Janesville Parker’s girls basketball team got caught in the twilight zone Friday night.
Verona’s tenacious 1-2-2 zone defense gave the Vikings fits in the Wildcats’ 29-27 Big Eight Conference victory at Parker.
Parker (6-7, 4-6) scored just 10 points in the first half and could get nothing going offensively in losing for the second time to Verona (6-8, 6-4) this season.
The Vikings trailed by two with time running down and had two chances to tie or take the lead, but turnovers on back-to-back possessions dashed any hopes.
Verona missed two free throws with 2.8 seconds left, but a 3-point attempt from just inside halfcourt by Parker’s Brooke Graesslin bounced off the front of the rim as time expired.
Parker coach Jennah Hartwig was frustrated with her team’s lack of execution down the stretch.
“It just comes down to we can’t be afraid to win,” Hartwig said. “We’ve been in these situations enough where it’s time that somebody steps up and makes a play.
“And it doesn’t help that we couldn’t practice yesterday because of the weather. We had to go home after school, while Verona was able to stay and practice.”
The first half was a defensive struggle. Parker went the the first five minutes without scoring before Jacy Benway hit a 3-pointer to make it 8-3 Verona.
The Wildcats frustrated the Vikings, especially junior forward Julia Hartwig, on offense. The Big Eight’s leading scorer, at 18.5 points per game, was held to three points in the first half. Verona eventually led 16-10 at the break.
Parker started well to start the second half and took a 19-18 lead on Cam Rosga’s basket with 12:17 to play. It was Parker’s only lead of the game.
Verona quickly regained the lead and kept the margin between three and five points over the next nine minutes. Hartwig hit back-to-back baskets to pull Parker even at 27-27 with 4:24 to play, but the Vikings did not score the rest of the way. Chandler Bainbridge got the last points of the game on a jumper from the baseline with 3:46 to play.
Verona missed its last six free throws, while Parker was 0-for-4 the second half. The two teams were a combined 2-for-15 from the line.
Parker had two opportunities in the last minute to tie or take the lead, but a traveling and a five-second call turned the ball over both times.
Hartwig led all scorers with 11 points and added 11 rebounds, but she was the only Viking in double figures.
“We played so tight, but yet so did they,” Jennah Hartwig said of Verona. “They made as many mistakes and turnovers as we did. The game was there for us to win, but we didn’t grab it.
“And we rushed too many shots. Our offense was much more effective when we set up and passed the ball around and looked for the open man. It’s very frustrating.”
Parker hosts Madison La Follette on Thursday night.
VERONA 29, PARKER 27
Verona (29)—Bainbridge 5-0-10; Briggs 4-1-9; K. Penn 2-0-4; Rae 2-0-4; Mueller 1-0-2. Totals: 14-1-29.
Parker (27)—Benway 3-0-7; Shelton 1-0-2; Graesslin 1-0-3; Hartwig 5-1-11; Veguilla 1-0-2; Rosga 1-0-2. Totals: 12-1-27.
Verona 16 13—29
Janesville Parker 1017—27
Three-point goals—Parker 2 (Benway, Graesslin). Free throws missed—Verona 9, Parker 4. Total fouls—Verona 9, Parker 14.