In one of the best rivalries in the Northland, Park Hill and Park Hill South duked it out Friday night for pride within the district. And it lived up to the hype.
In the last minute, both teams traded baskets to inch closer to the lead or tie.
But after a night of great shooting from outside, it was Park Hill South freshman Desi Williams who drained a three at the top of the key with 3.4 seconds left and put the Panthers ahead for good in the 54-51 rumble.
“I just wanted to get the ball up the floor and see what we had,” Williams said. “I tried to push it up, the three opened up and put that one in.”
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Williams ended the night with 21 points, with 14 coming in the second half.
His partner in the backcourt Friday was freshman Lamel Robinson, who also finished with 21 points. With Robinson’s quick moves with the ball and fluid jump shot, he will be an up-and-coming player to watch.
“He’s still learning the game,” Park Hill South coach Dan Parra said. “He’s still growing up. He wants it so bad. He works so hard. He’s his worst critic and he gets down on himself so much. We just keep telling him, next play. He really grew up tonight.”
Both teams came out pretty amped. Student sections were screaming with rabid enthusiasm, leading to the players making some simple mistakes early in the game.
Once the dust settled from early missed shots and turnovers, the Panthers, 10-10, took a 12-11 lead through the first quarter.
Park Hill, 11-10, bounced back quickly thanks to big threes by senior Tanner Zeil. The big man hit two three-pointers that helped give the Trojans a slim two-point lead at halftime.
Zeil and Dru’ Smith were bright spots for the Trojans. Smith’s aggressiveness on the boards led to 12 second-half points and a game-tying layup late before Williams hit his shot.
Still, it was a difficult loss to swallow for Park Hill, which beat Park Hill South in overtime earlier this year.
“They’re hurting a bit, especially losing to your rival, but it was a great high school basketball game,” Park Hill coach Chad Jones said. “Both teams were going at it, playing great defense.”
Now both teams must move forward after this big rivalry game, and you could tell it meant something. Williams was screaming out of happiness after he hit the shot as his teammates mauled him, with the student section going nuts. It might change Park Hill South’s momentum the rest of the year.
“It gives us our confidence back,” Williams said. “We’ve got a lot of confidence going into making a run at districts. I believe we can do it. We can get far.”