PITTSBURG — Zeke Lyons passed 1,000 career points and an SEK League title is within breathtaking reach as the Parsons Vikings beat the Pittsburg Purple Dragons for the second time this year, 74-64.
The win improved Parsons’ record to 14-1 overall and 7-0 in league action, giving the Vikings a two-game lead on the pack with their toughest test left in the regular season now in the rearview mirror.
“We knew when this season started that the league title came through Pittsburg,” Parsons head coach Anthony Houk said, “and rightfully so. They’ve been the reigning champ. Now we’ve got two wins over them. The worst thing we can do is get big heads and have a letdown. We’ll enjoy this win this weekend, but we’ve got to be ready for Coffeyville on Tuesday.”
Friday night’s victory also came alongside Lyons, who led the Vikings with 21 points, surpassing the 1,000-point milestone for his career. Lyons began his career at Southern Coffey County as a freshman before transferring to Parsons as a sophomore.
The bucket that gave Lyons his 1,000th point came on a 3-pointer from the left wing in the first quarter.
“I’m just thankful for my teammates and coaches at both places,” Lyons said. “They always push me to be a better player. So I just appreciate them.”
“I’m really happy for him,” Houk added. “A thousand points means you’ve spent a lot of extra time in the gym. I hope young kids realize that. A thousand points doesn’t just happen. You’ve got to work your tail off.”
Parsons raced out of the gate on Pittsburg’s homecoming night as the Vikings built a 24-6 lead in the first half.
But the Purple Dragons held Parsons to seven points in the second quarter and ended the half on a 23-9 run to leave the Vikings clinging to a 33-29 advantage.
In the locker room, memories of the last time Parsons had a single-digit quarter — in its only loss of the season to Liberty North (Mo.) when it was held to five points in the third period — were conjured.
“We talked at halftime about the midseason tournament and the Liberty North game,” Houk said. “We talked about shot selection. I loved our seniors’ mindset. Even though we gave up that big lead, they had a great mindset and knew we were OK. They never got rattled.”
The Vikings kept the Purple Dragons at arm’s length the rest of the way to end the night with a double-digit win.
For Pittsburg, which was led in scoring by Javon Grant who had a game-high 31 points, its record dropped to 9-6 overall and 5-2 in league play.
DaQuan Johnson, Julius Smith-Reece and Dariq Williams also reached double-figure scoring for the Vikings with 16, 15 and 14 points respectively.
“All the hard work we put in preparing for every game is significant,” Lyons said. “We grind every day to put forth our best effort. Winning the league was a goal we set at the beginning of the year. I’m happy that it’s falling into place.”
Parsons now gets to return home on Tuesday to face Coffeyville. With five games left in the regular season and a two-game lead on the pack, wins in their next three games will guarantee the Vikings a league championship.
“Our approach is that we want to get just a little bit better,” Houk said. “I know our guys. They will not have the mindset that they can let up a little. We’ll get better each and every night. Our goal from Day 1 was to win this league title. That’s what we’re going to go do.”
IN THE JV GAME...Parsons beat Pittsburg 79-64. Jessie Jones led the Vikings with 17 points while Paxton Swanson led with 15 points. Parsons also beat Pittsburg in the freshman game 59-43. Joe Paige led Parsons with 18 points.
Parsons 74, Pittsburg 64
Parsons: 26 7 20 21 — 74
Pittsburg: 14 15 19 16 — 64
Parsons: Dariq Williams 14, DaQuan Johnson 16, Zeke Lyons 21, Pierce Thomas 8, Julius Smith-Reece 15
Pittsburg: Elijah Thornton 6, LJ Butcher 2, Javon Grant 31, Gavyn Elkamil 18, Andrew Nargess 2, Harden McCoy 5