ALTAMONT — The Parsons Vikings got back on track Tuesday night in the SEK League opener, ousting archival Labette County 53-37 in Altamont to snap a two-game losing streak. It was the sixth straight time the Vikings have beat the Grizzlies.
However, Parsons head coach Anthony Houk praised the Vikings’ rivals after the game for evident improvement under Bradley Argabright, who’s in his second season as head coach of the Grizzlies.
“Hats off to Coach Argabright and what he’s doing with that program. That’s a good team and they play hard,” Houk said. “Where they are now from where they were a couple years ago, they’re much improved. That’s one reason why I’m so happy tonight.”
Sophomore point guard Jessie Jones led Parsons with 16 points.
“I saw better decision making and he was trying to make plays,” Houk said. “He’d been hesitant to use the dribble to attack. But I’m really liking what I’m seeing out of him. He shot it well tonight, got the rim and did a great job on defense.”
Labette County guard Eli Hestand, one of the most prolific scorers in the league, led the Grizzlies with 24 points.
“He forced it a little tonight,” Argabright said. “But he’s the guy that’s got to go that that many shots a game. He’s our best scorer. They ran a lot of guys at him tonight and he still found a way to score and take good shots.”
Argabright felt Labette County’s offense struggled to convert close looks throughout the game.
“We didn’t finish very well around the rim tonight,” Argabright said. “Defensively, we played well enough to be in the game. We held a talented Parsons team to 53 points. But we’ve got to finish on the offensive end and that’s what was disappointing tonight.”
Ethan Houk and Julius Smith-Reece also reached double-figure scoring with 14 and 12 points respectively.
Sylas Hickles’ defensive effort drew the praise of the Vikings’ head coach.
“He’s really grown and he wanted that matchup against Hestand tonight,” Houk said. “He used his length against him. I love what Sylas did to Hestand early.”
Labette County is now 1-4 on the season and 0-1 in SEK League play.
“We just have to finish more consistently,” Argabright said. “Our four losses have all been against ranked teams. We’ve played a gauntlet and we’ve been in every game. We’re competitive, but at some point we’ve got to get over the hump and finish a game.”
The Grizzlies will face Chanute at home to wrap up its pre-winter break slate.
“Whenever we play Chanute, they’ve got great shooters,” Argabright said. “So we’re going to continue to staple ourselves on defense. Hopefully that leads to easy buckets because that’s what we need. It’s our last game before break, so I’m expecting a hard-fought game.”
The win for Parsons improved the Vikings’ record to 3-2 and 1-0 in league action.
“It was so important to get back in the win column,” Houk said. “We played well against Mulvane but then we were gassed on Saturday against Collegiate. So this was important tonight. We had a great practice on Monday and it was nice to see the turnaround here. It’s also nice to be 1-0 in league.”
Parsons pauses boys basketball, wrestling season due to COVID-19
Parsons High School administration decided to proactively pause the boys basketball and wrestling seasons until after the winter break moratorium on Wednesday due to COVID-19. According to Parsons principal Eric Swanson, who also serves as an assistant coach on the boys basketball team, quarantines in the school are disproportionately affecting boys in the school and there are positive cases on the wrestling team.
“We’ve had some positives in our school. Over 75% of our quarantines are boys. At this point in time, both boys programs, wrestling and boys basketball, will resume after Christmas on Jan. 4 for practices.”
The school’s weight room was also shut down for the rest of the week.
Parsons administration informed Labette County administration that no known or presumptive positives played in Tuesday’s game and it’s not expected that any quarantines will result from the contest.
The Parsons boys basketball team had games scheduled at Pittsburg on Friday then against Joplin in Webb City on Saturday. Parsons will reschedule its league game against Pittsburg and is open to facing Joplin at a rescheduled date as well.
Parsons girls basketball games at Pittsburg on Friday then at home against Mulvane on Saturday are still on as scheduled. The girls basketball team missed four games due to a team-wide quarantine and Friday’s game at Pittsburg will be its first game back.
Parsons 53, Labette County 37
Parsons: 17 10 11 15 — 53
Labette County: 12 3 14 8 — 37
Parsons: Ethan Houk 14, Jessie Jones 16, Paxton Swanson 7, Sylas Huckles 4, Julius Smith-Reece 12
Labette County: Griffin Eaton 2, Tray Vinson 6, Eli Hestand 24, Chase Carnahan 2, Alex Meister 2, Trent Brock 1