Playing on the road in the Big Eight Conference has not been kind to Janesville Parker’s boys basketball program.
The Vikings came into their season-opening game at Verona on Friday without a road win in the conference since Dec. 15, 2015.
The drought ended in a big way.
Brenden Weis scored 15 points to lead five players in double figures as the Vikings pulled away for a 70-60 Big Eight win.
Parker led by 16 at half and saw the lead cut to three, but it put the game away from the free-throw line late. The Vikings made seven free throws over the last 2:34 to secure their first conference road win since beating Madison La Follette 72-63 in 2015.
“Obviously, we’ve got to work on our end-of-game situations, because we took some shots we didn’t need to,” Parker coach Matt Bredesen said. “But to get a win on the road in this conference for the first time in almost five years is great.
“I said before the season started that the key for this group is learning how to win. Tonight was a good start.”
Parker took control with a 20-5 run to end the first half.
Freshman Sam Bess came off the bench for Parker to score 11 points in those 18 minutes, including a 3-pointer with 28 seconds left that pushed Parker’s lead to 36-23. Brady Biba’s three-point play with seven seconds left gave the Vikings their 39-23 halftime lead.
“What I really liked about the first half was that we got great contributions from a bunch of guys,” Bredesen said. “Sam Bess gave us a big lift, and Braxton Connors was a spark on both ends.
“We got away from what worked for us offensively in the first half to start the second half, but other than missing a bunch of free throws—something that bothered us last year, too—we kept our composure and got the win.”
Parker missed 21 free throws but made some key ones down the stretch.
Matthew Hartwig has a big second half and finished with 13 points for Parker. Robert DeLong and Biba added 10 points each.
Parker hosts crosstown rival Janesville Craig (2-0, 1-0) on Thursday night.
PARKER 70, VERONA 60
Parker (70)—Thompson 1-3-5, DeLong 3-3-10; Biba 2-6-10; Hartwig 4-5-13; Weis 5-5-15; Bess 4-2-11; Conners 3-0-6. Totals: 21-24-7.
Verona (60)—McCorkle 1-0-2; Anderson 10-1-22; Odetunde 1-3-5; Roddick 3-0-8; Rae 1-2-4; Kisting 2-6-12; Sherry 0-1-1; Luek 3-0-6. Totals: 21-13-60
Janesville Parker 39 31—70.
Verona 23 37—60
3-point goals—Parker 4 (Conners 2, Bess, DeLong), Verona 5 (Kisting 2, Roddick 2, Anderson). Free throws missed—Parker 21, Verona 8. Total fouls—Parker 20, Verona 30.