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Dragons enter season with ambitious goal: making it to the state playoffs / November 27, 2013

Coming off a five-point loss last year in the regional semi-finals to eventual state champions Brunswick High School, the Park View Dragons have their goals set high for this year — an appearance in the state playoffs.

Ivan Parker, who is in his eighth year at the helm of the Park View basketball program, says this year’s team has high expectations — and rightfully so.

“We made it to the regional semi-finals and lost by five to Brunswick,” Parker said. “We were actually up by five before they (Bulldogs) made a run and we just weren’t able to get back in the game.”

Parker said even though the defeat ended the Dragons’ season, it gave the players another taste of post-season play and the confidence they could compete for and win a state title. A year earlier, the team lost in the first round of Region I play.

“We have a goal to make the super-regions and then move on to the state,” said Parker.

The 19-5 record that Park View posted last year was quite impressive. Four of those losses came at the hands of the Bulldogs.

The Dragons will compete for the postseason in the 3-A East, Conference 25 division, part of the new VHSL competitive alignment. Opponents in the division are Colonial Heights, Lafayette, New Kent, Poquoson, York, Southampton and Warhill. During the regular season, the Dragons will play in the Tri-Rivers District.

Park View will be on the court this year without the services of Caleb Johnson, who has moved on to a Virginia prep school to finish out his senior year.

Parker said Johnson’s play will be missed, but he doesn’t want to shortchange what the other players brought to the table last year, either.

“The guys know what Caleb brought to the team, but they also know we have to move on — and they are doing just that,” Parker noted. “Last year on any given night we had three to four players who could lead the team in scoring — nine to ten players that could have been first team on any given night — so we feel comfortable we can be competitive.

“We just need to work together to win and the guys understand that.”

Speaking of the teams’ perimeter and inside play, Parker said it’s an effort that is improving daily.

“A lot of our players just got through with football season, so even though we are in our second week of practice, we’ve only had what I’d call two real practices with all the players here,” Parker stated.

“The guys are really picking up the pace and I feel like our perimeter and three-point shooting will improve tremendously in the next couple of weeks.”

Seniors Matt Brown and Nigel Stanley, both standout football players, are leading the Dragons at the one and two guard positions.

As for the inside game, Parker remarked that the post play by his inside guys is “coming together.

“We have three guys on the inside that we’re working and they were also with the football team — so again they haven’t seen much time on the practice court yet.”

Parker said that Deante Williams, Deshawn Coleman and Jonte Harris all are working at the big-man position to give the team a strong inside presence.

The team scrimmaged Randolph-Henry last Wednesday and Parker said even though “we won it, we still have some work to do.”

The coach commented that the team has gone through some team scrimmages and those have been played “very aggressively.”

“I told the guys if they can get after other teams the way they go at each other, we will be okay,” Parker added. “It’s been intense.

“Our defense is what wins us games and that is what we preach and the guys work for,” he stated.

“Press, turnover, lay-up — that’s what we want. We want to get most of our points like that, Pressure ‘D’ and easy points at the bucket.”

Parker believes team speed will be a factor in the Dragons’ favor this year, as it has been in others.

“We are not really big on the bench but we have a great amount of speed,” Parker said, “and we use that speed to our advantage. We won a lot of the games last year because we wore the other team down. You can be fast, but you have to be conditioned to play that tempo the entire game — so conditioning is a big part of what we do.”

The coach also hopes to draw more Dragon fans to home games on a more consistent basis this year, noting that the home court advantage plays a big part in teams’ success.

“Most of the guys we have playing for us want to play in front of big crowds,” Parker said. “I personally would like to see us have crowds of at least 200 or more each game. I think once people come out to see us and see what we can do — we can have a following that supports those numbers consistently.

“Some of those guys like Matt (Brown) and some of the other football players thrive on big-crowds and aren’t afraid to play around huge crowds.”

The team has taken on a very robust schedule, playing up to three games per week at various times during the season.

A game in January will promote breast cancer awareness. Parker stated that preliminary plans are for any woman wearing a pink shirt to get in the game free.

“In order to increase our attendance numbers we have to appeal to our students and the community as a whole,” he continued. “We hope by making a night more affordable for the students, it will allow them to come and see what we do.

“And we want the community to know that the team wants to be a part of the community and community activities. That’s why we hope to do more things at games to get the fans involved.

“The football program has moved to that level and now it’s time for the basketball team to step it up a level. We have lots to offer.”

Coach Parker said the team would have one more scrimmage before opening the season against cross-county rival Bluestone next Wednesday, December 4.

“If we continue to have great practices and scrimmages like we’ve had so far, we will be ready, definitely ready,” Parker concluded.

Parker is assisted by coaches Bryant Sykes, Ben Sizemore and Jason Hite.

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