The first half was pretty; the second half was gritty.
Janesville Parker’s boys basketball team played as good a half in the opening 18 minutes Friday night as it has all season—forcing turnovers, sharing the ball and knocking down shots.
When the game didn’t flow as easily after halftime, the Vikings dug deep, hitting tough shots down the stretch.
The result was a season sweep of visiting Verona, as Parker won 68-58 in a Big Eight Conference game.
“We’ve been working really hard and staying with it the whole year,” said Parker junior Robert DeLong, who led all scorers with 21 points. “We’ve had our ups and downs. This one feels good.”
Parker improved to 3-9 overall and 2-7 in the Big Eight. Verona is 2-11 and 2-8.
“Learning how to win is a process. Every one of these games we get, we get closer to being a little more proficient at it,” Vikings coach Matt Bredesen said.
The second-year coach had to have liked what he saw in the opening 18 minutes.
The Vikings built a 16-4 lead in the opening 7 minutes, 16 seconds.
Four different players scored during that stretch, and the Vikings made three 3-pointers and got one three-point play.
DeLong had 11 of his points in the opening half, and he hit junior Matthew Hartwig on a pick-and-roll play in the final seconds that put Parker up 36-20 at the break.
“If shots go in, we look pretty good,” said Bredesen, whose team was 13 of 28 from the field, including 5 of 9 from beyond the arc, in the first half. “We have to make some shots ... and that’s been a little up and down. But we have a lot of confidence in our guys that are good shooters and let them keep shooting it.”
The shooting percentages remained high in the second half, but Verona refused to go away. The Wildcats twice got within 11 in the opening six-plus minutes out of halftime.
They hit back-to-back 3-pointers and quickly added a three-point play that cut the deficit to seven, 56-49, with 3:46 remaining.
But Parker answered by scoring on five straight possessions. That stretch included two tough buckets from junior Kaden Vernon that restored the double-digit lead.
“I tip my hat to Kaden coming off the bench and making some huge plays at the end,” Bredesen said. “He had a great curl cut and finished with a guy in his face and then made a driving layup.”
DeLong was 5 of 11 from the field, including 3 of 5 from deep. Senior Brady Biba had eight of his 13 points in the second half and was 6 of 10 shooting overall. And junior Brenden Weis made all four of his shot attempts, including two 3s, on the way to a dozen points.
Adam Bekx led Verona with 11.
Parker plays again right away Saturday, taking on West Bend West in the John Chekouras classic at Mequon Homestead at 3:30 p.m.
“We have a mindset of 0-0 and a fresh start,” DeLong said of the team mentality. “Hopefully this is a start and we can change things around.”
PARKER 68, VERONA 58
Verona (58)—H. Anderson 4-3-11, J. Anderson 1-1-3, Bekx 4-3-14, Roddick 3-2-11, Odetunde 0-2-2, Poller 1-2-4, Jannusch 5-0-13. Totals: 18-13-58.
Parker (68)—Vernon 2-0-4, DeLong 5-8-21, Conners 2-0-6, Biba 6-1-13, Bess 2-1-5, Hartwig 3-1-7, Weis 4-2-12. Totals: 24-13-68.
Verona 20 38—58
Janesville Parker 36 32—68
3-point goals—Verona 9 (Bekx 3, Roddick 3, Jannusch 3), Parker 7 (DeLong 3, Weis 2, Conners 2). Free throws missed—Verona 6, Parker 11. Total fouls—Verona 22, Parker 12. Fouled out—Conners.