Parker girls clinch undisputed title with victory over Craig
JANESVILLE Parker rode a suffocating first quarter all the way to an outright conference championship.
Closing out the regular season at crosstown rival Craig, the Vikings opened Thursday night's girls game with a 9-0 run, led by 16 at halftime and held off the Cougars' second-half surge for a 46-36 victory.
The triumph secured an undisputed Big Eight title for Parker (19-3, 17-1).
"It's really exciting and it hasn't happened in quite a few years, so it's quite an accomplishment for us," Vikings senior Dani Fugate said. "We had a feeling they were going to come out strong on Senior Night, but we knew what we had to do."
Fugate sparked the Vikings from the tip, scoring five of her seven points over the first three possessions.
Parker allowed just two first-quarter baskets, racing out to a 16-4 advantage.
"It was patience," Vikings coach Tom Klawitter said. "Our seniors—Ashley (Hartwig) and Dani and Jackie (Shepler)—again really kind of anchored things and slowed things down to the point that we were getting open looks."
A 9-2 spurt for Craig (11-11, 9-9) to begin the second quarter brought the Cougars back within five points, but the Vikings answered with another big run of their own to close out the first half.
Down 16 at halftime, Craig refused to go quietly.
Junior Alli Calkins led the Cougars with 11 points, including six straight midway through the third quarter. The sequence drew her team within seven.
"I think we needed just one or two more stops," Craig coach Kerry Storbakken said. "Our kids fought that second half and made a game out of it, so give them credit. Down 9-0 and 16 at the half, they could have folded and they didn't."
Parker made just two buckets in the third quarter, but Kathryn Dubanowich opened the fourth with a nerve-calming 3-pointer, her only bucket of the game, and the Vikings led by double figures for most of the rest of the way.
"We said to keep doing what we were doing, that we weren't going to let off, but we played a lot more timid (in the second half)," Fugate said. "We have to make sure we're always up on our feet and can't let them get back in the game."
WIAA state tournament play begins Tuesday with regional quarterfinal games. Neither Craig nor Parker will play until the regional semis on Friday. Two-seeded Parker hosts Burlington, while No. 5-seeded Craig travels to Muskego. Both games are scheduled for 7 p.m.