By Kai Raymer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
One-point game. Crunch time in the state playoffs.
As he caught the ball without a defender near him on the right wing, Parkview sophomore Alonzo Riwa only had one thought: take the shot.
“I’m like, ‘I gotta shoot it,” Riwa said. “I’m open.”
Riwa took and made one of the biggest shots in recent Parkview basketball history.
His 3-pointer with two minutes remaining put Parkview ahead by four and carried the Vikings to a 63-55 playoff victory over Joplin Wednesday night at Drury’s O’Reilly Family Event Center.
“We had literally just said (in the huddle): ‘Time is our friend right here, let’s get buckets at the rim,’” said Vikings coach Landon Cornish. “Inside-out 3s are something we talk about and get. We did have good penetration and (Riwa) stepped into (the shot).
“Clearly, Zo was feeling it. It was a big shot at a big time.”
Added Riwa: “(Coach) looked at me like I was crazy when I made it. I don’t usually pass up open shots, but it was definitely an in-the-moment thing.”
The Vikings (18-10 overall) forced a key turnover after Riwa’s 3-pointer to prevent a Joplin response. They clinched the victory at the free throw line in the final 1:30.
Junior Tyem Freeman led the way with 27 points.
Parkview, which won its first district title in 28 years last Thursday, moves on to the Class 5 quarterfinals. The Vikings face Class 5 No. 2-ranked Rock Bridge (26-1 overall) at 7:45 p.m. Saturday at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar.
The Vikings were without two key starters on Wednesday night: point guard Dontae Taylor (12.5 ppg) and leading 3-point shooter Gage Clark (team-high 46 3-pointers).
“We’ve been through so much already this season with adversity and having to deal with things like that,” Cornish said. “We’re not going to duck our heads and worry about the stuff we can’t control.”
“Our message was: ‘You’re in here. We’re going to fight. This is the last possible game. If we lose, we go home. What do you have to say? Let’s just leave it all out there and go and do it.’”
Taylor and Clark aren’t expected to play Saturday night against Rock Bridge, Cornish said.
Minus two starters, the Vikings went back-and-forth with Joplin in a game that included highlight-reel dunks and dagger 3s.
Parkview’s by-committee point guard rotation of Riwa, Demarcus Mason and Daru Elliott kept the Vikings afloat.
“If you had seen us play at the beginning of the year, there’s no way we could handle that,” Cornish said. “To be in this environment, and especially when (Joplin) came back and hit some big 3s? The last month we have grown leaps and bounds. That was evident tonight.”
Riwa’s pivotal 3-pointer, which put Parkview up 55-51, came moments after Mason had fouled out.
Joplin led 44-42 entering the fourth quarter. The Vikings ripped off eight straight points, highlighted by a Freeman basket, a thunderous blocked shot from 6’8” junior Latre Morrison and a score from Elliott.
Sophomore Zach Westmoreland scored 17 to lead Joplin (18-10 overall). The Eagles graduate a six-player senior class.
Parkview 63, Joplin 55
Parkview 13 13 16 21 – 63
Joplin 14 14 16 11 — 55
Parkview – Tyem Freeman 27, Alonzo Riwa 13, Daru Elliott 7, Latre Morrison 6, Damarcus Mason 6, Anthony Green 4
Joplin – Zach Westmoreland 17, Austin Higdon 15, Evan Guillory 12, Braeden Testerman 6, Isaiah Davis 3, Blake Tash 2