In a game where momentum swung three distinctive times, the underdog took it when it mattered most and came away with the win.
Seventh-seeded Parker hung on and knocked off No. 2 Langford Area, 48-39, to advance to the semifinals of the Class B State Boys Basketball Tournament.
Momentum was clearly on the side of the Pheasants for most of the first half. They opened with the game’s first nine points, and held the Lions to just eight-total, not allowing a field goal until the 1:50 mark of the first quarter when Chance Olson drained a 3-pointer. Parker would answer right back with a three of its own from Kelby Peters boosting the lead back to nine, 12-3 with 53 seconds on the clock.
“We just got out to a really good start,” said Pheasants head coach Dave Fuller. “Our guys stepped up throughout most of the first half. When (Langford) would get a shot, we would answer with one of our own. Toward the end of the half, we turned it over a bit, and kind of allowed (Langford) to get back in it.”
The Lions, who at one stretch were 5-for-19 from the floor, scored the final five points to make it a three-point deficit, 23-20 at the half.
Parker pushed the lead to seven, 30-23, at the 3:16 mark of the third on a pair of free throws by Peters. Langford would respond, scoring the final six points of that quarter and pulled into a tie, 32-all with the final 8 minutes looming.
“I’m going to put a little of that (Langford run) on myself,” Fuller said. “We got up six or seven in the third, and knowing how momentum can change, slowed things down a bit and starting running (sets) we didn’t run enough to really be good at. (Langford) is a two-loss team, and if you give them an opening, they can take advantage which they did. When we slowed it down, (Langford) got some turnovers and break-outs they didn’t get in the first half, then (Mason) Larson hits two free throws and we’re down three.”
Despite the 11-2 run that seemingly switched momentum to the second-seeded Lions, they could not take advantage of it. Langford missed its next five shots. Parker turned that into a 10-0 run over the next 4:32 to grab the lead for good, 44-37 with 2:16 left on the clock. Shane Kasten capping off the run with a 3-pointer, one of six Parker would hit on the night.
“We just weren’t ready from the start (last night),” said Lions head coach Paul Raasch. “It took us a while to get going. We were able to finally make shots in the third and took that lead but then we kind of fell apart in the fourth. We did a lot of things to ourselves, that we normally don’t do. I don’t know why. If i knew, we probably would have won the game.”
Langford would wind up making just 15-of-47 shot attempts for 31-percent shooting. Olson, who had been suffering from the flu the past few days, and at one point, came out of the game before halftime because he felt so ill, made 4-8 shots for 10 points. Mason Larson, who had averaged 18 points per game, went 5-for-19 for 13 points.
“These games, in the state tournament, these things happen fast, sometimes so fast you can’t adjust to it and suddenly the game is out of reach,” Raasch said. “We had all kinds of momentum in the fourth, then boom, we start missing shots again, (Parker) makes a couple, and we just didn’t have guys make shots. Credit to Coach Fuller and his team, they’re good and we knew that coming in (last night). They matched up well against us. They switched defenses on us. That affected Mason’s shots. I just thought we needed more (balanced) scoring, and we just didn’t have it.”
The Pheasants were able to spread the offense, with Peters and Connor Carlson scoring 14 and 12 points, respectively. In addition, Kasten and Camden Bialas went for eight points apiece, as the Pheasants went 17-for-36 from the floor for 47-percent shooting.
“In the past, during (games) like this, our team sometimes folded,” Fuller said. “Not with this group we had (this year). Our seniors (Kasten and Peters) knew they would have to step up and makes plays, and they did. I’m just really proud of our seniors, of how they were able to battle back against a good team. Conner Carlson, he made some key plays for us down the stretch, he had nine rebounds and really fought hard against (Langford’s) bigs.”
Langford will now face Harding County in the consolation semifinal today 1:45 p.m.
“We didn’t really want to be playing for fifth place, honestly,” Raasch said. “But we’re gonna see what kind of character we have, including from the coaching (aspect) too. It’s not easy to regroup in tournaments but we’re going have to get back on track (Friday).”
As for the Pheasants, they’ll face Wolsey-Wessington with a trip to the finals on the line.
“Two years ago here (at State B), an No. 8 seed beat a No. 1 seed, and that’s the approach we took (Thursday night),” Fuller said. “Hopefully we come out (Friday) the same way did (Thursday) and we move on to the final.”
BRIDGEWAGER/EMERY 67, PLATTE-GEDDES 39 – Three players were in double figures for the Huskies as they coasted to a 67-39 win. Sawyer Schultz led the way with 15 points along with five rebounds and four steals. Sam Arend added 14 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Carter Dye chimed in with 10 points and three rebounds. Malachi Girton led the Black Panthers with 12 points while Cooper Kanthak dished out seven assists.
SULLY BUTTES 65, WHITE RIVER 52 – The Chargers had four players score in double digits with Clay Feller leading the way with 16 points in just under 16 minutes of game time. Feller also hauled in seven rebounds. Jacob Howard had a double double of 15 points and 11 rebounds. Lincoln Jordre scored 14 points, grabbed six boards and had five blocks. Devan Kleven added 12 points. For the Tigers, Justice Morrison had a game high of 17 points along with four rebounds. Jadice Morrison scored 13 points and Donnie Yackley added 11 points along with six assists.
WOLSEY-WESSINGTON 56, HARDING COUNTY 35 – Darian Ogunjemilusi scored 16 points and added seven rebounds as W-W rolled past Harding County. Riley Gohn and Bennett White added 10 points apiece. For HC, Jarret Jenson scored 16 points and Chase Stugelmeyer had eight.