By Denise Tucker (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
For the Hillcrest and Parkview boys’ basketball coaches, Friday night’s game was an Ozark Conference matchup against a city rival.
For Tyem Freeman, there were a few more emotions tied to this one.
The 6-foot-6 junior guard/forward led all scorers with 22 points – 17 in the second half – to lead the Vikings to a 58-46 OC victory at home against his former team.
“The plan was to come in and treat it like another game, but when you come in here versus your old team, you have a lot of emotions,” said Freeman, who played his first two years for Hillcrest before transferring to Parkview for the 2017-2018 school year. “Honestly, I came into the game and I was crying on the bench. But no matter what, it was a hard-fought game and we came out with a W.”
Freeman got things started with a 3-pointer at the top of the key and the Vikings, who improved to 11-8 overall and 3-0 in the OC, raced to a 10-0 lead before Hillcrest got its first point on a Brenden Weaver free throw at the 2:43 mark of the first quarter.
Damarcus Mason and Freeman scored five points apiece and Daru Elliott closed out the quarter on a putback to give Parkview a 14-5 lead.
Hillcrest got going on defense, and on offense as well, with Tim Washington scoring seven of the Hornets’ 13 points in the second quarter as Hillcrest outscored Parkview 13-9 in the quarter to pull within 23-18 at the half.
“That was more them defensively and us being a little bit passive and settling instead of being aggressive the way we were in the first quarter,” Parkview coach Landon Cornish said. “We settled for some more jump shots and kind of backed up instead of keeping our foot down and really going hard.
“It’s something we work on, but we need to do a better job of staying aggressive and attacking.”
Hillcrest (9-10, 0-3) also held Freeman scoreless in the second quarter.
“They were working hard,” Freeman said. “They were trying to deny me a lot, but I just played my game and found open space. It allowed my team to get open and I made the open passes for my team to get buckets.”
A 7-0 run extended Parkview’s lead to 14 points (21-7) in the second before Hillcrest went on a 6-0 run of its own to pull within 21-13. Damarcus Mason’s bucket in the lane pushed Parkview’s lead back to 10, but five straight points from Washington pulled the Hornets within five (23-18) heading into the locker room.
“When you play defensively together as a team, it’s hard to stop some of that good one-on-one,” Hillcrest coach Joel Brown said. “Luckily, we were getting (Freeman) to kick it out and they were missing shots in the first half, which made it look a lot better.”
Freeman and the Vikings started the second half just like they started the game – on a 3-pointer from the top of the key by Freeman. And Freeman’s 6-0 run pushed Parkview’s lead back to 14 (34-20) early in the third quarter.
Cornish said the difference in the second half wasn’t that the Vikings were trying to force the ball to Freeman, it was other players making plays they know they can make.
“And, when they make those plays, everything else just kind of opens up,” Cornish said. “I think all of our guys stepped up and did a much better job of that.”
The third quarter is where the game was decided, Brown said.
“They (Vikings) came out from halftime, and that was the biggest separation of the game right there,” Brown said. “I think toughness is a big thing and that was a big factor. We just couldn’t get defensive rebounds; they kept getting offensive rebounds and putbacks. We just got out-toughed tonight.”
And, neither Cornish nor Brown said they played up the emotions tied with Freeman’s connection to both teams.
“We didn’t talk about that at all (prior to the game),” Cornish said. “This is an Ozark Conference game against an in-city rival. Anytime you play a city school in an Ozark Conference game, it’s going to be competitive, it’s going to be heated and we just focused on what we needed to do.”
Brown echoed Cornish’s thoughts.
“We had a meeting at the beginning of the year and we just decided that we were closing chapters on something and turning the page,” Brown said. “I didn’t make it a big deal of anything because it was just as big this year playing Parkview as it was for us last year. Anytime you play against a city team, you want to beat ‘em.”
But, it still meant something to Freeman.
“Coming in versus my old team, it was an emotional game,” Freeman said. “But, in the second half, I came out and treated it like another game. A pre-half talk from my coach, coming in after halftime… I credit him. He told me to keep my head up and just play my game.”
PARKVIEW 58, HILLCREST 46
Ozark Conference game
HILLCREST (9-10, 0-3) – Josh Powell 6, Cole Pryor 6, Tim Washington 18, Brenden Weaver 13, Malik Starks 1, Brandon Menifee 2.
PARKVIEW (11-8, 3-1) – Daru Elliott 13, Dontae Taylor 6, Damarcus Mason 7, Tyem Freeman 22, Latre Morrison 10.
Hillcrest B 70, Parkview B 69