Parker girls dodge West's upset bid
But as soon as the fourth quarter began, the Vikings immediately showed why they’re the top-ranked Division 1 team in the state.
After falling behind by as many as seven points in the second half, Parker cranked up its intensity and outscored the Regents 16-5 in the fourth quarter to sneak away with a 50-43 victory.
Catie O’Leary scored seven of her game-high 26 points in the final quarter, while Alex Klawitter finished with 11 to give Parker (16-1, 13-0) a one game lead over second-place Middleton in the Big Eight race.
The Vikings can clinch a share of the conference title Tuesday with a home victory over Middleton.
While Tuesday’s showdown with the Cardinals is hard to ignore, Parker coach Tom Klawitter refused to say it distracted his team against Madison West (8-10, 6-8).
“First of all, we as a team are going to clean some stuff up,” Klawitter said.
“I think the biggest thing we need to do is give a lot of credit to West, because obviously they’re a better team than their record shows.”
The Regents kept the Parker crowd on edge, holding a 38-34 lead after three quarters.
Alex Klawitter finally started the Vikings’ comeback with a three-pointer that cut the deficit to 38-37 with 7:50 left in the fourth.
Parker’s defense then followed Klawitter’s lead by holding West scoreless for the first 3:50 of the quarter.
Meanwhile, O’Leary drilled three straight free throws to give Parker its first lead of the second half, 40-38, with 4:48 to play.
After an Ellie Pearson free throw cut the deficit to 40-39, Parker scored six consecutive points to go up 46-39 with two minutes to play.
The shell-shocked Regents never drew closer than three points the rest of the way.
“Janesville cranked up its pressure defense, and we didn’t execute well down the stretch,” West coach Les Luehring said. “We just haven’t learned how to close out games yet, and with that pressure defense, we panicked instead of staying strong with the basketball.”
West’s fourth quarter meltdown spoiled three quarters of brilliant basketball.
After the Vikings jumped out to a 19-17 lead in the first quarter, the Regents took control with an 11-5 second quarter spurt to nab a surprising 28-24 halftime lead.
West increased its lead to 34-27 early in the third before the Vikings trimmed the deficit to 38-34 at the end of the quarter.
But it was all Parker after that.
“It’s nice to only get away with only playing 16 minutes,” Klawitter said.
“But if we don’t start playing 32 minutes, then we’re going to be in trouble.”
Pearson had team-high 15 points for Madison West, while Kaylee Heller added 10.
JANESVILLE PARKER 50, MADISON WEST 43
Madison West (43)—Heller, 4-2-10; Pizzingrilli, 2-0-5; Kuhn, 1-0-2; Poffenberger, 2-0-4; Pearson, 6-2-15; Corkery, 3-0-7. Totals: 18-4-43.
Parker (50)—Klawitter, 3-2-11; O’Leary, 6-11-26; Prom, 1-0-2; Quillman, 1-0-2; Flood, 3-0-6; Newlin, 1-1-3. Totals: 15-14-50.
West 17 11 10 5—43
Parker 19 5 10 16—50
Three point goals—West 2 (Pizzingrilli, Corkery), Parker 6 (Klawitter 3, O’Leary 3). Free throws missed—West 4, Parker 4. Total fouls—West 14, Parker 14.