Or at least they seem to be.
After an at-times rocky conference season, the 6A state champs appear poised to defend their title heading into the start of next season’s state championship. After three consecutive wins, the Little Rock Parkview Patriots (20-5, 8-5) seem to have regained the momentum with which they tore through one of the nation’s most prestigious holiday hoops tournaments nearly two months ago.
On Dec. 30, Parkview stood at the top of the Mid-South basketball world. Head Coach Al Flanigan and his small but tenacious Patriots had just become the first team outside of Texas to win the north Texas-based Whataburger Tournament since 1992. Already #1 in Arkansas, Parkview was now breaking into some national top-25 rankings. There was even talk of Parkview returning to the same lofty national status achieved 20 years earlier, when Derek Fisher, Maurice Robinson, Dion Cross, Kenneth Taylor and Jamal Lindsey finished a 29-1 record, a perfect 14-0 in conference – and at one point achieved a #4 national ranking.
In early January, all that stood between this season’s Patriots matching those ’92 Patriots was a hellacious meat-grinder of a conference schedule – a 7A/6A East gamut that ranks among the toughest in state history.
Besides Parkview, three words: Hall, Jacksonville, Jonesboro. Other conference teams – West Memphis, Marion – aren’t exactly pushovers, either. Each of these teams has multiple players who will go on to play to play college ball; the conference’s eight teams altogether produced 17 college players who graduated last year, according to VYPE magazine.
Parkview struggled early on, losing half of its first 10 conference games. Four of those losses came to archrivals Jacksonville and Hall. But after that last loss to Hall, on Feb. 10, the team has gelled to reel off three straight wins: 69-26 vs. Searcy, 55-39 vs. Jonesboro and 51-34 vs. Marion. A Parkview win at West Memphis on Friday could lock up a #3 seed heading into the state tournament. [more discussion of that game and others in central Arkansas at ARPreps’ weekly prepscast].
Not surprisingly, Parkview co-captains Emmanuel Adoyi, a senior, and Nebraska commit I.J Ready, a junior, have led the way. Sophomore guard Anton Beard, who ESPN reports has offers from UConn, Arkansas and Georgetown among others, also stars. Here’s the damage they’ve done through 25 games:
Points per game: 8.1
FG%: 48.6 (72-148)
3-Pt FG% 33.3 (1-3)
FT%: 68.1 (62-91)
Total Rebounds: 220 (Offensive 91 Defensive 129)
Points per game: 18.0
FG%: 56.3 (138-245)
3-Pt FG% 30.7 (35-114)
FT%: 85.8% (73-85)
Total Rebounds: 42 (Offensive 7 Defensive 35)
Points per game: 16.5
FG%: 57.9 (124-214)
3-Pt FG% 30.1 (22-73)
FT%: 66.2 (100-151)
Total Rebounds: 108 (Offensive 43 Defensive 65)
– Stats courtesy of Parkview assistant coach Champ Watson