Park Hill South boys secure conference title

RIVERSIDE, Mo. — Park Hill South claimed another piece of mid-season hardware on Friday, Feb. 16, with a win against St. Joseph Central at Park Hill South High School.

The Panthers’ defense locked in after trailing early sparking an 8-0 run in the first quarter on a pair of 10-second violations. The defense turned an 11-9 deficit into a 17-11 lead and the team never looked back on the way to clinching at least a share of the Suburban Conference Red Division with a 63-48 win against the visiting Indians.

“It feels great, ever since I have gotten here we hadn’t won conference,” junior guard Desi Williams, who tallied a game-high 20 points, said. “It’s great to know we’re one step closer, but we’re not done. We want to finish the conference 9-1, win the next two games, that’s what we need to do, close out and finish strong.”

The win gave Park Hill South a two-game lead in the conference standings with two games to play, a trip to Raytown to face the Blue Jays on Wednesday, Feb. 23 and a return trip to St. Joseph on Thursday, Feb. 22 to wrap up the regular season.

 BRYCE MERENESS/Citizen photo Park Hill South junior Lamell Robinson, center, looks for a driving lane in the Panthers 63-48 win against St. Joseph Central on Friday, Feb. 16 at Park Hill South High School. 

BRYCE MERENESS/Citizen photo
Park Hill South junior Lamell Robinson, center, looks for a driving lane in the Panthers 63-48 win against St. Joseph Central on Friday, Feb. 16 at Park Hill South High School. 

“Right now we have a share of the conference title,” Panthers coach Dan Parra said. “We want to win one of the next two to take it outright. That was our goal coming into the year. Our conference is so hard.”

Park Hill South eventually built a double-digit lead expanding the run to 17-3 over the final five minutes of the first quarter and the Indians never got the game back to a single-digit deficit. However Park Hill South never could completely place the 8-14 Indians in the rearview mirror.

“We just never seemed like we could get far enough ahead to be relaxed,” Parra said. “We kept it around a 10- or 12-point margin for most of the game. It never got to that 20-point margin that we want to get to. For one reason or another we just weren’t as focused in defensively as we should be.”

Park Hill South celebrated senior night prior to the game and Parra tinkered with the lineup to give a start to his four seniors. The changes didn’t slow the Panthers down however as a big bucket from senior Robert Rhodes and a triple from MJ Walker were the team’s first five points of the contest. The Panthers bench, which included Williams who sat in the stead of Walker, cheered heavily at the group’s successes.

“It was a lot of energy,” Williams said. “We wanted to come out here and play for our seniors. It was their last home game. I feel like we did that. We gave them the starting positions tonight and they held their own as the starting job. I’m proud of them and we were able to come in and finish the job off.”

After Parra inserted his usual starters however, the team really took off, with the first two of what wound up as four 10-second violations.

“We’re deep, a lot of those seniors would start at a lot of programs,” Parra said. “It was great for them to be able to go home and say I got those points. They were a big part of it. It was great for them.”

Park Hill South 70, Liberty 67

A strong defensive second half and superior fourth-quarter free-throw shooting gave the Panthers a crucial win in the conference title chase on Tuesday, Feb. 13 at Liberty High School.

Park Hill South trailed 41-33 at the break and had cut the deficit to 54-52 entering the fourth quarter before a free-throw clinic in the fourth quarter. Park Hill South hit 12-of-15 freebies in the frame to stay ahed of Liberty who hit just 1-of-4 shots from the line in the final quarter.

Juniors Lamel Robinson finished with a team high 19 and Williams chipped in 17 points in the win. CJ Lee and Saadique Perkins each finished with double figures scoring 16 and 13, respectively.