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Verona edges Janesville Parker in OT

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Ben Worgull
Special to The Gazette
Friday, February 24, 2017

VERONA--Feeling it had to blueprint for success, Janesville Parker’s girls basketball team attacked the low post with repetitiveness, found gaps in defending state champion Verona’s combination of zones and broke the press to give its offense opportunity to score.

The Vikings were playing like a team of veterans, building a double-digit lead with a little more than six minutes to go.

But when fifth-seeded Verona’s pressure increased in an act of desperation to extend its season Friday night, the 12th-seeded Vikings lost their composure and a chance to play at least one more game. The Wildcats came back and held on for a 53-50 overtime victory in a WIAA Division 1 regional semifinal.

“We went from wanting to win to not wanting to lose,” Janesville Parker coach Jennah Hartwig said. “That’s not a good way to play.”

Using a late 15-1 run to erase a double-digit deficit in the second half, Verona (15-8) got big plays from a pair of seniors in Sisi Mitchell (10 of her 15 points in the second half) and Alex Luehring (six of her 13 in overtime) to keep alive on its quest to defend the Division 1 state championship.

“We’re pretty much a new team but have three returners,” Verona coach Angie Murphy said. “Alex hit some big shots and rose to the occasion down the stretch. You could see the experience taking over.”

Although Parker (10-13) lost both meetings in the regular season, including a 48-44 overtime decision in the same gym Jan. 13, Hartwig was confident that her game plan to break Verona’s press and variety of zones would work.

She was right. Spending ample time working on press breaks and attacking the low post with a pair of 6-foot-2 forwards in senior Kam Blaser and sophomore Julia Hartwig, Parker closed the first half on a 20-7 run. Blaser and Hartwig scored 17 of the team’s 22 first-half points.

Parker stuck to the formula, and threw some timely defense in as a bonus, for the first 11-plus minutes of the second half to build a seemingly comfortable double-digit lead.

But the Wildcats made life anything but comfortable at the end.

“They turned up their pressure and we just started turning it over,” Jennah Hartwig said. “I don’t know if fatigue set in, and then you’re not as mentally tough as we needed to be, but we got tight. All we wanted to do was dribble, dribble, dribble instead of doing what we had done all game to break the press.”

As a result Julia Hartwig, who scored 25 points and repeatedly finished through contact, hardly touched the ball during the Wildcats’ decisive second-half run.

She managed to create her own offense in overtime, cleaning up an offensive rebound to give Parker a 48-47 lead, but Luehring hit a 3-pointer on the next possession. Verona didn’t trail again, helping its cause by forcing Parker into turnovers in the next two possessions and playing lockdown defense to keep a potential game-tying 3-pointer with 3.6 seconds left well short.

“Our guards get nervous and they want to make the pass away from the basket instead of the pass to the basket,” Jennah Hartig said. “Our guards are young and it shows in games like this. Their guards aren’t and it shows it games like this.”

It also didn’t help that freshman point guard Jena Forrestal injured her head on a hard collision underneath her basket with 4:47 remaining and didn’t return.

“We had the exact same thing happen the last time we played them when she fouled out,” Jennah Hartwig said. “That just really cuts down on our bench, cuts down on our ball handling, cuts down on our shooting.”

Parker finished the season with a 10-13 record.

“I’m proud of how much we improved this season,” Hartwig said. “We’ve got such a good corps of girls back that I’m looking forward to that and some of our guards having more experience.”

VERONA 53, PARKER 50 (OT)

Parker (50)—Blaser, 4-4-12; Benway, 1-0-2; Shelton, 0-2-2; Forrestal, 2-0-6; Graesslin, 1-0-3; Hartwig, 10-5-25. Totals: 18-11-50.

Verona (53)—Penn, 0-2-2; Bainbridge, 3-1-8; Mitchell, 5-3-15; Luehring, 4-2-13; Mueller, 2-2-6; Rae, 2-0-4; Schraufmage;, 1-2-5. Totals: 17-12-53.

Parker 22 23 5—50

Verona 17 28 8—53

Three-point goals—Parker 3 (Forrestal 2, Graesslin), Verona 7 (Bainbridge, Mitchell 2, Luehring 3, Schraufnagel). Free throws missed—Parker 9, Verona 10. Total fouls—Parker 23, Verona 19. Fouled out—Blaser.

 

Feeling it had to blueprint for success, Janesville Parker’s girls basketball team attacked the low post with repetitiveness, found gaps in defending state champion Verona’s combination of zones and broke the press to give its offense opportunity to score.

The Vikings were playing like a team of veterans, building a double-digit lead with a little more than six minutes to go.

But when fifth-seeded Verona’s pressure increased in an act of desperation to extend its season Friday night, the 12th-seeded Vikings lost their composure and a chance to play at least one more game. The Wildcats came back and held on for a 53-50 overtime victory in a WIAA Division 1 regional semifinal.

“We went from wanting to win to not wanting to lose,” Janesville Parker coach Jennah Hartwig said. “That’s not a good way to play.”

Using a late 15-1 run to erase a double-digit deficit in the second half, Verona (15-8) got big plays from a pair of seniors in Sisi Mitchell (10 of her 15 points in the second half) and Alex Luehring (six of her 13 in overtime) to keep alive on its quest to defend the Division 1 state championship.

“We’re pretty much a new team but have three returners,” Verona coach Angie Murphy said. “Alex hit some big shots and rose to the occasion down the stretch. You could see the experience taking over.”

Although Parker (10-13) lost both meetings in the regular season, including a 48-44 overtime decision in the same gym Jan. 13, Hartwig was confident that her game plan to break Verona’s press and variety of zones would work.

She was right. Spending ample time working on press breaks and attacking the low post with a pair of 6-foot-2 forwards in senior Kam Blaser and sophomore Julia Hartwig, Parker closed the first half on a 20-7 run. Blaser and Hartwig scored 17 of the team’s 22 first-half points.

Parker stuck to the formula, and threw some timely defense in as a bonus, for the first 11-plus minutes of the second half to build a seemingly comfortable double-digit lead.

But the Wildcats made life anything but comfortable at the end.

“They turned up their pressure and we just started turning it over,” Jennah Hartwig said. “I don’t know if fatigue set in, and then you’re not as mentally tough as we needed to be, but we got tight. All we wanted to do was dribble, dribble, dribble instead of doing what we had done all game to break the press.”

As a result Julia Hartwig, who scored 25 points and repeatedly finished through contact, hardly touched the ball during the Wildcats’ decisive second-half run.

She managed to create her own offense in overtime, cleaning up an offensive rebound to give Parker a 48-47 lead, but Luehring hit a 3-pointer on the next possession. Verona didn’t trail again, helping its cause by forcing Parker into turnovers in the next two possessions and playing lockdown defense to keep a potential game-tying 3-pointer with 3.6 seconds left well short.

“Our guards get nervous and they want to make the pass away from the basket instead of the pass to the basket,” Jennah Hartig said. “Our guards are young and it shows in games like this. Their guards aren’t and it shows it games like this.”

It also didn’t help that freshman point guard Jena Forrestal injured her head on a hard collision underneath her basket with 4:47 remaining and didn’t return.

“We had the exact same thing happen the last time we played them when she fouled out,” Jennah Hartwig said. “That just really cuts down on our bench, cuts down on our ball handling, cuts down on our shooting.”

Parker finished the season with a 10-13 record.

“I’m proud of how much we improved this season,” Hartwig said. “We’ve got such a good corps of girls back that I’m looking forward to that and some of our guards having more experience.”

VERONA 53, PARKER 50 (OT)

Parker (50)—Blaser, 4-4-12; Benway, 1-0-2; Shelton, 0-2-2; Forrestal, 2-0-6; Graesslin, 1-0-3; Hartwig, 10-5-25. Totals: 18-11-50.

Verona (53)—Penn, 0-2-2; Bainbridge, 3-1-8; Mitchell, 5-3-15; Luehring, 4-2-13; Mueller, 2-2-6; Rae, 2-0-4; Schraufmage;, 1-2-5. Totals: 17-12-53.

Parker                                                                   22          23                    5—50

Verona                                                                 17          28                    8—53

Three-point goals—Parker 3 (Forrestal 2, Graesslin), Verona 7 (Bainbridge, Mitchell 2, Luehring 3, Schraufnagel). Free throws missed—Parker 9, Verona 10. Total fouls—Parker 23, Verona 19. Fouled out—Blaser.



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