SALINA — A season that started with hopes of claiming a state title burned in the most painful of ways on Thursday as the top-seeded Parsons Vikings were upset by eighth-seeded Rose Hill 61-57 in the first round of the KSHSAA 4A Boys State Tournament.
“Words can’t explain how our team feels right now,” Parsons head coach Anthony Houk said. “I just hate it for our seniors and hate it for our team.”
Parsons, which played the game without the services of senior point guard Dariq Williams, who was ruled out with a knee injury, led Rose Hill 34-22 at halftime.
Zeke Lyons, who finished as the Vikings’ leading scorer with 26 points, scored 20 points in the first half to keep Rose Hill on Parsons’ heels.
But Rose Hill, which shot 37.5% in the first half, connected on half its shots in the second half to erase the deficit.
Koby Campbell led all scorers with 32 points for Rose Hill, while the Rockets as a whole hit 6-of-13 3-pointers in the second half. Campbell also had a double-double with 11 rebounds.
“He’s their main scorer,” Houk said of Campbell. “There were times we did a great job of getting the ball out of his hands. I think that’s a reason that team hovers around .500. Teams get the ball out of his hands, then the other guys are either on or off. Unfortunately for us tonight, they were on.”
In a game that was truly a tale of two halves, the Vikings’ shooting percentage was just 22.2% in the second half as Parsons struggled to finish up close. Center Pierce Thomas had seven points on 2-of-14 shooting while pulling down a game-high 15 rebounds.
“I’m not really disappointed in the shot selection,” Houk said. “Think about how many shots we had right around the rim. It just sucks that those close shots for us didn’t go.”
Thursday marked the second year in a row Parsons was ousted from the state tournament in the first round. Last year, the Vikings lost to eventual state champion Piper.
The loss of Williams, who suffered his knee injury during a sub-state semifinal win over Hayden, was a blow that changed the identity of Parsons’ offensive attack.
“I hate making excuses, but this is just reality,” Houk said. “We missed our point guard. The things that Dariq could do with the ball and how comfortable he was getting us in rhythm, being without him makes it a lot tougher when our backs are against the wall.
“When you play all year with a goal in mind and then to have one of your main pieces ripped away from you right before the last goal, then the whole thing ripped away from you in the first round, there’s no feeling.”
Parsons’ year got cut shorter than many anticipated, but the Vikings nevertheless finished the season as SEK League champions with a 21-2 overall record. The Vikings now gear up for next season with the impending departure of seniors Williams, Lyons, DaQuan Johnson and Thomas, Miles Hogan and Croix Hogan.
“I don’t think anyone has to describe what the legacy will be of this group,” Houk said. “They’re winners ... they’re great young men. This one date shouldn’t define who they are. What they’ve done for our school, our community and our basketball team will be felt for a very long time.”
Late on Thursday night, the KSHSAA announced that the rest of the state tournaments across all classes were canceled due to the ongoing threat of the coronavirus.
KSHSAA 4A BOYS STATE TOURNAMENT
No. 8 Rose Hill 61, No. 1 Parsons 57
Parsons: 13 21 9 14 — 57
Rose Hill: 10 12 18 21 — 61
Parsons: Ethan Houk 7, DaQuan Johnson 9, Zeke Lyons 26, Pierce Thomas 7, Julius Smith-Reece 4, Paxton Swanson 2, Jessie Jones 2
Rose Hill: Spencer Nolan 3, Asa Vrbas 4, Mason Lane 2, Koby Campbell 32, Kellan Simoneau 11, Luke Witt 2, Joshua Hopkins 7