It should come as no surprise to hear that Parkview junior Aubrey Buckley is a standout basketball player.
Anybody familiar with the Parkview program — and southwest Missouri girls basketball, for that matter — could tell you that.
She’s a scorer, she can rebound and she knocks down free throws in the clutch, but what might surprise fans is that she takes the most pride in her defense.
On Thursday, Buckley’s defense inspired her team’s collective defensive effort as Parkview beat visiting Kickapoo, 47-39, in Ozark Conference action.
“I actually like defense most,” Buckley said. “I like to score and get my points, but I’d rather play defense all game if I had to.
“If they’re not scoring, then it gives us a greater chance of winning.”
With the game tied at 20 at the 6:32 mark of the third quarter, Parkview put together a 13-2 run to close out the period for a commanding 11-point lead (33-22).
“I thought our defense really stepped up in the third quarter and that was the difference in the ball game,” Parkview coach Keri Nichols said. “We stopped letting them dribble to the middle as much and we got some big rebounds and big stops and we were able to convert on the other end.”
The Lady Vikings (11-8, 3-1) led by four points (24-20) midway through the third quarter when Buckley began to take control.
Buckley scored the final nine points of Parkview’s decisive third-quarter run with three free throws, a driving basket along the baseline, a field goal from the post and a rebound and putback.
“I thought (Buckley) was a lot more aggressive in the second half offensively, which is what we asked her to be,” Nichols said. “Sometimes she’s a little tentative because she really wants to get her teammates involved.”
But Kickapoo didn’t go away in the fourth quarter. Playing with a sense of urgency, the Lady Chiefs forced eight Parkview turnovers in the final eight minutes and outscored the Lady Vikings 17-14.
“They put more pressure on us in the fourth quarter and sometimes we do lose our minds, but we talked to each other and got our composure back and that’s what wins games,” Buckley said.
Parkview, which averages nearly 20 turnovers a game, finished with 13 total turnovers in the win.
“We have been really turnover-prone all season, so the fact that we had three quarters that were really good, outweighed the fourth quarter bad,” Nichols said. “When I saw we had four turnovers at halftime I was pretty pleased.”
Buckley led Parkview with game-highs of 26 points, eight rebounds and two blocks.
Freshman Laura Vierkant led Kickapoo (11-9, 3-2) with 15 points.