Two boys basketball programs aspiring to build a defensive tradition found each other’s offenses to their liking Wednesday night.
Janesville Parker struggled from the floor and finished 25 points under its scoring average, but it held Watertown 22 points under its average and escaped with a 39-35 road win.
Senior guard Brenden Weis scored a game-high 15 points for Parker (7-3), which scored six of the game’s final nine points over the final three minutes to prevail.
“I think the defensive effort was very good,” Parker coach Matt Bredesen said. “I think Watertown had to really work for everything that they got, and that’s something that has been an ongoing emphasis for us since I took over three years ago is to try to get better on the defensive end. This year, we really have.”
The Vikings enjoyed a height advantage with 6-foot-7 junior forward Jacob Naber in the post and Weis at 6-6 shadowing shooters along the arc.
Watertown (3-3) was also forced to play without its top post presence, 6-3 junior forward Nathan Gapinski after a recent contact tested positive for COVID-19.
Gapinski torched Janesville Craig for 23 points in Watertown’s 76-53 win over the Cougars last week, but the Goslings were a different team against Parker.
“We played so hard and we played so well and you can’t make excuses,” Watertown boys basketball coach Jim O’Leary said. “You have to play and you have to rise up. Five kids scored. We’re used to 10. You’ve got to give Parker a lot of credit for that. They made it tough.”
The Vikings played with slim leads throughout the game, taking their biggest advantage at 31-24 after a 3-pointer by senior guard Ethan Thompson and a free throw from senior forward Matthew Hartwig with 11 minutes left in regulation.
Watertown managed to hang around behind a team-high 13 points from senior guard Jackson Wehner and timely scoring from senior guard Patrick Lampe.
Weis and Naber each hit a pair of free throws and senior guard Braxton Connors converted a steal in the final 1:10.
“Offensively, we didn’t shoot very well,” Bredesen said. “We haven’t shot the ball really well the last couple games. It’s kind of a tribute to our kids and their resilience that they can fight through that.”
Parker plays at Mukwonago at 4 p.m. Saturday.
PARKER 39, WATERTOWN 35Parker (39) — Vernon 0 1-2 1, Thomspon 4 0-0 9, DeLong 1 1-4 4, Connors 1 0-0 2, Hartwig 1 1-3 3, Naber 1 3-5 5, Weis 4 6-10 15. Totals 12 12-24 39
Watertown (35) — Wehner 4 2-3 13, Meyers 2 1-2 7, Shelton 1 0-0 2, Lampers 3 1-2 7, Roberts 3 0-0 6 Totals 13 4-7 35
Janesville Parker 21 18—39
Watertown 18 17—35
3-point goals—JP 3 (Thompson 1, DeLong 1, Weis 1), W 5 (Wehner 3, Meyers 2). Total fouls—JP 6, W 20