Late shot sends Craig students onto floor in win over Parker
JANESVILLE In this best-of-times/worst-of-times scenario, the tale involved just one city.
At one moment, the Parker Vikings were on the verge of what would have been their biggest victory of a trying season. Eleven seconds later, Craig junior Mike Murphy found himself enveloped by the his student peers.
Murphy buried a deep 3-pointer from just in front of the Cougars’ bench with 2.6 seconds to go on Friday night, then took off to the other end of the floor, followed by a mob of Craig students ready to celebrate a 69-68 victory in the teams’ Big Eight finale.
“It was a play where I come off a double screen and I know Jerry (Ngobi) set a really good screen for me,” Murphy said. “I was hitting my shots all game and that had to be my shot. I figured, ‘This last shot, it’s got to be me and I’ve got to make it.’”
The Vikings (3-19, 1-17 Big Eight) entered the game still seething about a 25-point loss to their crosstown rivals in their own gym earlier this season.
They turned in what might have been their best performance of the season, one that led to a three-point halftime lead over Craig (12-10, 9-9).
“They played so hard and this game meant a lot to them,” Parker coach Ryan Masterson said. “They handed it to us pretty good at our place, and we did everything we needed to do to win, and to their credit they made a big shot.
“It just hurts.”
The Vikings even dug themselves out of a fourth-quarter hole.
Ngobi—who scored a game-high 22 points—took over during a stretch midway through the final stanza, twice helping the Cougars build six-point leads.
“They made us struggle; we struggled with a lot of things,” Craig coach Mike Miller said. “Jerry was very good inside, but our offensive execution wasn’t very good. We had a couple chances to kind of put the game away.”
Instead, the Vikings used a 7-0 run to take a one-point lead into the final minute of the game.
There, Murphy came up with a critical blocked shot, and Craig’s Troy Malmanger converted one of two free throws to tie the game, 66-66.
Coming out of a timeout, Parker junior Adam Thompson—who led the team with 21 points—drove to the basket, recovered from Craig’s attempt to strip the ball and laid it up and in to give the Vikings the lead with 13.6 seconds remaining.
“We left it all out there,” Masterson said. “We just had to make a stop.”
Miller called timeout with exactly 11 seconds left and drew up the play intended to give Murphy—who had sunk four of his six 3-point attempts up to that point—one last crack from beyond the arc.
“We were looking for the 3,” Miller said. “We didn’t want to go to overtime.”
Murphy’s deep shot found nothing but the bottom of the net.
“We wanted to do it for the seniors,” he said. “There’s no way we could’ve had our seniors leave [with a loss].
“This is crazy.”
The Cougars will have nearly a week off to attempt to correct some defensive and rebounding woes from Friday night. The No. 3 seed in their WIAA Division I regional, they’ll host Badger at 7 p.m. Friday.
The Vikings, the ninth seed in the same regional, hope to carry their gritty effort over—but with a better result—when they travel to Kenosha Bradford for a regional opener at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
CRAIG 69, PARKER 68
Parker (68)—Smith, 7-3-17; Scott, 2-1-6; Thompson, 9-1-21; Treinen, 2-0-6; Palan, 3-0-9; Hauger, 3-2-9. Totals: 26-7-68.
Craig (69)—Ngobi, 7-7-22; Foster, 4-4-12; Malmanger, 3-7-15; Maresch, 1-0-3; Murphy, 6-0-17. Totals: 21-18-69.
Janesville Parker 22 15 14 17—68
Janesville Craig 17 17 18 17—69
Three-point goals—Parker 9 (Palan 3, Thompson 2, Treinen 2, Scott, Hauger), Craig 9 (Murphy 5, Malmanger 2, Maresch, Ngobi). Free throws missed—Parker 8, Craig 7. Totals fouls—Parker 17, Craig 14.