Parker falls short in upset bid
Unfortunately for the Vikings, the fourth quarter didn’t go as well as the first three.
Senior point guard Kerry Gardner scored 11 of her 18 points in the final quarter as Middleton beat the Vikings, 61-45, in a Big Eight Conference game Friday night.
“We played about as hard as we could,’’ Janesville Parker coach Tom Klawitter said. “We gave them a pretty good shot.’’
The Vikings led for almost the entire first half. After Gardner made two free throws to give the Cardinals a 2-0 lead 47 seconds in, Parker (13-6 overall, 10-6 Big Eight) ripped off the next nine points. When sophomore Dani Fugate banked in a three-pointer from the right baseline 22 seconds into the second quarter, the Vikings led 17-7.
“It was a battle,’’ said Middleton coach Jeff Kind, whose team has already clinched its fifth straight Big Eight title. “It was hard to get going. I thought they outhustled us in the first half. But to our credit, our girls kept the pressure on.’’
The Cardinals (19-1, 16-0) eventually tied the game at 23 on a three-pointer from the top of the key by senior forward Rachael Rongstad with 38 seconds left before halftime. Parker took a 25-23 lead into the locker room when Fugate grabbed an offensive rebound, was fouled and made two free throws with 19.9 seconds left.
Parker led 27-23 but appeared in trouble when sophomore wing Ashley Hartwig was called for two fouls in a one-second span less than two minutes into the half. Erin McCauley’s three-pointer from the left wing with 4:26 left in the third quarter gave Middleton its first lead since early in the game at 31-29.
Gardner capped the 12-0 run with a driving layup less than 2 minutes later.
But the Vikings refused to fold. Fugate scored on a layup, senior Danielle Flood nailed a rainbow three-pointer from the right wing, and junior Julia Dement stole the ball and drove for a layup to bring Parker within 37-36 with 42 seconds left in the quarter.
The Vikings were still within 45-39 after Hartwig made two free throws with 5:14 left. However, Middleton ripped off six straight points in a 1:15 span to take a 51-39 lead and effectively put the game away.
The Vikings didn’t help their cause by committing 19 turnovers and missing 14 free throws. The Cardinals, meanwhile, were 11-of-15 from the foul line in the final quarter.
“It’s so typical in a game like that,’’ Klawitter said. “Little things come up and bite you. … Defense was going to win this game and we didn’t handle their traps. We just can’t do that. That comes with experience. … They have a lot of seniors on the floor.’’
Flood played more than 31 minutes and led the Vikings with 16 points. She also had five rebounds and two assists and guarded Gardner for most of the game.
“She’s their primary ball handler,’’ Kind said of Flood. “We wanted to make her work hard every time she got the ball and even harder to get the ball back. It takes a strong player to do that, and it has to wear on you.’’
Parker hasn’t beaten Middleton since the 2008-09 season. The Vikings could get one more shot if the two teams advance to the WIAA Division 1 Super Tuesday sectional at UW-Whitewater next month.
“That would be pretty special,’’ Klawitter said.
MIDDLETON 61, PARKER 45
Parker (45)—Schumacher 0-1-1, Larson 0-1-1; Flood, 6-2-16; Fugate 3-3-11, Dement, 2-0-4; Kuhl 1-0-2; Hartwig, 4-2-10. Totals: 16-9-45.
Middleton (61)—McCauley 1-0-3, Passini 0-3-3, Williams 2-2-6, Gunderson 3-2-9, Staples 1-0-2, Gardner 4-9-18, Eklund 5-0-10, Rongstad 2-5-10. Totals: 18-21-61.
Janesville Parker 14 11 11 9—45
Middleton 7 16 16 23—61
Three-point goals—Parker 4 (Flood 2, Fugate 2), Middleton 4 (McCauley, Gunderson, Gardner, Rongstad). Free throws missed—Parker 14, Middleton 5. Total fouls—Parker 19, Middleton 21. Fouled out—Williams.