Janesville jolts previously unbeaten Royals

COLO – The excitement and anticipation of Tuesday’s top-10 showdown faded fast.

At least for Wayne Cafferty and his Colo-NESCO squad.

Class 1A No. 8 Janesville reinserted its bid in the race for an Iowa Star Conference crown, while the Royals never got on track or resembled the unit that ran off 11 wins to open the season.

Unable to answer the intensity and energy of the Wildcats from the opening tip, the third-ranked Royals struggled to a season-low scoring total in a 58-22 setback.

“They were just tougher than us,” said Colo-NESCO coach Wayne Cafferty. “They were more aggressive and we panicked. We came out like deer-in-the-headlights. (Janesville) earned it.”

Janesville (11-1, 7-1) jumped on the Royals with the game’s first nine points and led 17-4 after the first en route to its eighth straight win. Both teams came in averaging 25-point plus margin of victories though neither team expected that trend to continue Monday.

“This is a very good team we played and I’d hate to play them 10 times because I don’t think we’d come out like we did,” said Janesville coach Steve Chidester. “We needed this. … Sometimes we don’t always come out like we should. Tonight they surprised me a little bit, that we could come out play a very good team like we did.”

The Wildcats deflected interior passes, dove for loose balls and dominated the glass while keeping the Royals from finding any sort of offensive rhythm. Caitlyn Riese opened the second quarter with a basket off a steal to trim the deficit to 17-6, but Janesville quickly put things out of reach with another 15-7 run as Brittney Hanson’s buzzer beater from the top of the key gave the Wildcats a 32-13 cushion.

Cafferty’s club had 16 turnovers in the first half as the Wildcats refused to let Riese beat them from inside.

“We knew they had (Riese) in there so we had to keep backside help on her and let them shoot outside,” said Wildcat senior Victoria Leyh. “We knew they were going to come out strong in the first quarter. We’ve had a difficult time with that in other games.”

The Wildcats established the start they wanted and carried the effort over with a physical, full-court, in-your-face defense for all four quarters.

“They outfought us for loose balls, we made bad passes and loose rebounds,” said Cafferty. “The 50-50 balls – they won most of them and that was the difference tonight.”

Anna Backstrom paced Janesville with 12 points, Hanson added 10 and Leyh had nine. Sylvia Amlie kept Riese closely guarded in the post all night and tallied eight points, Emily Trautmann had seven and Kendyl Sorge six.

Riese led the Royals with six points and three blocks, while Shayla Dean and Madison Farren (7 rebounds, 6 steals) scored four apiece. Makaelyn Neuendorf grabbed six boards.

Dean was one of three Royals to take a tumble to the floor Tuesday as Cafferty said Tuesday’s game should be a good learning experience.

“With the bumping and stuff, we have to learn to be tougher and how to handle it,” said Cafferty. “It was a physical game out there and they were more physical. They won the game because they were better than us tonight.”

The Royals face CAL on the road Friday.