The Parkway North girls basketball team likes starting off the season playing in the Gerald Linneman Memorial Tip-off Classic for Parkway district schools for good reason — they do well in the event.
For the third year in a row, the Vikings won the Classic championship. Parkway North won was never really challenged.
The Vikings opened with a 63-22 win over Parkway Central. Then, Parkway North scored a 76-24 victory over Parkway West. The Vikings closed out with a 71-41 triumph over Parkway South.
It was quite a debut for Brett Katz, back coaching the Vikings for the second time.
“Honestly, I felt going into the Tip-Off that we had the most experienced team and talent going in,” Katz said. “Our goal for the Tip-Off is to see where we are up against teams wearing a different jersey.”
After the three games, the Vikings have to like how they stand against other jerseys.
The team played well in the first game.
“We played pretty well against Central,” Katz said. “I was happy with the way that we set the tone early in the first quarter, caused some turnovers, and
did a really good job executing against their zone defense.”
Against Parkway West, the Vikings dominated again. It was an outing that pleased Katz.
“In the West game, I really thought that was our best and most consistent effort from everyone in the lineup,” Katz said. “We had very balanced scoring and
every one scored and contributed. Our defense was really solid ,especially our ability to get up and guard the basketball and not letting West get very comfortable in their offense.”
The outcome of the game with the Patriots was not as one-sided as it seems, Katz said.
“The score is not an indication of how hard of a game it was and I credit South for really playing hard and getting after us,” Katz said. “We had trouble guarding South and they mixed defenses pretty well. We pulled away in the second half when I felt our depth wore them down.
“That is something that I feel we have this year vs some of our good teams in the past. We are deep team.”
Naturally, earning the championship was good for the Vikings.
“The girls are excited to win, but they have much larger goals this year,” Katz said.
Parkway North went 21-7 last year and reached the Class 5 quarterfinals. Four starters are back this season for Katz, who had been the head coach and assistant coach for the Vikings sandwiched around a stint as an assistant coach at Incarnate Word Academy. Katz took over the top job when Will Young, who went 137-48 in seven seasons, stepped down after last year.
Katz learned his has a good team to work with this year. His team is deep and that will allow him to make moves and great breathers to players when necessary.
“I really liked our depth. We have four solid post players in Aliyah Belcher, Jordan May, Kyiaa Hailes, and Mya Johnson. We have solid guard play with Alecia Sutton, Jadyn Pimentel, Amaya Stovall, Emily Evans, Nihada Bracic and Brianna Petiford. We are 10 to 11 (players) deep.”
Belcher, a sophomore, is averaging 16 points through the three games. She has caught the eye of Katz.
“I have really been pleased with the development of Aliyah Belcher. She is finishing really well and I have seen great improvement in her
ability around the basket,” Katz said.
Next up for the Vikings is a game against the Eureka Wildcats, of the Suburban West Conference. Eureka will visit the Vikings for a 7 p.m. game Friday (Dec. 12). It will be the third game of the week for the Wildcats.
The game is a big one for the Vikings. Parkway North lost 64-58 to Eureka in the quarterfinals. The Wildcats went on to an eventual fourth-place finish.
“We are really looking forward to being tested over the next couple of weeks starting with a game against Eureka,” Katz said. “Then we are really excited to be invited to play in the Visitation Christmas tournament.”