Parker girls basketball team will rely on juniors
Janesville Parker has big shoes to fill.
The Vikings lost three major contributors to graduation from last year’s girls basketball team that advanced into WIAA Division 1 sectional competition, and they will be without top returning scorer Morgan McCulloch for at least the first month of the season.
As a result, coach Tom Klawitter will rely on a core of three other returning juniors to lead the charge as the team sorts out its identity and its rotations to start the season. The process begins today with a matchup against Oshkosh West at Brookfield Central.
“We’re going to have to get experience on the run here,” Klawitter said. “It’s going to take a little bit to find out what we’re going to do. But I think they’re excited about it, because players know they can be in the mix if they go out and play hard every night.”
The Vikings will be built around a solid junior class. Forward Paige Smith averaged more than seven points per game last season, and guards Kathryn Dubanowich and Jessica Thompson combined to average nearly 11.
Smith, at 5-foot-10, is Parker’s tallest player, so the emphasis will be on high-energy play and toughness on the court.
“Dubanowich and Smith and Thompson are going to be pretty steady, I think, and we need to keep them on the floor as much as we can,” Klawitter said. “All three are scorers, so hopefully that will create some problems.”
Paiton Foster is Parker’s lone senior on the roster, and she and her sister, sophomore Kaitlyn, will likely round out the starting five to start the season today.
Beyond that, the Vikings will spend the early part of the year sorting out roles.
“I think we’re in a real process right now of finding out who needs to be doing what,” Klawitter said of the young group which still received votes in the preseason Division 1 state rankings. “Hopefully we can keep things going. This is going to be a real learning year.”
McCulloch, an honorable mention all-conference player who averaged eight points per game a year ago, is working her way back from a torn ACL. Klawitter said the junior may return to the floor as early as late December, but it will be a week-by-week process with the final decision made by McCulloch, her doctor and her family.
The Vikings will look for others to step up in her stead, including junior Grace Randles—a defensive stalwart—and sophomores Brooke Nunn, Bree Porter, Carly Fleming, Kendyl Richards and Kirsten O’Leary.
“We can score, so it’s just a matter of how we’re going to defend other teams, and rebounding,” Klawitter said. “And I think we’re going to have to mix defenses a bit, for sure, and try to keep other teams off-balance.”
“I know they all want to play, and it’s just a matter of finding the combination.”