Third-quarter surge nets Spartans playoff win
East Ascension took Parkway's best shot in the second half of their home first-round playoff game on Friday night.
Then they responded like champions.
After Parkway had fought back from an early 10-point deficit to take a two-point lead early in the third quarter, the Spartans answered with a 17-4 run that put them ahead by 15. They never looked back, rolling to a 66-51 victory.
"We started the game off hot," East Ascension head coach Tyler Turner said. "They thought they would get a lead and the other team would lay down. Parkway is a damn good team. They didn't lay down; they kept fighting. We refocused in that third quarter. We were patient, we ran our offense and we locked them down on defense."
The game looked like it would be a laugher early on as East Ascension raced out to a 13-3 lead, on the strength of two 3-pointers by Camryn Carter and a big dunk by Hobert Grayson.
However, Parkway didn't panic. They chipped away at the deficit, and despite Carter going off for 10 in the quarter, they only trailed the Spartans, 22-15, heading to the second.
Parkway kept the momentum in the next period, tying the game.
To end the half, Grayson threw down another dunk, but on the other end, Bryce Roberts drilled a 3-pointer to cut East Ascension's lead to 35-34 at the half.
To begin the third, Roberts added another try to give Parkway their first lead at 37-35. It wouldn't last long.
Grayson sparked the 17-4 Spartan blitzkrieg. He scored four straight points, Javon Carter added four and Tre' Joseph knocked down a triple to help East Ascension take a 54-41 advantage into the fourth quarter.
In the final period, just when it looked like Parkway may begin a rally, Grayson threw down another thunderous dunk following a Spartan steal. That put them back up 14.
They eventually rolled to the 66-51 victory.
In the win, Carter scored a game-high 20, but Grayson was right behind with 19. Much of his output came in the second half.
"Hobert is an impact player for us. He does a little bit of everything on offense and defense," Turner said. "He has a high basketball IQ and a high motor. He doesn't force the game; he allows it to come to him. He just took his time, took what they gave him and he made the most of it."
Javon Carter chipped in with 11 points.
After a sloppy defensive performance in the first half, East Ascension surrendered just 17 second-half points.
"In the first half, we were getting a little tired playing man to man," Turner said. "We weren't getting off of screens, and we weren't communicating. They were beating us off of the dribble, so in the second half, we switched to a zone to defend them better on the outside and get more rebounds on the inside. They were killing us on the boards in the first half, so the zone prevented them from driving, and it gave us some extra defensive rebounds."
East Ascension's win over Parkway marked the fifth year in a row that the Spartans have won a first-round playoff game.
East Ascension (23-8) will now go on the road in the second round to face fourth-seeded Bonnabel (24-6).