By Shane Merrill | Writer
Fresh off a come from behind victory in the first round of the region tournament, the Parker Pheasants faced off against Wagner with a trip to the SoDak 16 on the line. Both teams shot extremely well on the night, but in the end, the Red Raiders sank several key free throws, giving them a 77-70 victory.
Both teams shot well from the onslaught, making several key runs. Parker managed to pull within three late, but a foul on a last second heave attempt sent Wagner to the line, where they sank all three free throws, leading 22-16 after one.
The Pheasants came back firing in the second quarter, as Colby Olson, Carter Robertson, Davin Fuller and Cole Jurgens all helped pull the Pheasants back into the game, with several key shots both inside and outside. Parker managed to pull ahead by one at several stops, but could not convert to expand the advantage, and a last second shot pushed the Red Raiders back out front 40-39 at the half.
The track meet was on from there, as the teams continued firing away, sinking shot after shot. The Pheasants stayed within striking distance throughout the third quarter, but midway through several missed three pointers pushed Parker back into a six point hole, and they were never able to truly recover, as foul trouble and missed opportunities down the stretch were enough for Wagner to squeak out a 77-70 win on their home floor.
Leading Parker for the final time this season were juniors Robertson with 18 points while Fuller had 15. Seniors Jurgens and Olson ended their career on high notes posting 13 and 11 respectively. Jurgens also led the rebounding effort with eight.
Both teams shot nearly 50 percent from the field, including nine three pointers for each squad. The difference maker was the Red Raiders ability to get to the foul line, shooting 28 free throws and making 16 while the Pheasants had just five opportunities at the free throw line, making four.
“We showed that we have improved offensively. A lot of good things happened, but we were not able to stop the ball defensively or take away rhythm 3s,” commented coach Lance Friesen. “Wagner gets a lot of credit as they were aggressive all night while taking care of the basketball. They also shot well overall.”
Parker finished their season with a 12-10 record, and were one game short of the SoDak 16.
Exciting finish lifts
Parker over MCM
In a wild, come from behind finish, the Parker Pheasants were able to topple neighboring MCM to open region 5A play last Tuesday in Parker. The Pheasants were seeded third in the regional, and had split with MCM during the regular season. After falling behind early, the Pheasants were able to put it all together when it mattered, taking the victory 59-53.
The Pheasants got off to a slow start early in the first quarter, with MCM taking a quick lead. Parker’s Carter Robertson got going in the first quarter from long range, hitting back to back three’s to keep the Pheasants within striking distance. With just under four minutes to go in the fourth quarter senior Cole Jurgens picked off a pass near half court and went straight to the bucket for a powerful slam dunk, blowing the roof off the gym and giving the Pheasants much needed momentum. The Pheasants stayed close the rest of the way, but trailed 20-16 after one.
Parker got going early in the second quarter, pulling quickly ahead before settling in and trading jabs with the visitors. The Pheasants managed 14 points in the second, compared to just 11 for the Fighting Cougars, but still trailed by one at half.
Things fell quickly in the third quarter as MCM widened the lead hitting several shots to push ahead by six at quarters end, holding the Pheasants to just six points while scoring 11.
It was do or die in the final frame for Parker, when a spark of much needed urgency hit. Jaivyn DeBoer and Jurgens cranked up the offense for Parker with DeBoer hitting six straight points to push the Pheasants into a one point lead with four minutes to play. Time continued to tick, and with the Pheasants now up one and with the ball, Robertson let a three pointer fly, but was fouled sending him to the line where he made all three attempts, pushing the lead to four with two minutes to go. MCM missed their next attempt, where Davin Fuller pulled in the rebound and found a waiting Jurgens on the other end of the floor. Jurgens then pulled up for the biggest three pointer of his career, burying the shot and sending the gym into an explosion, with Parker now up seven with just over a minute to play. MCM tried to salvage the game, sinking a three and calling a time out, but down the stretch Parker was able to sink their free throws, going on to win 59-53.
Leading Parker was Robertson with 21 points and seven rebounds. Jurgens also had 16 points and 10 rebounds, good enough for a double-double while DeBoer had15 points.
Parker hit nine three pointers on the night hitting at 52 percent from behind the arc, while shooting 45 percent overall. The Pheasants also got to the charity stripe for 20 attempts, making 14. Parker held the Fighting Cougars to just 33 percent from three and 41 percent overall. Both teams also had 13 turnovers.
“We showed a lot of toughness to battle back and find a way to win,” said head coach Lance Friesen. “You could see our defensive intensity in the fourth quarter was much better. We hit shots down the stretch and the kids sure did a nice job finding a way to get a win in the postseason.”
The win improved Parker to 12-9 overall, setting them up for a date against Wagner on Friday, with a chance at the SoDak 16 on the line.