Parker boys give Beloit a scare
Special to the Gazette
Barkin Arena has been a house of horrors for Janesville Parker High School’s boys basketball teams.
The Vikings have not won there since 1986, and despite a gallant effort and giving Big Eight Conference co-champion Beloit Memorial a major scare here Saturday, they again were unable to exorcise their demons on the Purple Knights’ court.
Instead, Beloit gained just enough breathing room in the final minute to pull out a 62-56 victory over Parker in the WIAA Division 1 regional finals.
The heavily favored Purple Knights (19-4), ranked 10th in the state, withstood a late charge from Parker (9-15) to hold on and qualify for a sectional semifinal game Thursday night against Franklin (18-5) at Kenosha Tremper.
Except for an early 3-2 lead, Parker trailed the entire game but closed to within 51-50 and then 57-55 with less than a minute left when junior guard Erik Albeck nailed a three-pointer. The Vikings could get no closer, however, as Beloit converted on 12 free throws in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
Nonetheless, Parker coach Ryan Masterson was proud of the way his team played.
“We felt confident coming in that we could play with them,” he said. “We played them a week ago and felt we went toe-to-toe (in a 73-64 loss), and we gave them everything we’ve got (in this game).
“It’s a tough atmosphere, and they’re conference champs for a reason. They made some big plays.
“I couldn’t be prouder of my kids. I think we improved as much as any team I’ve been around as the year went on.
“They’ll look back on this season, and obviously it hurts right now. They really gave us everything we could ask for,” Masterson said. “I couldn’t have been around a nicer group of kids. I think they really put some good foundation for the future of Parker basketball.”
As for the present, both teams began the game with cold shooting. Parker made just two of 17 field-goal attempts in the first quarter and trailed 13-7, as Beloit was almost as cold, going 4-for-13 from the field.
The Purple Knights began to find their groove in the second quarter, surging ahead 22-9 and 26-12, behind the hot three-point shooting of senior guard Dennis Crosby.
The Vikings, however, closed the half on a 10-0 run to trail only 26-22. Junior guard Andrew Somerville made a series of key plays to keep Parker in contention, and he finished the game with 18 points.
“He’s a competitor,” Masterson said of Somerville, a 5-11 junior. “He can shoot well. He’s a small guy, but he’s not afraid to take it in, so we’re expecting big things out of him next year.”
Beloit held Parker standout Creed Knutson in check in the first half. After back-to-back 30-point games, the 6-5 senior forward had just two points at intermission but exploded in the second half with 17 to nearly lead his team to the upset.
“Creed is a great kid,” Masterson said. “He’s gotten better every year. He’s a true leader. I think he’ll be a success at the next level.
“We obviously wouldn’t have achieved what we did without him. In my opinion, he’s player of the year in the conference.”
And with Knutson stepping up, Beloit could not separate itself from the determined Vikings in the second half. Although they shot 60 percent from the field in the third quarter, the Purple Knights headed into the final period with just a seven-point lead.
After the Knights extended their lead to 11 early in the fourth quarter, it looked as though Parker’s season was coming to a decisive end. The Vikings responded with a 16-6 run, though, capped by Knutson’s three-pointer with 2:17, left to pull within 51-50, but they couldn’t overtake Beloit.
With 12.9 seconds remaining, Somerville hit one of two free throws to get Parker within 59-56. The Vikings then fouled senior forward Mike Weston with 10.9 seconds left, and he sank both free throws to make it a five-point game.
Knutson missed a three-pointer as time wound down, and Beloit grabbed the rebound and added another free throw to hang on for the victory.
Crosby finished with 19 points to lead Beloit, which again played without leading scorer Leketreius Broomfield.
BELOIT 62, PARKER 56
Parker (56)—Somerville, 4-8-18, Thompson, 1-0-3, Long, 2-0-6, Schroeder, 1-0-2, Albeck, 2-0-6, Knutson, 6-6-19, Lloyd, 1-0-2. Totals: 17-14-56.
Beloit (62)—Weston, 0-6-6, Winston, 4-4-12, Green, 3-1-8, Crosby, 6-3-19, Roegner, 3-0-7, Ross, 4-0-8, Neal, 0-2-2. Totals: 20-16-62.
Janesville Parker 7 15 11 23—56
Beloit Mermorial 13 13 14 23—62
Three-point goals—Parker 8 (Somerville 2, Thompson 1, Long 2, Albeck 2, Knutson 1), Beloit 6 (Green 1, Crosby 4, Roegner 1). Free throws missed—Parker 10, Beloit 8.