The venue and a couple of the key actors were different, but the second meeting this season between the Janesville Parker and Verona Area girls basketball teams followed a familiar script.
It goes something like this: The Vikings start slowly, falling into a huge first-half hole. By the time they start to climb out, the outcome has mostly been determined.
“No energy,” Parker coach Jennah Hartwig said following Friday’s 61-38 home loss to Verona to open the second half of the Big Eight Conference schedule.
“I don’t think we believed we were going to beat them and so we played like that.”
The result was extra disheartening for Parker’s fourth-year coach considering how well her team had been playing lately. The Vikings (2-12, 2-8 Big Eight) had won their last two games and had had several productive practices in the past week.
Those good feelings vanished as the Wildcats (9-6, 6-5 Big Eight) bolted to a 21-2 lead in the first seven minutes.
Parker made 2 of its first 21 field-goal attempts, and was shooting just 18.5 percent at halftime even after scoring nine straight points late in the half to pull within 16.
“I felt like this was a huge step back from what we’ve been working on and where we’ve been going as a team,” Hartwig said. “It’s extremely disappointing.”
Brooke Graesslin led the Vikings with 12 points and three 3-pointers, Jasmyn Demrow had nine points and Ryann Porter had five points, four rebounds and four blocks. Parker shot 28.2 percent from the field.
Verona’s Aaliyah Smith totaled 23 points on 11-of-20 shooting, strengthening her bid to win the Big Eight’s individual scoring title as a freshman. The talented guard leads the league at 19.9 points per game, highlighted by a 38-point explosion against Madison Memorial in mid-December.
Smith did not play Nov. 16, when the Wildcats opened up a 16-point halftime lead on their way to beating the Vikings 57-39.
Graesslin made a pair of free throws with 5:20 to play, getting Parker within 15 points of Verona, 50-35, but Smith answered with back-to-back buckets, including a fadeaway jumper along the baseline, to boost the Wildcats again.
Rayna Briggs scored 14 points, while Rachel Parman added 13 for Verona, which sits in sixth place in the 10-team Big Eight.
“We’re just trying to figure out, even halfway through the season, where we’re going to get our points from consistently other than Briggs and Smith,” Verona coach Angie Murphy said.
Parker will play the fourth of six consecutive home games Thursday, when it hosts crosstown rival Janesville Craig. The Cougars won the first meeting Nov. 20, 54-45.
VERONA 61, JANESVILLE PARKER 38
Verona (61)—Briggs 3-6-14, Kundinger 2-0-4, Smith 11-1-23, Parman 5-0-13, Pederson 1-0-2, Rae 1-1-3, Toman 1-0-2. Totals: 24-8-61.
Parker (38)—Rosga 0-2-2, Forrestal 2-2-6, Porter 2-1-5, Demrow 4-1-9, Graesslin 4-1-12, Luek 1-1-4. Totals: 13-8-38.
Verona 32 29—61
Parker 14 24—38
3-point goals—Verona 3 (Briggs 2, Parman 1), Parker 4 (Graesslin 3, Luek 1). Free throws missed—Verona 9, Parker 7. Total fouls—Verona 16, Parker 16. Fouled out—Porter.