Photographs by Thomas Metthe
Little Rock Parkview’s Airion Simmons (right) drives to the basket while being guarded by Mills’ Kevin Cross during the second quarter of Parkview’s 54-51 victory in the Class 5A boys state championship game Friday at Bank of the Ozarks Arena in Hot Springs. Parkview won 54-51 to avenge a loss to Mills in last year’s fi nal.
Saturday, March 10, 2018
HOT SPRINGS -- Mills has been a thorn in Little Rock Parkview's side lately, but the Patriots went with an old-school remedy to alleviate the pain.
Parkview relied on its defense to stifle the Comets for much of the game and outscored Mills 7-1 over the final two minutes to hold on for a 54-51 victory in the Class 5A boys state championship game Friday night at Bank of the Ozarks Arena in Hot Springs.
"Defense has led the way all season long, and it was no different in this one," Parkview Coach Al Flanigan said. "That's what we're about. I've said it before, defense travels, and we brought it all night in this one."
Senior guard C.J. White had 13 points, 7 rebounds and 2 steals on his way to grabbing MVP honors for the Patriots (25-8), which exacted revenge after losing last season's title game to the Comets by the same three-point margin. Senior guard Rod Terry and junior forward Allen Flanigan added 12 points apiece, while senior center and University of Arkansas, Fayetteville signee Ethan Henderson had 11 points, 4 rebounds and 2 blocks.
The victory gave Al Flanigan his seventh state championship in 11 appearances. Mills had won all three meetings with Parkview this season prior to Friday's final, but the previous matchup during the conference tournament gave Flanigan a reason for optimism.
Mills needed a fourth-quarter rally to beat the Patriots 60-57 in that semifinal Feb. 22. The Comets rallied again in the final period Friday to erase an eight-point deficit to take a late lead.
Parkview was ready this time around.
Mills senior guard Grehlon Easter hit two free throws with 2:19 left to give Mills a 50-47 lead, but Henderson answered with two of his own before senior forward Arion Simmons stole the ball on Mills' next possession and scored to give control back to Parkview.
The Patriots led 54-51 with 11.5 seconds left, and Easter's three-pointer fell short just before the final horn sounded.
Easter finished with 17 points and 3 steals for Mills (29-3), which saw its 28-game winning streak come to an end. Senior guard Patrice Greene scored 12 points, and junior forward Kevin Cross chipped in with 8 points and 4 rebounds.
Parkview raced out to a 9-2 lead, then extended it to 15-6 after the first eight minutes. An 8-2 spurt at the start of the second quarter stretched the advantage to 15. After hitting a 22-footer one trip earlier, Allen Flanigan added another from the left wing with 6:43 to go before the half, then found Terry streaking down the middle of the floor for a basket 12 seconds later to give the Patriots a 23-8 lead.
"They came out extremely motivated and hit us in the mouth," Mills Coach Raymond Cooper said. "We made mistakes, and they capitalized. We didn't come out with the energy that we needed, but that's not something that's new.
"We've been trying to figure that out for weeks. We've been able to skate by a couple of times, but tonight, it bit us."
Mills closed the period on a 10-2 run, with Easter either scoring or assisting on eight of those points. His jumper with three seconds left sailed well past the rim but was rebounded by Cross, who put it in before the buzzer to cut Parkview's lead to 25-18.
The Comets scored 9 of the first 13 points of the third quarter and whittled its deficit down to 29-27 after a three-point play from senior forward Kaevon Jones with 4:51 left in the period.
Parkview responded by scoring the next seven points, all resulting off Mills' turnovers. Terry started and ended the run with layups off steals, the latter of which gave Parkview a 36-27 lead.
The Patriots were up 43-35 early in the fourth quarter, but the Comets blasted off on an 11-2 run to grab their first lead of the game. Greene's steal and bucket put Mills ahead 46-45 with 2:52 remaining. White's jumper on the other end gave the advantage back to Parkview and served as a precursor for a wild finish.
"It's our goal every year to be the last team playing," Al Flanigan said. "We put our foot in the ground and made a statement. This is what we do, this is where we come from.
"Since 1971, no one has as many championships as Parkview, and we gonna keep on rolling."
LITTLE ROCK PARKVIEW
White finished 5-of-13 shooting from the field and 2 of 3 from the free-throw line for Little Rock Parkview, which won its second state title in three years. White also added 7 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 assist. He knocked down a three-pointer early in the first quarter to get the Patriots off to a fast start. “It’s hard to put into words what it means to win this one,” he said. “This one means a lot. It’s indescribable.”
Little Rock Parkview Coach Al Flanigan has won 524 games and seven state championships. … The victory was the Patriots’ 14th title since 1971, the most of any school during that stretch. … Mills hadn’t lost a game since dropping a 65-59 decision at Class 7A champ North Little Rock on Nov. 18. … The six points in the first quarter was a season low for Mills. … Parkview started four seniors and Mills started five.
Sports on 03/10/2018
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