By Denise Tucker (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
The Parkview Lady Vikings used a big second quarter on their way to a 68-55 victory over the Branson Lady Pirates on Wednesday afternoon in a first-round Pink Division game in the Pink & White Lady Classic at Drury University’s Weiser Gym.
Boosted by sophomore Mikaela Whalen and senior Paiton Acord, the Lady Vikings outscored Branson 25-11 in the second quarter and held off the Lady Pirates in the second half.
“Any time you can come in the day after Christmas, against a team that has a really good player, I was really happy that our kids came in and executed their game plan and hit some shots,” Parkview coach Keri Nichols said. “That makes life a whole lot easier.”
Branson junior Priscilla Williams was a one-person wrecking crew, scoring a game-high 37 points. But a mix of balance and experience helped Parkview be in control the majority of the game.
“I think it comes down to the entire team getting the ball to the people who are hot,” Nichols said. “I think we did an awesome job of finding both of them (Whalen and Acord) in the open areas and getting them shots and then rebounding hard and getting second chances.
“I feel it was what everybody did to help them. And, Paiton created a ton off the dribble tonight, which opened up a lot of things for our other shooters to step up into the holes and hit them.”
Whalen scored a team-high 27 points for Parkview, while Acord added 20 points and 7 rebounds and sophomore Kamari Ouck chipped in with 11. Senior Dee Diggs also stepped up with some key buckets and rebounds, collecting 6 points and 6 rebounds.
“Dee’s done a great job in our last two games against other teams’ bigs, and she has an ability to find the ball,” Nichols said. “She might not be the tallest post player out there, or the fastest, but she finds the ball and she puts herself in positive situations a lot of times.”
Branson fought back in the third quarter, cutting Parkview’s lead to eight points (54-46), sparked by Williams’ 13 third-quarter points. And, with 4:21 remaining in the game, the Lady Pirates cut the lead to five (58-53), but Parkview was able to pull away, mostly from the free-throw line.
“Any time you get down, it takes a lot out of kids,” Branson coach Kip Bough said. “(Parkview) played well. They’ve got some outside shooters to go along with the bigs on the inside, and they’ve got the leadership with Acord. She just kind of set the table at the end and said, ‘OK, let’s calm down here and let’s run some clock.’ ”
Branson is inexperienced at the varsity level with just one letterwinner returning, but Bough said he reminded his team of their two goals: Get better each and every day and be a better teammate each and every day.
“I’ve got a phenomenal player (in Williams),” Bough said. “Outside of that, we’re very inexperienced. The rest were playing JV or eighth-grade ball last year.
“We’re really coaching and trying to get these kids not just for the end of the year, but also next year trying to develop them – trying to build for the long term and the process of being better every day.”
Parkview faces top-seeded Strafford, a 69-34 winner over Lebanon, in a quarterfinal game at 12:30 p.m. Thursday at O’Reilly Family Event Center. Branson will take on Lebanon at 12:30 p.m. at Weiser Gym.
PINK & WHITE INVITATIONAL
(8) PARKVIEW 68, BRANSON 55
BRANSON (3-5) – Chloe Grimm 6, Priscilla Williams 37, Maddie Pardeck 8, Sidney Davis 4.
PARKVIEW (3-4) – Kamari Ouck 11, Mikaela Whalen 27, Neveah Mitchell 1, Paiton Acord 20, Dee Diggs 6, Essence Stiles 1, Kristen Klein 2.