By Kai Raymer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Parkview’s 6-foot-9 senior center, Latre Morrison, prefers blocked shots rather than dunks.
Fortunately, for the Vikings, Morrison didn’t have to choose one or the other on Friday night. He was active on both ends as Parkview pulled out a 57-48 win over West Plains in the semifinals of the Blue and Gold Tournament.
Morrison finished with 13 points, six blocks (unofficially) and a few highlight dunks in the Vikings’ win over their Ozark Conference foe. Teammate Dontae Taylor scored a game-high 15.
“I just (block shots) off instinct. I see it and want to go get it,” Morrison said. “Sometimes, it gets me in trouble. Other times, it works out.”
Parkview faces Rogersville in the Blue Division title game at 7 p.m. Saturday at JQH Arena.
“When you can make it to the championship game of the Blue and Gold, that’s awesome. To win three games in this environment, where it’s so competitive… Right now, I’m just so proud of my kids,” said Parkview coach Landon Cornish. “We’ve had great focus and great effort for three straight days. Things have gone wrong, but we’ve just battled back, not ducked our heads and not quit.”
Parkview has won six Blue and Gold championships in program history, but none since 1974. A victory on Saturday night would push the Vikings to No. 6 (tied with Hillcrest and Branson) on the all-time Blue and Gold Tournament championship list.
“Not many of our Parkview peeps have ever made it to the finals in the first place, let alone win (the Blue and Gold),” Morrison said. “I feel like this year we have a really good chance to win it as long as we play hard and stick together as a team.”
Leading up to Friday’s win, Parkview had gutted out wins over Clever (54-35; two-point game at halftime) and Strafford (53-51 on a game-winning shot by Taylor in the final seconds).
“To win these tight games is really building their confidence,” Cornish said. “We’re sticking together and continuing to keep it rolling.”
Parkview shot only 20-for-48 from the field (unofficially) against West Plains, but controlled the game with relentless pressure defense that occasionally led to foul trouble.
The Zizzers shot 24 percent from the field (11-for-45 overall. They did most of their scoring from the free throw line (23-for-32).
Parkview (9-3 overall) broke the game open early in the fourth quarter with back-to-back 3-pointers from Anthony Green and Nakai Johnson. That sequence pushed Parkview’s lead from four to 10 (47-37).
“As long as we guard and our effort is there, we’re going to give ourselves a chance to win,” Cornish said. “I really do feel like shots are eventually going to go. You saw it there late where we hit back-to-back 3s. I know we have capable shooters.”
West Plains got within 49-44 with 4:30 remaining after Allen Marcak’s 3-pointer. He finished with nine points. Teammate Clay Butler scored 10 to lead the Zizzers.
But West Plains only mustered four points the rest of the way. Morrison swatted two potential West Plains layups late in the game.
“I feel like I played pretty good, but I still feel like I can work on some stuff,” Morrison said. “There were times I jumped when I shouldn’t have, but then other times I did it right. I was just hyped. I felt the energy tonight – maybe too much.”
West Plains (8-3 overall) plays Willard in the 3rd place game at 4 p.m. Saturday at JQH Arena.
Parkview 57, West Plains 48
West Plains 11 13 12 12 — 48
Parkview 18 11 12 16 — 57
West Plains – Clay Butler 10, Allen Marcak 9, Garrett Warren 8, Jake Swope 7, Connor Rackley 6, Taylor Harrison 4, Daegan Green 4
Parkview – Dontae Taylor 15, Latre Morrison 13, Nakai Johnson 7, Jevin Huddleston 6, Jon Franklin 6, Anthony Green 5, Trevon Brazile 2, JaVeo Tolliver 2