Parker girls bounce back with victory over Beloit
The answer was “yes”—barely.
Parker High survived a frantic battle with Beloit Memorial to gain a 44-42 victory in a Big Eight Conference game.
Meanwhile, Parker also now knows Shepler, a 5-7 senior, can’t be replaced, and coach Tom Klawitter is looking for ways to adjust without her.
The Vikings got off to a slow start against Beloit (4-8, 2-7), committing four turnovers on its first four possessions. Klawitter said the rough start was a result of Friday’s bad news and bad game.
“Yesterday was just tough on the girls,” he said. “We found out we have lost Savannah for the rest of the season, and that affected our performance against Middleton, one of the best teams in the state.”
A win in Saturday afternoon’s game was the best medicine possible for the shaken Vikings. It lifted them to 6-3 in the Big Eight and 9-3 overall.
“It took a lot to stay in this game when Beloit tied it up and then took a lead in the final minutes,” Klawitter said. “When someone banks in a three against us, we usually lose, but somebody was looking over us today.”
Beloit’s Danielle Heldt banked in the three-point goal with 2:50 left to tie the game at 38-38. The Purple Knight built a 42-38 lead with 58 seconds left before the momentum sharply turned to Parker via turnovers.
With 44 seconds left, Parker’s Danielle Flood forced a turnover and was fouled. She sank both free throws to pull the Vikings within 42-40.
Beloit also turned the ball over on its next possession, and Flood again was fouled. She made both free throws to force a 42-42 tie.
After Beloit’s Hailee Lawver missed two free throws, Parker’s Ashley Hartwig took the rebound and fired an outlet pass to Natalie McDonald, who drove the court and put in the winning basket with 14.9 seconds left.
After a fourth Beloit turnover, McDonald got the ball again and was fouled, but she missed the front end of the bonus.
Beloit took the rebound and called a timeout with 4.5 seconds left. The Purple Knights had to go the length of the court, with Brianna Marzette tossing up a long shot from beyond the three-point arc that bounced off the right side of the rim as the final buzzer sounded.
“We challenged them at halftime,” Klawitter said of his players, “but it wasn’t so much coaching as it was that they believed in their hearts that they could win.”
However, the loss of Shepler can’t be understated, Klawitter said.
“It’s going to take awhile for us to understand our roles,” he said. “Everybody now has different roles to play, and I think that’s a tough thing for the girls.”
Klawitter made it clear he can’t expect Flood to simply make up for the loss of Shepler.
“Danielle is our point guard, and she has a role,” Klawitter said. “She’s a senior and a leader, but it’s not fair to expect her to do what she does, and at the same time, make up for the loss of Savannah.”
Flood played a major role in Saturday’s win. The 5-6 senior took over when the Vikings needed ball control. She also led all scorers with 18 points and made four straight critical free throws in the closing minute.
Hartwig, a 5-10 sophomore, also had a solid game, especially in the first half when she scored 10 of her 12 points.
The surprise of the game was 5-5 junior guard McDonald. She came off the bench to not only score the winning basket, but she also battled for loose balls, causing key Beloit turnovers in the closing minute.
Heldt led Beloit with 14 points, but the Knights had no other double-figure scorers.
As for the bottom line, Klawitter emphasized that there are no excuses for the Vikings in future games.
“We’ll miss her (Shepler), but the season goes on,” he said. “This is the last time we’ll focus on her loss because we now have to see who will step up.”
Despite the challenges ahead without Shepler, there’s a way to make progress, Klawitter said.
“This is exciting for the entire team.” Klawitter said. “The assistant coaches are doing a heck of a job substituting.
“We’re going to find somebody to step up, but it could be a position by committee for some time. This will, hopefully, lead to great practices as we go forward.”
PARKER 44, BELOIT 42
Parker (44)—Larson, 2-0-4; Flood, 5-7-18; Dement, 0-1-1; Hartwig, 5-2-12; Fugate, 2-0-4; McDonald, 2-1-5. Totals: 16-11-44.
Beloit Memorial (42)—Marzette, 3-2-9; Hailee Lawver, 2-2-8; Hannah Lawver, 1-1-4; Gill, 2-3-7; Heldt, 6-1-14. Totals: 14-9-42.
Janesville Parker 11 12 10 11—44
Beloit Memorial 7 16 8 11—42
Three-point goals—Parker 1 (Flood), Beloit 5 (Hailee Lawver 2, Hannah Lawver, Marzette, Gill). Free throws missed—Parker 14, Beloit 5. Total fouls—Parker 13, Beloit 20. Fouled out—Hannah Lawver.
Sophomores—Parker 51, Beloit 44. Parker leading scorers: Jackie Shepler, 13; Christine Gunn, 12.