PARSONS — Jessie Jones promised head coach Anthony Houk that a big performance was in store Friday night — and he delivered.
Jones poured in a game-high 25 points as the Parsons Vikings upended the visiting Chanute Blue Comets, 54-51.
Jones detonated for 14 in the opening frame, drilling four triples.
The Blue Comets did all they could to keep it close, with Parker Henson's trey trimming the deficit to 15-9. Jones followed with a Steph Curry NBA-range 3, as the Vikings ultimately built an 11-point opening frame advantage.
The Blue Comets were able to slow the tempo in the second. Kaiden Seamster's back-to-back knifing layups capped a 7-1 run, cutting the Vikes' lead to 23-18. Jones stemmed the tide, drilling his fifth 3 of the half to put the Vikings up 8.
Brax Peter's bucket to close out the first half nearly erased the deficit, with the Blue Comets trailing 26-25.
A 6-0 spur near the midpoint of the third, highlighted by Eliot Stephens' coast-to-coast lay-in handed the Blue Comets their first lead of the night at 33-32.
Leading by five with 5:50 remaining in regulation, the Blue Comets seemed to be firmly in control. The post-play of JaMarion Washington was key for the Vikings down the stretch, as hard-fought buckets in the paint on consecutive possessions cut the Blue Comet lead to a point.
J.J. Kendrick's 3-ball with three minutes remaining put the Vikings on top 47-46. Stephenson answered with a catch-and-shoot 3 at the top of the key for a 49-47 Blue Comet advantage.
A Jones driving layup followed by Landon's Wheat triple from the left corner suddenly had the Vikings on top in the blink of an eye, 52-49.
A frenzied final minute of regulation featuring a Parsons turnover in the halfcourt as well as missed free throws left the door ajar for a Chanute comeback.
A Lars Koester layup with 8.5 ticks on the clock whittled the deficit to 52-51. Looking to extend the lead, Washington saved after corralling his teammate's misfire on the front-end of a 1-and-1 and going back up for the score.
Without any timeouts remaining, Koester took an inbound pass and raced up court, but was off-target on the buzzer-beating 3-point attempt, as the ball caromed off the back rim.
Parsons head coach Anthony Hauk said that his squad's sub-par free throw shooting in the fourth was uncharacteristic, as the Vikings knocked down just 1-of-5 attempts.
“Free throw shooting has been one of our strengths down the stretch,” Houk said. “We’ve been getting to the line a lot and making a good chunk of them.”
On Washington’s high-octane rebound near the end regulation, Houk said he told his bigs to be aggressive on the boxout, even if it resulted in a foul.
“We only had five team fouls, so if we go over-the-back, it’s still just their ball out of bounds,” and needing to go the length of the court, Houk said “Because JaMarion was aggressive, he was able to get the rebound and put-back.”
With Jones lighting up the night sky, Houk said he was somewhat surprised that the Blue Comets stuck with their 2-3 zone as long as they did.
“I really was surprised,” he said.
Houk said that Jones was exuding confidence prior to tip off.
“Jessie is our lone senior, and he said ‘I’m pulling an early one,’” Houk recounted. “That first one went down and gave him the confidence to keep firing away.”
Houk said that the reliance on 3-point attempts prevented his squad from getting into the paint as much as he would have liked.
“It can give you some false confidence and then you start missing a bunch of them,” he said.
Houk was elated with his squad’s defensive effort.
“We played great defense the entire night,” he said.
After opening the season with five consecutive losses, Houk said that his club has come a long way, adding that the parents were not overly critical during the losing skid.
“They let us stick with it and we got some little things turned around,” he said. “I just love the way we’ve finished the season off. To make that type of turnaround with only one senior, says a lot about our sophomores and juniors.”
The No. 8 seed Vikings (11-9) host No. 9 Topeka-Hayden in the opening round of Class 4A East Sub-state. Wednesday evening’s tip-off time has yet to be announced.
Chanue head coach Devon Crabtree said that the Blue Comets failed to capitalize on golden opportunities down the stretch.
“We had multiple chances to keep or extend our lead late,” he said. “We just couldn’t quite make the play to get it done. Parsons did a good job of playing their game and playing their way.”
Crabtree pointed to the early-going when the Blue Comets trailed by double-digits.
“I’m proud of our guys’ effort, especially after that first quarter to battle back and have a chance to win,” he said. “We just couldn’t quite get over that hump tonight.”
Crabtree conceded that he erred by not adjusting his defensive strategy, with Jones raining the 3-balls throughout the opening frame.
“I made the mistake of starting us in zone,” he said of the 2-3 zone defense. “I should have known better, with Jessie on senior night, and his scoring mentality.”
Crabtree continued to shoulder the blame.
“Looking back, I wish we would have gone to man a little quicker. We had some success with it the last time we played them,” he said. “That’s what it came down to.”
Stephenson drew the defensive assignment of guarding Jones.
“I told ‘don’t let him catch,’ and if does — do your best to stop him somehow,” Crabtree said.
Stephenson, however, starred on the offensive end for the Blue Comets, dropping in a team-high 15 points.
“He did a good job on the offensive end too,” Crabtree said.
Crabtree said he’s had a blast coaching this team.
“It’s been such a fun year. These guys have won a lot of games and in a bunch of different ways,” he said. “Just a fun group to coach and I’m really proud to get the opportunity to coach these guys.”
The No. 5 seed Blue Comets (14-6) host No. 12 Labette County Grizzlies in the opening round of sub-state, Tuesday evening.
Parsons 54, Chanute 51
Parsons: 20 6 11 17 — 54
Chanute: 11 14 16 10 — 51
Parsons: Jahmarion Washington 12, J.J. Kendrick 5, Tra Mack 2, Jessie Jones 25, Landon Wheat 7, Tra Tullis 3
Chanute: Koester 11, Seamster 9, Manly 2, Henson 10, Peter 4, Stephenson 15
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