CHANUTE — Never will the Parsons Vikings boys senior class know a life that doesn’t include a trip to the state tournament.
In Friday night’s Class 4A Sub-State championship, the Vikings beat the Chanute Blue Comets 62-54 to punch its fourth straight ticket to the state tournament.
“It’s beyond words how blessed I feel,” Parsons head coach Anthony Houk said. “Our whole team feels that way, especially our seniors. That’s all they know, is a trip to state. We’re so excited for our program and our community. We know how much they backed us even though they weren’t able to fill the gym up. They loved watching us online and I know how much support we had.”
For Chanute, which was riding a six-game winning streak coming into Friday, it missed out on a second trip to state over the last three years.
“We’re proud of these guys,” Chanute head Devon Crabtree said. “We gave ourselves a chance to win a sub-state championship. The guys played their tails off.”
Julius Smith-Reece and Jessie Jones both led the Vikings with 17 points. Smith-Reece, a senior forward, connected on seven field goals.
“He’s determined and that dude is hungry,” Anthony Houk said. “He’s a great kid. We saw great things from all of our seniors tonight.”
As for Jones, he connected on three 3-pointers.
“He’s a difference maker for us,” Anthony Houk said. “I would’ve loved to play some of the losses we had healthy with him. Jessie has grown up so much this year. To come off the injury and playing as well as he is, I’m seeing great things.”
Junior Kam Koester led the Blue Comets with 16 points.
“He’s always leading our team,” Crabtree said. “He did a good job tonight of getting to the rim and making some plays for us when we needed him.”
Chanute trailed Parsons by seven at halftime and opened the third quarter with a 6-0 run. However, the Blue Comets never knocked down the last brick to tie the game.
“We just couldn’t get that one more stop we needed,” Crabtree said. “That was the end of it. We just couldn’t quite get over the hump.”
Anthony Houk cited his team’s efficiency on offense for its ability to preserve the lead.
“Our shot selection was pretty good,” Anthony Houk said. “That helped us keep the lead whether it was seven or one.”
Chanute’s season ends with an 11-7 overall record. With a young roster — the Blue Comets lose two seniors in Aaron Robertson and Keondre Gregory — Chanute is expected to be among the contenders in the SEK League next winter.
“We’re excited,” Crabtree said. “We’ve got some kids that love the game and love being in the gym. I love having them and we’re ready for the future.”
As for Parsons, a fourth straight trip to state cements a legacy for a class that was always anxious to leave its own mark on the program.
“Coming into the game, my nerves were everywhere,” Parsons senior guard Ethan Houk said. “We had the chance to go to state for the fourth year in a row. But it could’ve been my last basketball game ever. I just played the hardest I could, and the whole team did. That was our goal coming in.”
The Vikings will face Louisburg on Monday at 6 p.m. in the KSHSAA 4A State Tournament quarterfinals at Louisburg.
“We know we have to stay healthy,” Anthony Houk said. “The teams that win down the stretch are healthy. And they let their strengths overpower the other team’s strengths. I know Louisburg has a defense that gets after it fullcourt. And they’ve got a 6-foot-8 guy at the rim. Our guard play will have to be great. We’ve got shooters and speed. Our strengths have to matchup.”
CLASS 4A SUB-STATE
Parsons 62, Chanute 54
Parsons: 21 15 11 15 — 62
Chanute: 11 18 14 11 — 54
Parsons: Ethan Houk 10, Jessie Jones 17, Cedric Webb 4, Paxton Swanson 2, Sylas Huckles 12, Julius Smith-Reece 14
Chanute: Eric Erbe 5, Larsen Koester 12, Kaidan Frederick 5, Kaiden Seamster 1, Kam Koester 16, Aaron Robertson 7, Carter Coombs 8