Honoring a legend

Van Buren County head boys basketball coach Fred Parsons is awarded a plague on Tuesday after the official dedication by the school of "Fred Parsons Court."

KEOSAUQUA – It's been Fred Parsons' court for over six decades.

Tuesday night just made it official.

Van Buren County honored the dean of Iowa high school basketball coaches, naming the home court of the Warriors after Parsons prior to a Southeast Iowa Superconference south division clash with West Burlington. The Warriors came within one half of honoring their coach with a winning night against the Falcons, playing a dead-even 16 minutes with a team hoping to make a run at a conference title this season.

After closing out 2020 with a strong second half in a conference win over Cardinal, another strong second half lifted West Burlington past the Warriors on Tuesday. Darian Johnson scored 14 of his 16 points in the final two quarters as the Falcons doubled up the Warriors, 46-23, in the final 16 minutes to earn a 73-50 win on Fred Parsons Court.

"With Coach Parsons being honored, we knew Van Buren was going to come out and play really hard," West Burlington head boys basketball coach Ryan O'Hern said. "They were going to try and give us a game. Being tied at halftime maybe surprised some of our guys. It didn't surprise me. I knew they were going to play hard right away to get their coach a win."

Jackson Manning led the way for the Warriors, scoring a game-high 20 points including the first of Van Buren County's three made 3-pointers in the first quarter. Manning and Owen Loeffler teamed up to spark a sudden 6-0 burst late in the first half that had the Warriors on the verge of taking the lead into the second half before a late three-point play by Marvion Jackson tied the score at 27-27.

"I think, collectively as a team, we're right there with (West Burlington)," Parsons said. "Individually, their size, their maturity, their basketball savvy is better than what we've got."

That became more apparent in the second half, which began with a tiebreaking 3-pointer from Austin Applegate. It would be the first of seven makes from 3-point range in the half by the Falcons, including a trio by Colten Sherwood to highlight a 17-point night to lead West Burlington.

Inside, Jackson racked up a double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Johnson added eight assists while the Falcons collected eight steals as a team, turning that defense into instant offense scoring 20 points in the third quarter and 26 more in the fourth to put the game out of reach.

"We're just not fluid with the offense. We got some drives off it, but we're not patient enough," Parsons said. "When we get impatient, we make bad passes. They capitalized on turnovers and that was pretty much it."

While the final result didn't go the way of the Warriors, the night belonged to the man that has patrolled the sidelines as head basketball coach for 61 seasons ranking second all-time with 784 wins among basketball coaches in Iowa. The 785th win will have to wait for another day, possibly Friday when the Warriors (0-6, 0-5 SEI south) head to Danville to take on the Bears.

"I would like to think it's not just longevity. I would like to think it's something the people in the community are proud of," said Parsons when talking about the school's home basketball court barring his name. "Hopefully, with the number of kids that I've coached, they're happy with how things have gone. We haven't been one of the better teams in the league in recent years, but there's light at the end of the tunnel. We started four underclassment, so I think things are going to be better for us."

Parsons thanked everyone from his wife to all his assistant coaches over the years to the 732 total kids that he has coached in 61 seasons. To this point, Parsons plans on coaching more kids to more wins over more seasons with many hopefully coming on the newly-dedicated home court of the Warriors.

"You retire, sit at home and look out the window? I'd rather be doing something other than that," Parsons said. "My wife and I talked about this the other day. If you left Iowa in the winter time, where would like to go? Arizona? Texas? Mississippi? Louisiana? Florida? None of that seemed to interest her. She told me she's not going anywhere, so that pretty well synchs it right there."

— Scott Jackson can be reached at sjackson@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter@CourierScott.

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