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Game Report: Sun Prairie East 72, Janesville Craig 54

01/17/2024, 1:00pm CST
By Mark Miller

Sun Prairie East turned the tables on visiting Janesville Craig Tuesday night.

After sustaining 70-65 to Craig in late November, Sun Prairie East came out on fire in the rematch, scorching the nets for 13 three-point baskets on the way to a resounding 72-54 Big Eight Conference triumph. 

Seven different Cardinals connected from beyond the arc to help coach Steve Masleter's squad improve to 8-5 overall and 7-2 in league play. The victory was much needed after the Cardinals had dropped four of their past five outings. 

"It's a good feeling to get such a big win," Maselter said. "We seem to have our confidence back. We are always looking for ball movement and the big-advantage threes. Our spacing on the floor was much better tonight."

Craig, coming off a 19-point home loss to Verona, slipped to 8-7 in all games and 5-5 in league play. The Cougars trailed 41-27 at intermission, but couldn't mount a serious rally in the second 18 minutes as poor shooting and the Cardinals' strong defense kept Craig at bay.

Player of the Game

Gavin Van Wie

Gavin Van Wie, 6-5, Sr., F, Sun Prairie East
Van Wie was a problem for Craig from the opening tip as he scored, distributed, rebounded and created mismatches throughout the contest. With head coaches from both Ripon College and UW-Stout watching, Van Wie was a dominant force, connecting on four three-point shots and scoring 26 points. His unselfishness with the ball also led to some scoring chances for his teammates. Van Wie is averaging 18.3 points for the Cardinals. "Gavin can flat-out get buckets," Maselter said. "When the ball moves quickly like it did tonight, it finds him. And when he gets going, he can really score. We are trying to use him inside a bit more. He's a shooter, but he can also score in the lane for us."

Play of the Game

Senior guard Jayvion Lythjohan loves the baseline three, and the 6-foot-1 backcourt ace got a huge one early in the second half. With Craig making inroads into its 14-point halftime deficit and trying to wrestle momentum away from Sun Prairie East, Lythjohan splashed a bad-breaking triple from the left baseline after a pair of offensive rebounds from teammate Max Raimer. After Raimer corralled his second offensive rebound of the possession, he spotted Lythjohan open and his teammate connected to slow Craig's charge and keep the Cardinals in control of the contest.

Unsung Hero

Max Raimer

Max Raimer, 6-4, Jr., G/F, Sun Prairie East
Raimer encountered some early foul trouble and was somewhat limited in minutes played during the first half. But he was a monster in the second 18 minutes as he continually made hustle plays for Sun Prairie East. His energy and activity on glass was particularly impressive as he extended the Cardinals' possessions on several occasions with his offensive rebounding prowess. In addition, Raimer was able to locate teammates with his strong passing skills and court awareness. He finished with just six points, well below his season average of 16.4 ppg, but it was his winning plays in other parts of the game that stood out against Craig. "Max plays with great passion and is wicked smart out there," Maselter said. "He simply does whatever the team needs. He can shoot it and get to the rim. He's been solid all year for us and has a sense of knowing where to be to help others on the court."  

From the Winning Coach

"We've hammered details with the guys on defense and on our intensity. We need to set the tone for the game on defense. I think we did a much better job of that tonight." -- Sun Prairie East coach Steve Maselter

Tidbits ...

Craig got a solid performance from emerging junior forward Judson Henkel. The 6-foot-8 post player is in his first year with the Craig program and has made the adjustment to the rigors of Big Eight basketball well. He finished with 17 points against the Cardinals was a very effective scoring near the basket ... Craig is normally a very good three-point shooting team, but the Cougars managed just five triples Tuesday, including three from senior guard Carson McCormick, the son of Craig coach Ben McCormick ... Craig also had a hard time getting to the free-throw line as they attempted just five charity tosses and made all of them. 

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