Poor first half dooms Parker girls
The Janesville Parker High School guard wasn’t alone, as host Middleton scorched the Vikings’ defense for 37 first-half points and held on for the 52-44 victory.
The win vaulted the Cardinals (10-2) into first place in Big Eight girls basketball, while fourth-ranked Parker dropped to 6-1 in the conference and 8-2 overall.
“I don’t even know who that team was in the first half,” Shepler of the Vikings. “We didn’t play like Parker basketball, at all.”
Before this showdown, the Parker defense held teams to an average of 34.4 points a game, with a high of 44 in the Vikings’ 44-37 nonconference loss to Sheboygan North. However, Middleton raced out to a 32-15 lead after a 13-0 run, capped by an Erin Flynn three-pointer, and led 37-25 at halftime.
Flynn had three of the four Middleton first-half three-pointers to help break the game open and finished with a game-high 13 points.
“It was my fault defensively,” Parker coach Tom Klawitter said. “I gave the kids too much to do and think about, instead of going out and (letting them) do what they do best.
“Maybe I kind of out-smarted myself at the beginning of the game. But I thought we made the adjustments in the second half.”
Middleton made its first six shots in the second quarter, with its first misfire coming with a 1:40 left in the half. Meanwhile, Parker missed its first six shots in a drought of 5:42 during the Cardinals’ second-quarter run.
Shepler stopped the run with a layup and added two-three-pointers for eight of Parker’s 10 points in the quarter. The junior finished with 12 points. Danielle Flood also had 12 to lead the Vikings.
Rachel Rongstad pushed the Middleton lead to 40-25 on a three-pointer to open the second half. But the Cardinals went on an 8:03 drought that allowed Parker to close within 40-34 on Flood’s left-handed scoop shot to end the third quarter.
Parker narrowed the gap to 49-44 on Kaynesha Zinn’s jumper with 1:57 remaining. But the Vikings missed three consecutive jumpers before Flynn made two free throws with 16 seconds left to give Middleton a 51-44 lead.
“It’s a big confidence-booster for us,” Flynn said. “But we can’t be satisfied with this. We had a good game tonight, but we can always get better.”
After allowing Middleton to make 14 of its 27 shots in the first half (52 percent), Parker limited the Cardinals to five baskets (on 20 attempts) and one three-pointer over the final 30 minutes.
But the Vikings failed to capitalize, as they made just four of 14 shots in the fourth quarter, while Middleton made three of its five free throws in the final 45 seconds to stay in front.
“No one could make anything at the end,” Shepler said. “I don’t mean to blame it on the refs, but sometimes you don’t get the calls you want and you get frustrated, so it is hard to come back.”
MIDDLETON 52, PARKER 44
Parker (44)—Franklin, 1-0-2; Flood, 5-2-12; S. Shepler, 4-2-12; Zinn, 1-3-5; Pernot, 2-0-4; Hartwig, 2-1-5; Prokopec, 1-0-2; Dement 1-0-2. Totals: 17-8-44.
Middleton (52)—Passini, 3-0-6; Flynn, 4-2-13; Gardner, 4-3-11; Eklund, 4-0-8; Rongstad, 3-0-8; Williams, 0-3-3; Gunderson, 0-1-1; Dolan, 1-0-2. Totals: 19-9-52.
Janesville Parker 15 10 9 10—44
Middleton 20 17 3 12—52
Three-point goals—Parker 2 (Shepler 2), Middleton 5 (Flynn 3, Rongstad 2). Free throws missed—Parker 4, Middleton 10. Total fouls—Parker 16, Middleton 13.
Sophomores—Parker 42, Middleton 40. Parker scoring leaders: Kacey Pennycook, 15, Nicole Fugate, 10.