Middleton outshoots Parker in Big Eight title showdown
MIDDLETON In his 20 seasons as the girls basketball coach at Janesville Parker High School, Tom Klawitter thought he had seen it all.
But then came Thursday night’s first-half performance by the Middleton Cardinals.
The Cardinals erupted for 44 points in the first 16 minutes en route to a Big Eight Conference title-clinching, 59-52 win over the Vikings.
Middleton (17-3, 15-3) shares the championship with Verona (16-4, 15-3). The defending co-champion Vikings (15-5, 14-4) finish in sole possession of third place.
The two teams put on an offensive clinic in the first quarter. The game was tied 21-21 after the first eight minutes, but then the Cardinals took over. Middleton scored 23 points in the second quarter to build a 15-point halftime lead.
The Vikings cut the deficit to seven in the second half but could not climb out of the first-half hole.
“Everything they were throwing up went in the basket,” Klawitter said of the Cardinals, who hit 17 of 27 field-goal attempts in the first half. “The bottom line in the first half is that defensively, that is the thing that we feel like we do a pretty good job with, and it just absolutely broke down.
“I told the girls, we beat a good team (Middleton) last week, and we lost to a good team this week. That’s gonna happen sometimes.”
After its big halftime lead, Middleton looked like a different team in the second half. The Cardinals were content with taking time off the clock while making the Vikings chase them all over the court.
Parker cut the lead to seven on three occasions, including Keynisha Zinn’s turnaround basket with 7:15 left that made it 54-47. The Vikings had back-to-back possessions to cut into the lead after that, but they couldn’t get anything to fall until Savannah Shepler hit a three-point basket with 23 seconds left.
“Even in the locker room at halftime, I told the girls that Parker is too good to not make a run at us in the second half,” Middleton coach Jeff Kind said. “And they did, but we were able to keep our composure and run some clock.
“It was an atypical Parker/Middleton game the first half. I looked up and there were more than 70 points up on the board. I don’t think anyone expected that.”
Parker’s Catie O’Leary, the two-time Big Eight Player of the Year, struggled from the field after a strong start. The Loyola University of Chicago recruit had 10 points in the first quarter, but only six the rest of the way.
O’Leary misfired on 18 of 25 shots as Middleton’s Kayla Beckwith clamped down on her defensively.
With O’Leary having an off night, Danielle Flood picked up the slack. The sophomore finished with a game-high 22 points, including nine in the third quarter when the Vikings tried to mount a comeback.
Erin Flynn, Emily Larson and Kerry Gardner each scored 11 points to lead Middleton.
MIDDLETON 59, PARKER 52
Parker (52)—O’Leary, 7-0-16; Flood, 9-2-22; Shepler, 3-0-8; Miland, 0-1-1; Zinn, 2-1-5. Totals: 21-4-52.
Middleton (59)—Newman, 1-2-5; Beckwith, 3-0-6; Acker, 2-0-4; Gardner, 4-2-11; Larson, 3-5-11; Rongstad, 2-0-5; Flynn, 5-1-11; Eklund, 2-2-6. Totals: 22-12-59.
Janesville Parker 21 8 16 7—52
Middleton 21 23 10 5—59
Three-point goals—Parker 6 (Flood 2, O’Leary 2, Shepler 2), Middleton 3 (Rongstad, Newman, Gardner). Free throws missed—Parker 4, Middleton 7. Total fouls—Parker 17, Middleton 11.
Sophomores—Middleton 67, Parker 42.