Kids in playgrounds all across America only get to dream about the chance that Parkview senior guard Erik Durham had Tuesday night.
Two free throws, less than a second on the clock, trailing an opponent by a point.
When Durham found himself in that spot — on the line, 0.9 seconds on the clock, trailing Ozark 50-49 — he did the unthinkable. He relaxed.
“Everybody thinks about having that moment and I’ve had that moment in my head before,” said Durham, after he sank the pair for a 51-50 Parkview victory. “It was pretty loud in here. But my teammates, A.J. (Green), just helped me stay calm and relaxed.
“We all wanted this game badly.”
Durham’s second free throw was only the second time all night that the Vikings had led and helped Parkview (6-0) stay perfect on the season.
“As a senior, in his own gym, to make two free throws with 0.9 seconds left is just spectacular,” Parkview coach Bill Brown said. “I tried to explain to him that ‘you’re our man’ and we are going to rely on him to get points and get tips and get steals and that’s where he affected the game as much anything.”
In fact, Durham had the chance at the line after he corralled a loose ball on the baseline and leaned in an attempt with time running out. It was all part of a fortuitous turn of events that turned the game in Parkview’s favor, a game Ozark controlled most of the night.
The Tigers’ led 50-46, but missed the back end of a free-throw trip and Durham drained his only 3-pointer of the night with 15.9 seconds left on the clock to cut the deficit to one.
Ozark (4-4) again had another chance to force the issue from the free-throw line, but missed a pair to set up Durham’s heroics.
“If we make free throws down here, the ball game is over and they never get that opportunity,” Ozark coach Steve Hunter said. “We played well and we played hard.
“If we make those free throws, we foul and they never even get a chance to make a three.”
The Tigers had played well enough early in the second half to build a 42-32 advantage after leading by a single point at halftime. Parkview was flustered by the inside play of Ozark post Brett Krisik, who scored six of his 17 points during a 7-0 run.
But the Vikings, like they did all night, wouldn’t go away. They responded with a 9-0 run of their own, with five points coming from Nathan Reichart, to whittle the lead down to 42-41 with 7:14 left in the game.
Durham led all scorers with 24 points despite an off-shooting night for the star. He missed on all six 3-point attempts in the first half, but Green responded with 13 points to keep the Vikings close.
“At that point, I saw that Erik wasn’t in any type of rhythm and nobody else on the team was,” said Green, who finished with 15. “So I tried to get into one and keep it from being too big a margin for us to try and come back from.”
And if Durham was unsure in his glory moment, Green certainly wasn’t.
“I had 110 percent belief he was going to make those,” Green said. “We’ve played together since we were little and I never doubted him for a second.”
Jakob Neidig added 14 points and Korbin Evans scored 10 for Ozark, which won’t play again until the first round of the Greenwood Blue and Gold Tournament on Dec. 26. Parkview plays at Carthage on Thursday.