Janesville68.5°

Harnack’s last shot a big one

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Christopher Heimerman
February 2, 2010
— It would be tough to fault the Jefferson Eagles for overlooking Melissa Harnack when she delivered Orfordville Parkview to a thrilling 38-36 victory in a Rock Valley girls basketball showdown here Monday night.

Harnack, the shortest Viking on the floor at 5-foot-3, stepped into and swished a three-pointer from the top of the key with three seconds left. After the ball touched nothing but twine, the last ticks fell off the clock, and Harnack was swarmed by her teammates at midcourt.


“I really can’t put it into words,” said Jenna Larsen, who not only led Parkview High with 20 points, but was the first to maul Harnack.


“I can’t believe it went in,” Harnack said. “I knew how much time was left, just shot it and prayed it went in. This is probably the biggest shot I’ve hit, because it was the only shot I’ve had all night.”


Parkview (13-1, 9-1) had to rally to win the crossover battle of first-place teams. In doing so, the Vikings kept their one-game lead over Brodhead in the South, while Jefferson


(9-4, 7-3) fell a half-game behind idle McFarland (10-4, 7-2) in the North.


The Vikings had a 14-point lead with 5:32 left in the third quarter, but Alexa Wegner gave Jefferson its first lead since 4-1 when she converted a tough shot along the left baseline with 1:30 left in the game. It completed an 18-3 run and found the Eagles up 34-33.


But even when Joanne Reuhl hit a 9-foot putback in traffic with 22 seconds left to give Jefferson a 36-34 lead, Harnack knew her team wouldn’t lose its poise.


“We’ve had games like that before,” Harnack said. “We just knew we had to stick with it and play our game.”


Parkview coach Tina Aasen took a timeout and drew up a play for Larsen, who keyed Parkview’s 12-0 second-quarter run with her playmaking ability.


“We knew they’d put their kids on Jenna, so we put somebody on the opposite,” Aasen said.


Larsen again broke down the defense with the dribble on the right side before finding Stephanie Aasen back door, where she was fouled by Wegner.


Aasen hit her first free throw before rattling the second in and out, making it 36-35. But Larsen outworked sophomore Torri Gnabasik, who tipped the rebound out of bounds.


Without a timeout, Parkview ran a play that resulted in Reuhl blocking an Aasen attempt out of bounds with 6.6 seconds left.


The Vikings kept their cool as the inbounds went to Stephanie Aasen at the left wing. She dribbled to the left elbow, where she got the ball to Harnack, who stroked the winner in rhythm.


“During practice yesterday, Melissa looked at me and said, ‘Coach, I’ve been struggling,’ ” coach Aasen said. “And I said, ‘Yeah, you have, but you know what. It’s gonna come around. You gotta keep shooting. You gotta keep shooting.’ ”


Parkview led 25-13 at the half and took its biggest lead at 30-14 when Larsen, a 5-11 center, scored five straight points. Larsen had four assists and assisted on or scored eight of Parkview’s nine field goals. The only one she didn’t directly set up was the game-winner.


Jefferson mounted its comeback on the shoulders of senior Jessica Splittgerber, the Rock Valley’s leading scorer at 22.4 points a game. After starting the game 0-for-6 and not hitting her first field goal until the midway point of the second period, Splittgerber rifled off 11 points in less than five minutes to get her team within 31-24.


“Good players are going to get their shots,” Larsen said. “She started out cold, but she came back. We knew they were coming.”


Splittgerber set up a deep three-pointer by sophomore Kristin Wagner from right of the circle that made it a four-point game with 7:18 to play.


But Splittgerber and 6-1 junior Danielle Janny fouled out in the fourth period, with Splittgerber picking up her fifth with 3:10 left.


Jefferson coach Dena Smith said the game was lost long before the frenetic fourth quarter.


“We dug ourselves a huge hole in the first half,” Smith said. “When we get up again a decent team, our M.O. is that we struggle to do some of the little things.”


PARKVIEW 38, JEFFERSON 36

Jefferson (36)—Wagner, 2-0-6; Wegner, 2-0-4; Splittgerber, 5-6-16; Reuhl, 4-0-8; Janny, 1-0-2. Totals: 14-6-36.


Parkview (38)—Harnack, 1-0-3; Neal, 1-0-2; Larsen, 4-10-20; Aasen, 2-6-10; Wellnitz, 1-1-3. Totals: 9-17-38.


Jefferson 6 7 9 14—36


Orfordville Parkview 6 19 6 7—38


Three-point goals—Jefferson 2 (Wagner 2), Parkview 3 (Larsen 2, Harnack). Free throws missed—Jefferson 5, Parkview 6. Total fouls—Jefferson 21, Parkview 14.



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