Press downs Pats again
By Chuck Livingston Sports Editor
Irving Clay doesn’t think that Little Rock Parkview is just one of the best teams in the state of Arkansas. “I think they’re one of the top teams in America,” stated the veteran Marion coach bluntly. If that seems like hyperbole, consider that Clay caught the Patriots up close and personal last night, and the result was pretty impressive. Parkview (5-0 overall) stormed into Patriot Arena last night and scored the first 14 points of the game and led by as many as 32 points en route to a 63-36 non-conference win. The visiting Patriots forced 23 turnovers against Marion (3-4 overall) by utilizing a full-court press early on and alternating that with an impressive half-court trap and led to many run-outs and easy opportunities at the other end. As a result, Little Rock Parkview hit an efficient 53% of their shots, many of which came inside the painted area. When Marion did get a shot off on offense, the Pats hit just 11 of their 47 shots, a 23% mark from the field. By all accounts, Little Rock Parkview is one of the favorites in Class 6A state hoops this season, but Clay had a hunch that this meeting wasn’t going to go his way on Monday afternoon. “We had a horrible practice yesterday, maybe one of the worst practices we’ve ever had. We were working hard to prepare them and get them ready for this ballgame, but these kids today, they know more than the coaches,” Clay said. “We ran into a buzzsaw out there. They (Parkview) were aggressive. They played great defense, I knew that they would because they always do. They’re a great team who does things well and they caused a number of turnovers because I’ve played against them before and seem them for years.” Marion continued to struggle against the full-court press after previous losses to Tennessee Preparatory Academy in late November and Pine Bluff last weekend at the West Memphis Blue Devil Classic, but Parkview may have been best-equipped to expose that weakness. The visiting Patriots employed three players listed at 6-4 or taller in their starting lineup, with another player that size coming off of the bench. That made it difficult for the Pats to throw over the top of those bigger defenders. “They just played us up-and-down the line on defense. They were daring us to beat them with the dribble and daring us to beat them with the pass,” Clay said. “They gave great help inside and we were leaving our help a little bit and you don’t want to leave your feet against those bigs because you give them time to block your shot.” Parkview led 39-14 at halftime and forced 13 Marion turnovers in the first two quarters. That lead would extend to 54-26 after three quarters and would peak midway through the game’s final frame. Parkview had previously taken down wins against West Memphis and North Little Rock, a pair of league opponents of Marion. Parkview got a game-high 18 points from Ethan Henderson, 16 from Khalil Garland, 15 from Javon Franklin and 10 from Ryan Pippins in the win. Marion was led by Marlon Warren’s 9 points, 6 from Daylon Witt and Shaun Doss and 5 from Elisha Hobbs. The Patriots were led by Ashton Mitchell’s 6 rebounds, while Witt and senior A.J. Latham handed out 1 assist apiece. Marion will get the opportunity to turn the page on Friday night when they host Briarcrest Christian at Patriot Arena. The junior varsity girls game will tip at 3:30 PM, followed by a junior varsity boys game, a girls varsity game and then the varsity boys contest.