Parker girls rip Middleton for conference lead
While the star played her part, the supporting cast stole the show Saturday night for the Janesville Parker girls basketball team.
Alex Klawitter scored 18 points, and all-everything Catie O’Leary added 15, as the fourth-ranked Vikings rolled past second-ranked Middleton, 63-49, in a battle for Big Eight Conference supremacy.
Both teams were unbeaten, but in the end it was the Vikings who lived up to the pre-game hype.
“We came up here with vengeance on our minds after losing pretty badly here last year,” O’Leary said. “As long as we could match their intensity, we felt like we could make it our floor.
“Alex and Katie (Prom) hit some big shots, and Savanah Shepler’s three at the end of the third quarter was huge.”
The Vikings (6-0, 5-0) trailed only twice and led by as many as 16 in the fourth quarter.
Middleton (7-1, 5-1) briefly led 29-28 early in the third quarter, but Parker responded with a 12-4 run to take a 40-33 lead with 4:35 left in the third.
O’Leary, the Big Eight’s Player of the Year last season, had seven in the third, but the freshman Shepler had the biggest impact. The 5-foot-7 guard hit a three from deep in the right corner at the buzzer to give the Vikings a 47-38 lead. The Cardinals got no closer than six the rest of the way.
Although O’Leary got on track in the second half, Parker coach Tom Klawitter knew that the Vikings’ supporting cast proved to be the difference.
“I thought a lot of girls stepped up for us tonight,” Klawitter said. “We came up here and played hard, and that’s what I was more concerned about.
“Catie made some big plays when we needed it, especially on those two reverse layups, but we had some other girls hit some big shots as well. That’s a good sign.”
Middleton had manhandled virtually every opponent in starting 7-0. The Cardinals never got comfortable, thanks to Parker assistant coach Bob Luchsinger’s defensive scheme. Parker forced 19 turnovers, including 11 in the first half. Middleton was a pathetic 3-for-19 shooting in the fourth quarter and only 7-for-14 from the foul line.
Middleton coach Jeff Kind said his team’s performance was a reflection of Parker’s defensive tenacity.
“We got the game in the pace that we wanted, but we didn’t respond very well to Parker’s pressure defense,” Kind said. “I didn’t think we were aggressive enough going to the basket, and we needed to be tougher around the basket.”
Parker controlled most of the first half before Middleton used a late surge to cut the lead to 28-26 at half.
With O’Leary limited to two first-half points, Klawitter and Prom picked up the scoring slack. Klawitter had 12 points in the first half, including eight in the first quarter as the Vikings opened up a seven-point lead on two occasions.
Prom provided the spark in the second quarter. The 5-foot-7 senior hit back-to-back three-pointers after the Cardinals had sliced the lead to one. Prom’s second three gave Parker a 28-24 lead with 1:21 to play in the half.
With the Surf and Slam Classic in San Diego next up, Alex Klawitter said beating Middleton was the best Christmas gift she could ask for. The senior guard did not play in last year’s first Middleton game, but more than made up for it with her performance Saturday.
“We all feel like we can take the shot whenever we want, and that’s what we did tonight,” Alex said. “Middleton’s a great team, but we were really excited to come up here and play because we felt like a lot of people didn’t think we could win.
“We won, and now we get a chance to go play in San Diego.”
PARKER 63, MIDDLETON 49
Parker (63)—Koebler, 1-0-3; Klawitter, 5-6-18; O’Leary, 6-3-15; Quillman, 3-3-9; Prom, 4-1-11; Shepler, 1-2-5; Martelle, 0-1-1; McDonald, 0-1-1. Totals: 20-17-63.
Middleton (49)—Kessenich, 2-0-5; Simon, 2-2-6; Owen, 3-0-6; Gunderson, 5-1-13; Larson, 2-2-6; Newman, 2-0-6; Beckwith, 1-0-2; Spencer, 1-0-2; Acker, 0-1-1; Klein, 0-2-2. Totals: 18-8-49.
Janesville Parker 15 13 19 16—63
Middleton 9 17 12 11—49
Three-point goals—Parker 6 (Klawitter 2, Prom 2, Koebler, Shepler), Middleton 5 (Gunderson 2, Newman 2, Kessenich). Free throws missed—Parker 7, Middleton 7. Total fouls—Parker 18, Middleton 19. Fouled out—Larson.
Sophomores—Middleton 55, Parker 36. Parker is 2-3 overall and 2-3 in the Big Eight. Parker leading scorer: Molly Rozeboom, 9.