Missed opportunities sink Marion
By Chuck Livingston Sports Editor
In what is quickly becoming a hotly-contested non-conference game in Arkansas state girls basketball, Little Rock Parkview gained bragging rights until 2016 last night. The Little Rock Lady Patriots (2-3 overall) overcame an early 7-0 deficit by forcing 24 Marion (4-3 overall) turnovers and quickly turning them into points and coasted to a 55-45 win. The teams have played the past 3 years in the non-conference portion of the schedule, and in a strange twist, the road team has now won every meeting. Parkview got 17 points from Kania Lasker, 10 from Morgan Brady, 9 off the bench from Mikayla Alexander and 8 from Jekalen Jones in the victory. Marion got another monster effort from 6-2 senior Ebony Day, who hit for 14 points, 13 rebounds and rounded up 6 blocks in the contest. Jakyya Clay hit for 8 points and 3 boards while Tyquesha Selvy added 10 points, 4 rebounds and 5 steals. The Lady Pats gave themselves multiple opportunities at second-chance points last night, coming up with 19 offensive rebounds, but struggled to convert them into baskets. “We just missed too many layups tonight, and those at point blank range too,” said Marion head coach Shunda Johnson after the game. “We just need to score the basketball. On top of that, we didn’t rotate and help out on defense like we were just this past weekend.” This past weekend, Marion upended Springdale Har-Ber and league rival Mountain Home before losing to Fort Smith Northside as part of the Greene County Tech Knockout Tournament in Paragould. While it was Parkview’s defense that finished fast, it was actually Marion that started on a tear. The home-standing Lady Pats coaxed their visitors into misses on their first 6 shots in the opening quarter, while also forcing 4 turnovers in that span. That allowed Marion to run out to a 7-0 lead before Parkview connected on their first field goal with 1:44 left in the opening quarter. Despite that, the visitors had closed to within 9-7 after the game’s first 8 minutes. Parkview would claim its first lead of the night with 5:51 left in the second quarter with an 11-10 advantage and the visitors would score the final 5 points of the half to tote a 21-19 lead with them to halftime. At the half, Marion had lost 12 turnovers and seemed to be missing junior point guard Marie Hunter, who also missed the game against Fort Smith Northside. Despite that, Johnson wasn’t willing to use that as an excuse. “You can’t rely on the fact that Marie is out right now,” said the fourth-year Lady Pats head coach. “She was out for 10 weeks almost last year. Grow from this and play better basketball.” The game remained tight through the third as Marion gobbled up 7 offensive rebounds in that quarter and got a pair of three-pointers from Selvy and Kennedi Boykins to help open up the inside, but Parkview extended its lead to 38-34 entering the final frame. Once there, Parkview blew the game open. The visiting Lady Pats hit 4 of their first 6 shots there, and took the first double-digit lead of the night at 47-36 on a layup from Alexander and 5:53 left in the game. Additionally, Marion lost 6 more turnovers in that quarter alone. Despite its second straight loss, Johnson was already looking forward to her team’s next game. “I’m just ready for us to bounce back and see how we respond to this,” said the coach. Marion will get that chance on Friday night when they host Briarcrest Christian at Patriot Arena. The junior varsity girls game will tip at 3:30 PM.