In Darraja Parnell’s first game as a freshman, in Andover Central’s season opener in 2012, he scored 29 points. It was an eye-catching start and the spotlight quickly found him.
Parnell has continued scoring in bunches as a sophomore and averages 23.3 points. He has 13 games scoring 19 or more points and five where he has scored more than 30, including a career-high 41.
But there are different expectations for Parnell this season.
“Absolutely,” Andover Central coach Jesse Herrmann said. “Last year, clearly our go-to option in situations was (All-Metro selection) Zach Winter. This year, clearly our go-to option at any time as far as need a basket or playing through somebody every single time down the floor, it goes through Darraja.”
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Parnell’s versatility is his best attribute. He handles the ball well, can run the floor, spots up for the jumper, drives inside and can rebound and post up.
“He’s starting to play a lot stronger,” Herrmann said. “And he’s still a 15-year-old. That’s going to come. Last year he’d go in and expect, hope, to get the foul and not really finish as strong as he is this year. He’s trying to go up and make the basket and if (the foul) comes, he’s getting to the free-throw line.”
Parnell has made 84 percent of his free throws, and his 127 makes are already the school record. Andover Central (8-10) still has at least three more games, including two regular-season matchups.
Andover Central is on a three-game winning streak but the Jaguars won 17 games in 2012-13. They need more from Parnell with this inexperienced group.
And teams know exactly what Parnell can do, know the Jaguars will look to him first offensively. Yet teams continue to struggle to slow him.
“He’s starting to figure out what defenses are going to do against him,” Herrmann said. “That’s what makes what he’s doing more impressive. There’s no doubt who teams are focusing on and who they’re trying to take away.”
Derby’s triple-double — Brett Flory has coached basketball for 13 seasons, nine as a head coach. And in the previous 12 seasons, he does not remember a single double-overtime game.
But in less than a month, Flory and his Derby boys team has played — and won — three double-overtime games. Two of those wins were in the same week, on Feb. 11 and 14.
“I’ve had my fill of them for a while,” Flory said with a laugh. “We’ll take a win anyway we can get it. If it has to be that way every time, then it has to be.”
Derby’s first double OT win was over Blue Valley West in the McPherson tournament. It was a key win for a young team yearning for experience.
The win over Maize was important because the Eagles had beaten Derby by 25 points on Dec. 17, and both now have one loss in Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division I.
“We were fortunate to outlast them,” Flory said. “There was a huge difference in maturity from the first time we played a double-overtime game.”
Derby had to come back from a 15-point deficit to pick up the win over Salina Central.
“The kids have picked up a lot of toughness,” Flory said. “There’s some fortune involved when you win all three games in that scenario, but there’s also a lot of toughness and character. That’s fun to see.”
Class 4A sub-states — Fran Martin, assistant executive director for the Kansas State High School Activities Association, was busy in meetings Thursday, trying to plan where to put officials for upcoming sub-state games.
Sub-states for Class 4A I and II, 3A, 2A, 1A-I and 1A-II will be seeded on Wednesday, while 6A and 5A will be seeded on March 1.
With 4A splitting into two divisions this season, it created a bigger headache for Martin.
“The schools knew when they voted for this that officials would be a challenge to be able to cover the games,” Martin said.
One of the ways the KSHSAA tried to alleviate the issue with officials was by putting 4A I and II in four-team sub-states.
Class 6A and 5A are seeded 1-8 and split into two sub-states, with all games being played at the higher seed.
While that would be a positive way to do 4A I and II, Martin said it’s just too difficult to plan for officials because of the geography of 4A.
“The 4A schools are much more spread out than 6A and 5A schools,” Martin said. “With 5A and 6A, those for the most part are in metropolitan areas. With Class 4A, if you put in groups of eight and seed the Saturday before you start playing games, we don’t have enough officials to let them get off work to travel, for example, from Wichita to Goodland for a game.”
Rash of injuries — Maize South’s Brett Barney suffered a concussion on Feb. 11, missing the next two games.
On Feb. 14, Kade Kordonowy suffered a concussion and missed Tuesday’s game against Andover Central, a 54-50 loss. Both will play Friday at Andover, but guard Jack Domnick will miss his third game with a back injury.
Maize South is 14-3.
“Basically I’m trying to put together a starting lineup,” Maize South coach Kip Schultz said.