Smith, McCulloch score season highs against Beloit
JANESVILLE--Morgan McCulloch isn’t ready to declare herself 100 percent back just yet.
But the Janesville Parker junior looked the part on Thursday night.
McCulloch, who missed the first month of the season while coming back from a torn ACL, scored a season-high 23 points and fellow junior Paige Smith topped her season-high with 28, leading the Vikings to a 72-44 Big Eight Conference home victory over Beloit Memorial.
“It was a long road coming back,” McCulloch said. “But definitely every game it gets better and better. This was a fun game, because everyone got to play and everyone got to do well.”
Parker impoved to 8-8 overall and 7-5 in the Big Eight. Beloit fell to 4-11 and 1-11.
The first quarter belonged to Smith, the league’s third-leading scorer.
The Vikings pushed the pace in transition, and Smith took advantage with six buckets in the first eight minutes.
She made 12 of 14 field-goal attempts in the game and went 4-for-5 from the free-throw line. Smith’s previous high came at Beloit when she scored 27 points.
“We were able to exploit the high post until they went to the 1-3-1 zone,” Parker coach Tom Klawitter said. “Morgan got some opportunities to score there and Kathryn (Dubanowich) had some opportunities to score there. We’ve just got to do a better job of knocking down the 8-footers.”
The Vikings shot 58 percent from the floor in the first half, opening up a 23-point lead.
Smith had 19 of her 28 in the first half. McCulloch scored 10 in the third quarter, and the Vikings never looked back, though the cushion gave them a chance to work on areas of their game that they’ll need down the stretch.
“There are some things we wanted to accomplish tonight, and I thought we did, for the most part,” Klawitter said. “The bottom line is defense. I know we’re going to have to shoot the ball to be successful. But we’ve just got to be able to contain teams once in a while.”
Parker returns to the court Saturday night at Madison East.