Watertown’s student section was relentless on Janesville Parker’s Jena Forrestal and Brooke Graesslin on Saturday night.
Forrestal was serenaded with chants of “ballhog, ballhog,” while Graesslin got to hear “airball, airball” every time she touched the ball.
The chants may have been just the spark the Vikings needed.
Graesslin buried a long 3-pointer with four seconds left in regulation, and Forrestal drained two 3s on back-to-back possessions in overtime to lift Parker to a 45-39 win in a WIAA Division 1 regional final.
The Vikings won their first regional title since 2013.
Parker (10-14) plays top-ranked Mukwonago (22-2) at 7 p.m. Thursday in a sectional semifinal game at Madison Memorial.
After stumbling through an up-and-down regular season, Parker rattled off back-to-back upset wins to start tournament play.
“I’d like to say we’re peaking at the right time, but I’m not sure what we’re doing exactly,” Parker coach Jennah Hartwig said. “All I know is that for the second straight night, these girls found a way to get it done.
“We played terrible basketball the first half. And I thought we played tentatively for about three-quarters of the game. But then all of sudden, things started clicking, and we played really hard and really well.”
Things looked bleak for the Vikes with five minutes left in regulation. Lauren Byrd’s three-point play gave the Goslings a 35-26 lead.
Parker stormed back thanks to baskets from Julia Hartwig, Jacy Benway and Ryann Porter to slice the lead to three with 2:20 left. The teams traded free throws before Graesslin calmly stepped behind the arc and drained a 3 with four seconds left as the Watertown students yelled in her ear.
The overtime was all Forrestal. The sophomore point guard hit her fifth 3-pointer of the game with 1:42 to play and then launched an ill-advised three-pointer on Parker’s next possession that was nothing but net and pushed the lead to 42-36.
Forrestal said she fed off the catcalls coming from the student section.
“I heard them, but I really didn’t care too much,” Forrestal said. “I was feeling it and was going to keep shooting.
“And I think the biggest difference is that we wanted it so bad. I don’t know what was going on the first half, but I think at halftime we all looked at each other and realized this could be our last game. Nobody wanted that.”
Forrestal led all scorers with 21 points, while Hartwig finished with 9 points and 11 rebounds despite battling a painful back injury.
The first half was forgettable for both teams. Parker went scoreless the first nine minutes and trailed 7-0. The Vikings finally got on the board on Benway’s putback with 8:42 left in the half that made it 7-2.
Hartwig, who leads the state in rebounding, was held to four points and three rebounds the first half.
Watertown eventually led 13-9 at the break but probably should’ve led by double digits as poorly as Parker shot the ball.
In the end, the poor first half was all but forgotten.
The Vikings are moving on.
PARKER 45, WATERTOWN 39 (OT)
Parker (45)—Benway, 2-1-5; Forrestal, 6-3-21; Graesslin, 1-2-5; Hartwig, 4-1-9; Porter, 2-1-5. Totals: 15-8-45.
Watertown (39)—Burd, 2-2-6; Koepp, 2-1-7; Maas, 4-4-12; Keeser, 1-0-2; Hendricks, 4-0-12. Totals: 13-7-39.
Parker 9 27 9—45
Watertown 13 23 3—39
Three-point goals—Parker 7 (Forrestal 6, Graesslin), Watertown 6 (Hendricks 4, Koepp 2). Free throws missed—Parker 3, Watertown 4. Total fouls—Parker 16, Watertown 16.