Second-year Labette County Grizzlies head coach Bradley Argabright smiled when he was asked about his next opponent, Parsons, after beating Chanute on Thursday night.
On Friday night, we figured out why Argabright grinned ear to ear as the Grizzlies beat the Parsons Vikings 67-54, snapping a six-game losing streak to their rivals.
“We ready for the challenge and we were ready from the jump tonight,” Argabright said. “There’s no doubt about it. These guys have wanted Parsons for a while. We haven’t beaten them in a while. To beat a ranked team, it’s a statement win.”
Eli Hestand was the engine that drove the Grizzlies, scoring a game-high 28 points in a showing that including a 13-of-14 night at the free-throw line.
“Eli battled all night,” Argabright said. “He hit a lot of free throws and our team shot great at the line. We needed all those points because Parsons can score in a hurry. Eli played a tremendous game all night on both ends of the floor. He led us not only in score but as a teammate.”
A staunch outing on defense stamped Labette County’s upset win. The Grizzlies limited the Vikings to four points in the second quarter.
“We talked about jumping to the ball and being help side,” Argabright said. “We really wanted to take away those driving lanes. Our on-ball pressure got them out of their timing. That’s a big deal in the game of basketball and we did a great job of amping up the pressure.”
Parsons head coach Anthony Houk cited familiar concerns after the loss.
“We didn’t box out well enough and had too many turnovers,” Houk said. “That’s been all year. Obviously I’m not finding the right buttons to push in practice. We just have to do it more every day.”
Julius Smith-Reece and Sylas Hickles both led the Vikings with 14 points apiece.
“This loss isn’t the end of the world for us,” Houk said. “There’s still a lot of season left. Hopefully this is a wake-up call. I was proud of our guys and how they prepared for this team. They had Labette County’s sets down. But all of that doesn’t matter if we turn it over so many times.”
Friday’s win was a signature for Argabright and a program that knew the gulf that existed between themselves and its rival in the past two seasons. The last time Labette County beat Parsons was in 2017.
“For me, it meant a lot to see my players have that joy in the locker room,” Argabright said. “We’ve been working hard for two years and it’s great to see it all pay off.”
Parsons dropped to 8-5 overall and 4-3 in SEK League play with its second straight loss. Despite the slump, the Vikings are still within a game of first place in a league that can’t figure itself out. Fort Scott is 5-2 in league play while Pittsburg is 4-2 and Parsons plays both of those teams again, with Pittsburg next on the slate on Tuesday.
“We can’t worry about a league title or a sub-state title right now,” Houk said. “We have to worry about each and every possession. Ultimately we’d still love to do some of those things. But they’re not going to happen if we don’t take care of some details.”
Labette County inserted itself into the league race with the win, improving to 6-8 overall and 4-3 in league action. The Grizzlies face Chanute for the second time in a week on the road on Tuesday.
“We want to be playing our best basketball in February and we’re building towards that,” Argabright said. “I’m really proud of my kids. Nobody in the state, in the area or in the gym except our guys and coaches believed we could do it tonight. That’s all we need.”
Labette County 67, Parsons 54
Parsons: 16 4 14 20 — 54
Labette Co.: 17 11 17 22 — 67
Parsons: Ethan Houk 4, Jessie Jones 8, Cedric Webb 5, Joe Paige 8, Sylas Hickles 14, Justin Smith 1, Julius Smith-Reece 14
Labette County: Griffin Eaton 4, Tray Vinson 9, Eli Gestand 28, Chase Carnahan 5, Kooper Peak 3, Alex Meister 10, Hudson Baker 6, Trent Brock 2