Middleton girls top Parker
The Vikings haven’t played like the No. 1 team in the state for the past two weeks.
The lackluster play Tuesday night likely cost the Vikings a shot at the undisputed Big Eight Conference title.
Middleton jumped out early on the Vikings en route to a pivotal 52-41 win.
With the victory, Middleton not only exacted revenge on Parker, but also moved into a first-place tie in the Big Eight at 13-1 with two games remaining. The loss was Parker’s first to a state school as it fell to 16-2.
Parker coach Tom Klawitter knows his Vikings have two weeks to right their ship before WIAA tournament play begins.
“We’re hoping we snap out of our offensive struggles,” he said. “Defensively, we’re still playing pretty well, but offensively we’re just not clicking.
“We’re passing up shots. We’re not taking the ball to the basket. We miss the open person. We’re just not jiving.”
Middleton was jiving from the start, despite being delayed a half-hour due to travel problems. The Cardinals (15-3) had a 12-2 lead after the first quarter as the Vikings managed only Catie O’Leary’s basket with 2:36 left that cut the lead to 9-2.
Parker regrouped in the second quarter and started playing like the team that has occupied the No. 1 spot of the Division 1 poll most of the year. O’Leary, who led all scorers with 15 points, had 11 in the second period as Parker put up 21 points to pull within 27-23 by halftime.
After building some momentum, Parker reverted back to its recent stagnant play on offense in the second half. The Vikings managed only three field goals in the second half, and they went without a basket in the fourth quarter. Middleton led by four after three quarters and used a 6-1 run to start the fourth to put the Vikings away.
Middleton coach Jeff Kind said his team learned plenty from the first meeting between the two schools, which Parker won 63-49.
The Cardinals trashed their full-court pressure defense that the Vikings exposed in the first game in favor of a tenacious man-to-man half-court defense. The plan worked perfectly as the Vikings were a woeful 11-for-41 from the field for the game.
Middleton’s defense—specifically Cassey Simon—held O’Leary to just two second-half points, and second-leading scorer Alex Klawitter managed only four free throws in the game.
“We wanted to control the match-ups, and we did that by going into our half-court man-to-man,” Kind said. “We had to make them prove they could score against our half-court defense and not by getting easy looks by breaking our press.
“It’s always a battle down here, and you have to be mentally and physically tough. We matched their intensity early, and that was the key.”
MIDDLETON 52, PARKER 41
Middleton (52)—Newman, 3-2-9; Kessenich, 3-5-14; Simon, 2-1-5; Beckwith, 4-1-9; Owen, 2-1-5; Gunderson, 3-3-10. Totals: 17-13-52.
Parker (41)—Klawitter, 0-4-4; O’Leary, 6-3-15; Koebler, 2-0-5; Quillman, 1-0-2; Newlin, 0-2-2; Flood, 3-3-11; Zinn, 0-2-2. Totals: 12-14-41.
Middleton 12 15 11 14—52
Janesville Parker 2 21 11 7—41
Three-point goals—Middleton 5 (Kessenich 3, Newman, Gunderson), Parker 3 (Flood 2, Koebler). Free throws missed—Middleton 7, Parker 1. Total fouls—Middleton 12, Parker 19.
Sophomores—Middleton 56, Parker 37. Parker record: 6-8 in Big Eight, 8-8 overall. Parker scoring leader scorer: Frankie Larson, 8.