Coming off a pair of sensational wins over Ft. Zumwalt West and Seckman, the boys basketball team took a huge step up in competition Monday night, when it took on No. 9-ranked Hazelwood Central in a first round game at the Parkway West/Ameritime Classic Boys Basketball Tournament. The tournament is being held in Creve Coeur at Carl and Doris Petty Student Recreation Center
The Colts, an 11-5 ballclub that’s flown under the hype-machine radar for most of the season, finally had a chance to make a name for itself, if only they could take down one of the teams some consider the best in the entire area.
And as it turned out, Parkway Central nearly pulled it off, rallying from nine points down late in the fourth quarter to force overtime, before eventually running out of gas in a 70-62 loss to the Hawks.
“Early on, I thought our kids were a little nervous,” Parkway Central head coach Todd Pannett said. “But after that, I thought they responded. I told the kids, there’s going to be a series of runs, and that we would have our chance, if we got some stops, we’d go on one of our own. And I’m pretty proud of how the kids played. We just couldn’t finish the deal.”
The Colts were outscored 12-4 in overtime, which proved to be the difference in a thrilling ballgame that both teams had chances to win during the late stages of regulation.
Hazelwood Central built a nine-point lead with less than six minutes remaining in the game, and seemed destined for an easy victory, but Parkway Central mounted a furious comeback and outscored the Hawks 15-6 over the final 5:52 to tie the score with less than a minute left.
Colt senior Zach Biggs was tremendous during that final flurry in regulation, scoring eight of his game-high 24 points to spark a run that nearly became one of the great comeback wins of the season.
Teammates Joe Esstman (16 points) and Zach Carel (13 points), also had big nights for the Colts.
But the two most important points came from senior Eriq Moore, who hit a pair of clutch free throws with 53.2 seconds left in regulation that tied the score at 58, and sent the game into overtime.
“I thought all our guys really held up well against (Hazelwood Central) tonight,” Pannett said. “We were really worried about their size. I mean they are tough. They’re long, and lean, and athletic. And that’s what we were worried about.”
And it was because of that athleticism, and superior execution, that Hazelwood Central was able to pull away in overtime.
The Hawks were able to take the initial lead in overtime thanks to an athletic move to the basket by junior Demetrius Tippett, and then extended their edge on a putback jam by senior Marcus Lampley.
Those two plays gave Hazelwood Central a four-point lead in overtime, which was more than enough to close out the game against a Parkway Central team just didn’t have enough left in its tank to pull out a victory.
“I’m still so proud of our kids and what they did tonight,” Pannett said.
Parkway Central is now 11-6 on the year, and will move on to the consolation semifinals of the Ameritime Classic, where they’ll face 16-3 St. Francis Borgia, Wednesday night at 5:30 p.m.
Hazelwood Central, which is now 12-4, will take on 10-5 Lafayette, in the Ameritime championship semifinals, also on Wednesday, at 8:30 p.m.