It didn’t come easy.
Down by 10 points in the final seven minutes of regulation, the Tornadoes (23-1) rallied to clinch a 64-61 victory over Marion County Red Raiders in the final 20 seconds of the game for a perfect 8-0 Class 1A, Area 13 record and hosting rights for the area tournament next week.
After closing the lead to 61-60 in the final minute of the game, the Tornadoes took command of the contest. Desmond Brown hit two free throws to put Parrish ahead 62-61. Marion County turned the ball over on its next possession.
With 20 seconds left on the clock, Brown came through again at the free-throw line, sinking both baskets to help Parrish secure their 64-61 victory.
Marion County (19-6) got a good look at the basket on a 3-point attempt in the closing seconds, but the shot was off the mark, giving Parrish its second win over the Red Raiders this season.
Barry Hill led the Tornadoes with 23 points, seven rebounds and seven shot blocks, while Jermichael Harris recorded his second-consecutive double-double with 10 points, 10 rebounds and a blocked shot.
Brown had 10 points and seven rebounds, while Reginald Harris scored 12 points.
Marion County's DeShawn Riebeschl finished with a game-high 25 points and Ready Swanigan put in 17.
Parrish also rallied from a 10-point deficit to beat Carbon Hill in the championship game of the Walker County Tournament on Saturday.
“It says a lot for the character of our guys to be able to come back from double-digit deficits in the past two games. It seems like we’ve been in this situation five or six times this season with different opponents, but we find a way to earn big wins in championship-quality environments,” Parrish coach Heath Burns said.
“These kids are winners — they don’t want to lose and when it’s crunch time, they always seem to rise up. We didn’t even have to go to fouling to come back, we just kept playing defense and forcing turnovers.”
Burns also said that having the ability to host the area tournament is not only a bonus for the school and the Parrish community, but also for his team’s three seniors.
“It’s always great to be able to play an area tournament on your own home court, where you’ve got your own community and fans there to support you along the way,” Burns said.
“I’m really proud for our kids — it’s good for our school and our students to be able to be a part of it. Our team has overcome a lot of adversity lately — not just on the court, but with discipline issues and other challenges that we should not be having to deal with. But we’ve kept finding a way to overcome our obstacles. I’m just I’m thrilled that we get to play another home game for our team, especially for our seniors, Brodrick Sanders, Desmond Brown and Miguel Samuels.”
The Red Raiders kept the lead throughout most of the game, establishing an 18-16 edge in the first period. Marion County extended its lead to five after outscoring Parrish 15-12 in the second period for the 33-28 halftime lead. Marion County added another point to its lead in the third period after a 16-15 scoring edge for a 49-43 advantage.
The Tornadoes close out the regular season with a trip to Cordova on Friday. Parrish was scheduled to play Dora on Thursday and Saturday, but both games have been canceled.