By Chris Parker
Parkview boys basketball made one of the biggest statements of early season tournament week with a 61-59 win over rival Kickapoo in the Arvest Classic Championship game.
It is the first win for Parkview over Kickapoo since Jan. 26, 2012 spanning 12 games across almost 10 years according to MSHSAA.
“We were really close last year. It is just one of those deals where you have to get over that hump. In the locker room we felt like this was our time. That is what we said; this is our time. We deserve it. We are here for it. Just be us. That is good enough right now. We knew we had the ability to do it. They believed. Guys stepped up in different roles and did what we needed to do,” Parkview head coach Landon Cornish said.
Parkview controlled the game from the outset. Kickapoo led 4-2 and then the Vikings took control leading 18-17 after the first quarter and 35-28 at the half.
The Vikings continued to hold Kickapoo at arm’s length until the 1:58 mark of the third quarter when the Chiefs took a 45-44 lead, which was their first since they led 4-2.
Parkview had an answer.
Tournament Most Valuable Player Elijah Whitley came down and hit a three-pointer to give Parkview the lead back at 47-44.
“Our biggest thing is when you face (adversity) be calm and come back and make the next play. That is a four-year process with Elijah. We had that conversation today. Last night, he struggled in the first quarter. Just eye-to-eye and man-to-man (I said) just stay with it.”
TJ Hill followed that up with a tough finish in traffic to give Parkview a cushion.
“We didn’t crumble when we lost the lead. A lot of times in the past we would’ve let that get to us and we didn’t,” Cornish said. “We stayed composed. Trusted what we were doing and hit big shots and guys stepped up and made plays.”
The defending Class 6 state champion Chiefs would not go away.
Kickapoo continued to hang around seizing a 56-54 lead late in the fourth quarter.
Parkview again had an answer.
This time it was Shane Glass Jr. with a put back and a foul. He hit the free throw to give Parkview a 57-56 lead. The Vikings would never trail again. Kickapoo’s desperation shot at the buzzer missed and set off a celebration for the Vikings.
“I am just proud of our kids and all of the resilience that we showed through all of the adversity,” Cornish said. “We go through a lot of tough things and we tell them you have to pick yourself up and come back every day. That is (doing it) years over and over. They just have to keep believing in that and plugging away at that, and they did and it paid off.”
For Whitley, whose birthday was on Saturday, the win was the perfect gift.
“It feels amazing. We finally did it. We finally pulled it out and took the ‘ship home,” Whitley said. “(I) wanted to take a (win) for my birthday. The best gift.”
Whitley led the scoring for Parkview with 18 points. Hill (12), Glass Jr. (11) and Xzavia McArthur (10) all scored in double figures for Parkview
Kickapoo was led by Andrew Robinson’s game-high 22 points. Trae Oetting scored 11 points, and Brayden Shorter scored 10 points for Kickapoo.
This starts what Parkview hopes is a long and successful season.
“It is very early and you can’t get too high with the highs and too low with the lows. We are just trying to be 1-0 every day. We are going to celebrate this one and enjoy this one today, but this shouldn’t be the highlight of the season. There are a lot of games left. We have to regroup, get back to work on Monday and get ready for a really good Nixa team on Tuesday,” Cornish said.
While it is early in the season, Parkview has put the area on notice.
“They can’t underestimate us and look over us,” Whitley said.