PARDEEVILLE — As the first man off the bench for Pardeeville’s boys basketball team, junior Jackson Pargman doesn’t always get the same recognition as those who are in the starting lineup, but he’s just fine with that. He knows that can still have a major impact on the game when his team needs him to step in.
That was certainly the case on Saturday afternoon, when the 6-foot-5 forward made what was probably the biggest basket in Pardeeville’s comeback from 13 points down in the final minutes in a WIAA Division 4 sectional final. With Pardeeville trailing 58-52, Pargman drilled a 3-pointer from the top of the key, cutting Mineral Point’s lead down to three with 1 minute, 40 seconds left in what ended up being a 62-61 sectional final victory for the Bulldogs.
Without Pargman making that basket, Pardeeville’s season might be over. But instead of getting ready for the postseason awards banquet, the Bulldogs are gearing up to play Manitowoc Roncalli in a state semifinal on Thursday evening at the Kohl Center in Madison.
“That was a big 3 for us on Saturday. Without that, we wouldn’t have won that game,” Pardeeville senior Nicholas Henke said of Pargman’s basket, which was part of an 18-4 closing run for the Bulldogs.
Playing the role of Pardeeville’s sixth man is nothing new to Pargman. He was the team’s first player off the bench last season, too.
After Pardeeville’s season ended last year with a loss to Cochrane-Fountain City in the sectional semifinals, Pargman was a likely candidate to step into the starting lineup after starting guard Seth Stollfus graduated, but that all changed over the summer when 6-foot-6 senior Duncan Fleiner moved to Pardeeville.
“As a sixth man that came off the bench, (Pargman) gave us a lot of great minutes,” Pardeeville head coach Chris Lindert said. “I think coming into this year, his thought was ‘I’m going to be a starter. We’re losing one senior; I’m going fill right in there.’ Duncan moves to our district and all of a sudden Jackson has to rethink and say ‘I’m going to be in the same role that I was last year.’ He’s done the same thing.”
Pargman doesn’t always contribute big points — he’s averaging just 4.8 points per game and has 11 total points in four postseason games — but he can score. He’s reached double figures two times this year and many won’t forget the career-high 18 points he scored in a regional final victory over Onalaska Luther last year as a sophomore.
Pargman’s teammates recognize his contributions to the team.
“He’s so unselfish. He has no problem (coming off the bench),” said Pardeeville senior Jonathan Kamrath. “I give him a lot of credit. A lot of guys would probably get discouraged coming off the bench, but he does a tremendous job.”
“When we need him, he always provides, just like (against Mineral Point) when he hit that big 3 at the end there,” Fleiner added. “That definitely helped us out, got us excited, and I think it was a key factor.”
Pargman also gives Pardeeville some flexibility with its lineup. Because he is a good ball-handler and can shoot from the outside — he made 41 percent of his 3-pointers on the season — and also has the size to play inside, Pargman can come in and give anyone a breather and the team doesn’t skip a beat.
“You could even take Henke out and have one of us bring up the ball,” senior Logan Zuhlke said. “And he’s tall, he’s got the height, so he can go in for dunks. And he’s a good wing shooter outside. He can hit his shots. He’s a good all-around player and it’s good to have him on the team.”
It’s a role Pargman has relished the last two years.
“For me personally, I like being the sixth man. Coming off the bench gives me a sort of satisfaction that they do need me,” Pargman said. “Lindert has me go in when I’m needed. It was the same thing last year. I started a few games, then in some others I would come off the bench. I like doing it.”
Free throws have paid off
Every basketball coach will tell his team that free throws can often be the deciding factor in games, but that has never been more true than Pardeeville’s two sectional games.
In last Thursday’s 74-68 win over previously undefeated New Glarus in the sectional semifinal, Pardeeville made 21 of 23 free throws overall and were 10 of 12 from the line in the final 1:15, allowing them to hold onto the lead.
Then in Saturday’s sectional final win over Mineral Point, the Bulldogs were 15 of 19 from the line and got the game-winning point when Kamrath made one of two free throws with 0.7 seconds remaining. Mineral Point’s poor free throw shooting was also a huge factor to Pardeeville getting back into the game. The Pointers were just 8-of-17 from the free throw line and made just 2 of 7 free throws in the final 5:04 of the game.
“If they make those free throws, we probably don’t get the opportunity to make that comeback,” Lindert said.
On the season, Pardeeville has made just 65 percent of its free throws, which ranks third out of the four teams in the Division 4 field, with Roncalli leading the way at 69 percent. But those numbers don’t include the two more recent sectional games, when the Bulldogs have been lights out from the line. Henke is Pardeeville’s leading free throw shooter, as he makes 79 percent of his shots from the line, including a perfect 12-for-12 in the last two tournament games.
Henke said coach Lindert has always stressed the importance of free throws.
“I bet coach Lindert has us shoot about 100 a day in practice,” Henke said. “We switch hoops, and we do that for about 15 or 20 minutes. That’s to coach Lindert. He’s got the experience, he knows what we need to do and he’s obviously right.”