Craig again falls to West on late basket in Big Eight opener
JANESVILLE In the famous words of baseball great Yogi Berra, "it was deja vu all over again" for Janesville Craig's boys basketball team.
After losing to Madison West on a last-second shot a year ago at home, the Cougars suffered the same fate Thursday night.
Kwame Latimer hit an off-balance jumper with 2.1 seconds left to play to lift the Regents to a 48-46 win in the Big Eight Conference opener for both teams.
Craig (0-4, 0-1) erased a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit to tie the game at 46-46 on Zach Olson's runner in the lane with 22 seconds left, but Latimer's heroics spoiled the gritty comeback.
"We do a better job of taking care of the ball in the first half, and do a better job of shooting free throws, and we're going to start winning some of these games," Craig coach Mike Miller said. "It's not because of a lack of confidence or effort from our kids. We just have to start putting quality minutes together.
"It's going to come. We just have to be patient and continue to work hard."
West (2-1, 1-0) seemed poised to put the game away early in the fourth. KiShawn Brown scored off a steal, and Malcolm Wilson converted on the Regents' next possession to push the lead to 43-29 with 7:35 left to play.
Craig went on a 15-2 run to get right back in the game. Cameron Wright started the run with a pair of free throws, and sophomore Jerry Ngobi capped off the Cougar flurry with a steal and layup that sliced the lead to 45-44 with 51 seconds left.
The Regents took a two-point lead on a Latimer free throw with 31 seconds left, but Olson quickly answered with a nifty baseline move to tie the game at 46.
West coach Keith Stewart took a timeout and set up an isolation play for Latimer. The 5-foot-11 senior dribbled up top before beginning his drive to the basket. He pulled up at the free-throw line and calmly swished a fadeaway jumper to give West the lead. Craig had two chances to inbound the ball, but West stole both passes to seal the victory.
"At the end of the first half, their guy hits a shot (three-pointer) from six feet behind the line. And at the end of the game, they hit another tough shot," Miller said. "There's nothing you can do about it, so we're just going to try and build off the good things we did tonight."
Brett Pickarts had 11 points to lead Craig, but was the only Cougar in double figures. Noble Jackson-Bey had 11 to lead the Regents.
Craig hosts Verona in a Big Eight game at 2:45 p.m. Saturday.
WEST 48, CRAIG 46
West (48)—Crayton, 1-1-3; Clements, 0-0-0; Kell, 5-0-10; Jackson-Bey, 5-1-11; Latimer, 3-1-8; Wilson, 3-0-6; Harwell, 1-0-3; Brown, 2-0-4; McFadden, 1-0-3. Totals: 21-3-48.
Craig (46)—Olson, 4-0-8; Pickarts, 3-1-10; Wright, 3-3-9; Sarow, 2-2-6; Ngobi, 3-3-9; Foster, 1-0-2; Eden, 1-0-2. Totals: 17-9-46.
Madison West 10 19 10 9—48
Janesville Craig 8 13 8 17—46
Three-point goals—West 3 (Latimer, McFadden, Harwell), Craig 3 (Pickarts 3). Free throws missed—West 10, Craig 7. Total fouls—West 17, Craig 15.
Sophomores—West 57, Craig 45. Craig leading scorer—Alec McCann, 18.