Big Eight Weekend Preview
By: Tyler Zavadsky Twitter: @TylerZonESPN
Madison Memorial Spartans (6-1) vs. Janesville Craig Cougars (3-4)
At Janesville Craig High School
Madison Memorial has, without question, been the most consistent team in the Big Eight this season. The Spartans have rattled off four consecutive conference wins and are coming off of an impressive rivalry victory over Sun Prairie last Saturday. Memorial trailed at the half, but used a 45 point second half to earn the teams sixth conference victory on the season.
The consistency of this team can simply be attributed to the consistency of it’s players. The talented and experienced frontcourt duo composed of seniors Darral Willis and Tyler Lindquist have been the story of this teams continued success. Both Willis and Lindquist average over 15 points per game and the 6 foot 7 inch Willis and 6 foot 5 inch Lindquist dominate the boards game in and game out. The consistency in the guard play by Reggie Reomer and Shareef Smith also put this team head and shoulders above the rest of the Big Eight Conference. All in all, Madison Memorial is the most well rounded and most talented team in the conference, a prospect that Janesville Craig will need to contend with Thursday night.
The Cougars on the other hand have been consistently inconsistent thus far. Craig stared the season 4-0, then lost two straight Big Eight games, then had a huge boost in morale after defeating Sun Prairie on Dec. 14, but now find themselves wondering when this roller coaster season will begin to taper off after three consecutive losses.
A “surprise” victory by the Cougars in this game would actually be quite fitting. Just when you think Janesville Craig is down, the team comes surging right back, only to fall back down to earth once again.
This contest on paper at least heavily favors Madison Memorial however so an upset is probably unlikely. Craig really doesn’t have anyone down low to matchup up with Willis or Lindquist and Craig’s best player, Jerry Ngobi, can only do so much offensively to keep his team in games. Both Ngobi and fellow senior guard Mike Murphy will need to have monster games for Craig to pull out the victory in this one, but look for the more talented and well rounded Spartans to come away with a W in this contest.
Beloit Memorial Purple Knights (5-2) vs. Madison La Follette Lancers (4-3)
At Madison La Follette High School
In perhaps the most intriguing matchup of the weekend in the Big Eight, the second place Beloit Memorial Purple Knights will travel to Madison to take on the third place La Follette Lancers.
Beloit Memorial has been the darling of the Big Eight season thus far. At 5-2, the Knights hold sole possession of second in the conference and are only one game behind the first place Spartans, a position many probably did not think Beloit would find themselves in.
Despite the promising start however, the true identity of this team is still in question. While a 5-2 start in the Big Eight is quite impressive, Memorial has yet to beat a conference opponent with a .500 record or better and the two losses this season have come against two of the more talented teams in the conference in Madison Memorial and Sun Prairie. Andre Neal (15.5 ppg) and Drayln Fair (11.9 ppg) will need to assert themselves more aggressively as two of the top players in the conference if they want to take this squad to new heights. A victory over a very talented and skillful La Follette squad may just begin that process.
While the Lancers may sit in third place in the Big Eight, they too have not defeated a conference opponent with a .500 record or better. Senior guard and leader Darold Thomas has really put together an impressive season while scoring at least 12 points in eight of the Lancers first nine games and has done a great job of distributing the ball as well. Despite his success, the Lancers have struggled to stay consistent, even in a down year for the Big Eight as a whole.
A victory for either team in this game will be a boost in confidence moving forward into the heart of the conference schedule and may just be the turning point this season.
Other games on Thursday:
Madison East Purgolders (2-5) vs. Madison West Regents (4-2)
Middleton Cardinals (3-4) vs. Sun Prairie Cardinals (3-4)
Janesville Parker Vikings (1-5) vs. Verona Wildcats (3-4)
Saturday night matchups:
Sun Prairie Cardinals vs. Iowa City West in the Tri-State Border Battle
Madison West vs. Beloit Memorial
Verona Wildcats vs. Madison East Purgolders
Janesville Craig Cougars vs. Middleton Cardinals
*Madison La Follette Lancers vs. Madison Memorial Spartans* Game of the night on Saturday
By: Tyler Zavadsky Prep Reporter Twitter: @TylerZonESPN
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