Janesville Parker overcomes 15-point deficit
But when Craig guard Cody Dare’s three-pointer fell short at the buzzer, it was Parker’s boisterous student section that seized the court after the Vikings stormed back from 15-point second-half deficit to knock off the Cougars, 54-51, Thursday night.
Parker forward Erik Albeck scored six of his team-high 18 points in the fourth quarter, while Creed Knutson added 15 for the game to lead the host Vikings to their second consecutive Big Eight victory and a 3-1 conference record.
“This win is huge for us coming off a win at Verona,” said Parker coach Ryan Masterson, whose team improved to 4-1 for the season. “We obviously haven’t had an enormous amount of success over the past few years, but to put together a win streak is huge for these kids.”
While Parker is enjoying its early-season success, Craig (2-6, 0-5) still is trying to capitalize on missed opportunities.
“The free-throw line has been our Achilles heel,” said Craig coach Mike Miller, whose team finished 5-for-17 at the line. “The same happened to us here (Parker) last year where we had shots to win, but we didn’t knock down free throws.”
Craig appeared poised to overcome its poor free-throw shooting early in the second half. The Cougars scored the first seven points of the third quarter and were in position to blow the game open with a 36-21 lead midway through the period.
But the Vikings refused to allow their city rival get the best of them and used their superior size down low to unleash a 29-12 run to reclaim the lead at 50-48 lead with 1:50 left in the game.
Dare then drained a clutch three-pointer to give the Cougars a 51-50 lead with 1:20 to play.
The Cougars eventually regained possession and were in a position to run out the clock until Albeck’s steal near midcourt led to two free throws with 24 seconds left. That put the Vikings back on top, 52-51.
Craig then failed to answer on the ensuing possession and was forced to foul the rest of way. Austin Lloyd drilled two free throws, leaving the Cougars with one last chance to tie. But Dare’s last-second three-pointer missed the mark, giving Parker the victory.
“This is a game we obviously would have liked to get,” Miller said after Craig suffered its 25th straight conference loss. “We’re finished with the idea of learning experiences from losses.”
Miller may have delivered that same message to his team in the second quarter. After a lackluster first quarter, the Cougars, behind Dare’s nine points, outscored Parker 24-11 in the second en route to a 29-21 halftime lead. Dare paced the Cougars with 22 points overall.
“I thought Craig played an outstanding game,” Masterson said. “They shot the ball very well and played with lot of intensity. So hats off to them, but we just had enough to pull it out in the end.”
PARKER 54, CRAIG 51
Craig (51)—Johnson, 4-0-8; Dare, 7-4-22; Brault, 1-0-2; Pickarts, 1-0-3; Wright, 1-0-2; Eden, 1-0-2; Cooney, 2-1-7; Sarow, 2-0-5. Totals: 19-5-51.
Parker (54)—Somerville, 2-4-8; Long, 1-0-3; Knutson, 6-0-15; Lloyd, 2-4-8; Schroeder, 1-0-2; Albeck, 7-4-18. Totals: 19-12-54.
Janesville Craig 5 24 10 12—51
Janesville Parker 10 11 9 24—54
Three point goals— Craig 8 (Dare 4, Pickarts, Cooney 2, Sarow), Parker 4 (Knutson 3, Long). Free throws missed—Craig 12, Parker 2. Total fouls—Craig 13, Parker 16.
Sophomores – Craig 62, Parker 32