The Parkview Vikings — plauged by injuries and only recently inching above the .500 mark — are working to convince basketball fans that they are the second-best team in Springfield.
On Thursday, Parkview (7-5) tips off the 2015 Bass Pro Tournament of Champions against Paul VI (5-7) of Fairfax, Virginia.
“We are super-excited for this opportunity to represent Parkview — or represent Springfield,” Vikings coach Bill Brown said. “”We’re excited to go play this game and have some fun, and see what we can get done.”
Parkview went 14-12 a season ago, but Brown “begged” Springfield Public Schools Director of Athletics and Tournament of Champions director Mark Fisher to choose Parkview as Springfield’s representative in the 2015 field of elite teams.
Less than four miles south of the Parkview campus in Springfield, the Kickapoo Chiefs are 11-1 on the season. Brown lobbied for Parkview on behalf of players like Zach Cameron, a 6-foot-10 center committed to Missouri State, and Autry Acord, who brushed off a torn ACL to score 46 points in a recent 73-66 win over Greenwood Blue and Gold tournament Gold bracket champion Ozark.
“Kickapoo probably has the best team in the city and (is) very well deserving of the opportunity, but we only get these opportunities that come around once in a while,” Brown said. “Mark (Fisher), after I begged so much last year, gave it to us.”
Kickapoo coach Dick Rippee will take his team to Sedalia for a tournament that runs at the same time as the Tournament of Champions. Rippee coached a Chiefs team that included his son, Ryan, on the roster in 2010, which is one of the reasons he says he supports Brown having the chance to coach his son, Jake, against national competition this week.
“(Fisher) is not the AD of Kickapoo High School, he’s the AD of Springfield schools, and I get it. Are we disappointed we’re not in it? Sure, but at the same time I’m happy for Bill (Brown). He gets the chance to coach his son in the tournament which is the same thing I got,” Rippee said. “There are no bad feelings or anything, we understand that’s the way it works.”
Brown lobbied for Parkview’s inclusion in the field long before Acord tore his ACL or Cameron struggled with in-season knee injuries and bronchitis. Both are back in the lineup, and while Acord will play through pain, Brown says Cameron is close to full-strength.
“(Cameron’s) whole deal was conditioning and hopefully we’re getting him back into shape,” Brown said.
For Jake Brown, Garrett Cunningham, Connor Ratcliff and the rest of the Vikings, the chance to play against studs such as Syracuse-commit Franklin Howard of Paul VI in the tournament opener represents a basketball dream realized. For this reason, the souvenir program business may prove lucrative Thursday prior to the 5 p.m. tipoff.
“Just being in the program with some of these kids is something I know my kids are going to cherish,” Brown said.
Parkview Vikings fast takes
Location: Springfield, Missouri
Colors: green and gold
Coach: Bill Brown
Previous season win/loss record: 14-12
T of C history: eight total appearances, first in 1985 and last in 2011, all-time record of 7-17
Notable alumni: Dr. Gail Frederick, attorney and member of the 1965 basketball state champion “Jolly Green Giants;” Scott Bailes, retired Major League Baseball pitcher; Bruce Renner, educator and member of the Springfield Public Schools Board of Education since 1994.