the lead until Madeline Staples made two free throws and Mika Passini sank a three-point basket, and McMahon added a basket to put Middleton ahead 57-48 with two minutes remaining.
“They doubled us up in the second quarter,” Storbakken said. “That’s what hurt us.’’
Craig travels to Janesville Parker at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
MIDDLETON 60, CRAIG 54
Middleton (60)—Hanson, 4-2-11; Passini, 4-1-11; McMahon, 7-6-20; Dean, 1-0-3; Gunderson, 2-0-4; M. Staples, 2-7-11. Totals: 19-18-60.
Craig (54)—Perleberg, 2-0-4; Holzhuter, 1-2-4; Negus, 1-2-5; Crandall, 4-5-14; Kennedy, 3-0-6; Kelly, 3-3-9; Calkins, 4-1-10; Villa, 1-0-2. Totals: 19-13-54.
Middleton 8 22 13 17—60
Janesville Craig 11 11 17 15—54
Three-point goals—Middleton 4 (Hanson, Passini 2, Dean), Craig 3 (Negus, Crandall, Calkins). Free throws missed—Middleton 8, Craig 6. Total fouls—Middleton 17, Craig 18.