The Moose got loose.
After Joplin’s best post player went out with foul trouble early, the directive from Parkview High School basketball coach Bill Brown on Tuesday was clear.
And since senior center Nathan Reichert is already known as “Moose” for the way he keeps his mouth open in the post, it only seemed right to get him fed.
Reichert set the tone early for the host Vikings, and then Erik Durham took advantage to pull away from Joplin late in a 66-35 Ozark Conference victory.
“We’re passing the ball inside more, and it’s taking the pressure off Erik and getting more open looks,” Reichert said. “We have been looking for different ways to get the ball down low and get the ball moved around more.”
Adam St. Peter, who is signing next week to play football at Missouri State, picked up two fouls in the first three minutes, opening the lane for Reichert.
With the post nearly clear and man-to-man defense playing on his back, Reichert put on a big-man camp early, with high-release bank shots, his calling-card skyhook and also by using his body to seal off vulnerable defenders.
“He’s working hard and getting himself in good position,” Brown said. “Earlier in the year we were getting it to him and he couldn’t do anything with it.”
Reichert had 12 points en route to a 16-point effort, but Joplin (12-6, 2-2) hung around, trailing 26-18 at halftime.
That’s when Brown when to the statistics.
“I went in at halftime and asked how many shots we shot as a team, and we shot 22,” Brown said. “Then I said, how many has Erik shot? They said five, and I said that wasn’t enough.”
On cue, Durham got hot. The senior guard hit long jumpers on the first three possessions of the third quarter: two 3-pointers and another with his foot on the line.
The rest of the Vikings (16-4, 3-1) followed his lead, and Parkview shot 14-for-19 (74 percent) from the field after halftime.
Joplin coach Jeff Williams was disappointed in his team’s defensive effort down the stretch.
“The wheels just fell off the cart in the second half,” Williams said. “We had a lot of trouble with our guard play throughout, and our bigs weren’t finishing either, so it was a well-rounded bull-whipping for us.”
Daniel Stokes scored 11 points for Joplin, which wrapped up eight games away from home in the loss.
“I thought a couple of our kids played scared; I’m not even going to lie,” Williams said. “I’m looking down my bench. I need to go somewhere.
“That performance is unacceptable, and we’ll have to figure some things out for Friday (at home) against Waynesville, and that might mean some changes in the lineup.”
The game featured Durham going head-to-head with another one of southwest Missouri’s most talented guards. But Joplin standout junior guard Charlie Brown struggled with Parkview’s zone traps and could not get into an offensive rhythm, finishing 1-for-7 in a four-point effort.
Bill Brown said his Vikings need to get better on the road, and will have a chance Friday at Hillcrest.
“There’s definitely a comfort zone and security here when we play at Parkview compared to when we are playing on the road,” Brown said. “(Hillcrest) has always been a good game for us. Hopefully we can continue the tradition of it always being a good game. It’s always been a good, hard-fought game for us against them and that’s what we’re looking for Friday night at the Hill.”
Parkview was once again without junior Darris Perry, who broke his hand in late December and missed all eight January games. He’s cleared to practice, though, and could return Friday.
Parkview’s AJ Green, who missed Friday’s loss at Branson, returned from an abdominal injury, scoring nine points.