Verona's free throws put down Parker
One night after knocking off eighth-ranked Middleton, the Wildcats dispatched seventh-ranked Janesville Parker, 46-40, to move into a first-place tie in Big Eight Conference girls basketball.
Saturday night, the Wildcats (11-2, 9-2) got it done by switching to a man-to-man defense and making all 14 of their fourth-quarter free throws. An 18-2 second half run proved to be the difference.
“We couldn’t make anything,” said Parker guard Savannah Shepler of the Verona run, which included a seven-minute drought between Parker baskets.
“We couldn’t get any offensive rebounds, and their defense was really pressuring us,” Shepler added. “We were very impatient. I think we get so flustered, so quickly, that we feel like we have to score 20 points in one possession.”
Shepler drained back-to-back three-pointers to give the Vikings (10-3, 8-2) a 27-20 lead midway through the third quarter. But Verona quickly switched to a man-to-man defense to rally back as Parker went into its funk.
Ali Tacket had eight of her game-high 21 points in the run, while teammate Allie Pfeffer added six and finished with 13 points.
Verona also made all 20 of its second-half free throws and finished 23 of 24. Parker finished four of nine on free throws.
“That was pretty much the difference,” Parker coach Tom Klawitter said of the Verona free throws. “I’ll have to look at the film to see why there was such a discrepancy.”
After a Parker timeout, Brianna Prokopec ended the drought with a three-pointer from the top of the key to cut the deficit to 38-32 with 3:18 left. After Tackett made two free throws, Kaynesha Zinn countered with a layup, and Kathryn Pernot added a layup to cut the Verona lead to 40-36 with 2:31 remaining.
Pernot followed up with a steal on the next possession, but Parker came up empty and Kelsey Zwagga added two more free throws.
Shepler answered with a step back three-pointer from the top of the key with 46 seconds left to pull the Vikings within 42-39 and came up with a steal, which led to Prokopec making a free throw with 21 seconds left to make it 42-40.
But Tacket closed out the win by making all four of her free throws in the final 15 seconds to keep Verona in front.
“I’m,so proud of the girls. They just kept battling,” Verona coach Angie Murphy said. “It was a tough weekend, playing Middleton on a Friday night and come back tonight.
“We played tight, but the girls loosened up, and we picked up the pressure on them to try and swing the momentum back our way.”
Danielle Flood led Parker with 13 points, while Zinn added 10.
VERONA 46, PARKER 40
Parker (40)—Pernot, 1-0-2; Flood, 4-3-13; Shepler, 3-0-9; Zinn, 5-0-10; Hartwig, 1-0-2; Prokopec, 1-1-4. Totals 15-4-40.
Verona (46)—Stone, 1-6-8; Zwaga, 1-2-4; Pfeffer, 4-5-13; Tackett, 5-10-21. totals: 11-23-46
Janesville Parker 9 10 10 11—40
Verona 6 12 8 20—46
Three-point goals—Parker 6 (Shepler 3, Flood 2, Prokopec), Verona 1 (Tackett). Free throws missed—Parker 5, Verona 1. Total fouls—Parker 18, Verona 13.
Sophomores—Parker 49, Verona 44. Parker leaders: Natalie McDonald 13, Jackie Shepler 10.