Jennah Hartwig is looking forward to seeing what the rest of the season brings for her Janesville Parker High girls basketball team.
The Vikings are still looking up at seven squads in the Big Eight Conference standings, but they will enter the second half of the league season with a bit more swagger after beating Madison West and Beloit Memorial in the span of a week.
Brooke Graesslin and Jena Forrestal sizzled offensively, and the Vikings built an overwhelming lead in the first half en route to a 75-53 win over the visiting Purple Knights on Tuesday.
Parker (2-11, 2-7 Big Eight) forced 33 turnovers and moved ahead of Beloit Memorial (1-10, 1-8 Big Eight) into eighth place. The Vikings easily set a season high for points while shooting 56.8 percent against the Big Eight’s worst defensive team (72.2 points allowed per game).
“I’m excited to play some of these teams a second time and see the improvement that we’ve made,” said Hartwig, Parker's head coach. “It’s really exciting to see the girls come in and play with energy and play a little more to their potential these last two games.”
Graesslin led all players with 22 points on 7-of-15 shooting, adding six assists and four steals. The senior has scored 79 points in Parker’s last five games, a stretch that began with a competitive loss to co-league-leading Madison Memorial on Dec. 20.
“I feel like we’ve been improving as the season’s gone on,” Hartwig said. “I thought it started with the Madison Memorial game, even though we lost. We did a lot of good things.”
There was plenty of good in Parker’s first half Tuesday against Beloit Memorial. Forrestal scored eight early points, including a pair of 3s, to power the Vikings to an 11-3 lead less than three minutes in.
Parker led 43-17 at halftime.
Forrestal made all five of her 3-point attempts—three in the first half—and finished with 20 points, tying her season-high.
“They were up and they were being aggressive on defense,” Hartwig said of Graesslin and Forrestal. “I think that helps them be more aggressive and ready to shoot on offense.”
Foul trouble for Parker early in the second half allowed the Purple Knights to hang around. Beloit Memorial pulled within 20 points several times in the final minutes, prompting the Vikings to redeploy the full-court press that helped them force 26 turnovers in the first half.
Freshman Bre Davis led the Purple Knights with 21 points. Beloit Memorial shot 33.3 percent in its fourth straight loss.
Jasmyn Demrow added 11 points and eight rebounds for the Vikings, while Ryann Porter had eight points and eight rebounds.
The Vikings open the second round of conference play Friday, when they host Verona in the third of six consecutive home games.
PARKER 75, BELOIT 53
Beloit (53)—Bessell 1-0-2, Burner 1-0-2, Thomas 2-0-5, Drucker 2-3-7, Davis 8-3-21, Peppers 1-3-5, Renteria 2-0-4, Pabst 1-5-7. Totals: 18-14-53.
Parker (75)—Rosga 0-2-2, J. Forrestal 7-1-20, Porter 3-2-8, B. Forrestal 1-1-3, Dooman 1-0-2, Demrow 3-5-11, Graesslin 7-4-22, Lippens 0-1-1, Luek 2-1-6. Totals: 24-17-75.
Beloit Memorial 17 36—53
Janesville Parker 43 32—75
3-point goals—Beloit 3 (Davis 2, Thomas 1), Parker 10 (J. Forrestal 5, Graesslin 4, Luek 1). Free throws missed—Beloit 13, Parker 18. Total fouls—Beloit 18, Parker 21. Fouled out—Drucker.