HOT SPRINGS — Maybe the biggest item in the stat sheet of Little Rock Parkview-Pine Bluff was the number of lead changes.
That came with 2:28 left in regulation and gave the Patriots a 69-64 win in the Class 6A Boys championship game.
For Parkview coach Al Flanagan, it was the sixth championship for him as a head coach. And it’s a total of 12, counting the titles where he was an assistant coach, going all the way back to being on Jerry Rook’s staff at — of all the ironies — Pine Bluff in 1977.
The Patriots trailed in the game from the beginning.
That was mostly due to the Zebras’ Marcus Thomas, who finished with 31 points and was hitting 3-pointers one after another in the first quarter. With an 18-10 lead with 2:14 left in the period, Parkview climbed back to cut the margin to 20-14 at the end of the quarter on a tip-in by Caleb Parker and a layup from Caleb Stokes.
In the second quarter, Pine Bluff opened a 17-point lead with 5:32 left and the Patriots climbed back to within 10 at halftime, on a jumper by Parker with three seconds left, 37-27.
Parkview started off the second half on a roll, climbing within 3, 37-34, with 5:21 left on a dunk from Javon Franklin. By the end of the period, they had cut the Zebras’ lead to 4, 43-39.
In the “what-if” department, Pine Bluff will remember they had a 5-point lead with 1:43 to go after a pair of free throws from Thomas.
The Patriots’ answer was a defense playing as if possessed, point guard Ryan Pippins hitting a 3 with 1:36 left, then MVP Khallil Garland’s two free throws with 1:14 tied the game at 57.
Thomas missed a 3-pointer with 13 seconds left and Pippins turned it over for Parkview to send the game into overtime.
Parker started the overtime with a layup to give the Zebras the lead back, but the Patriots got two more free throws from Garland, who finished with 20 points, then got the lead on a 3-pointer from Rod Terry and they never gave it up.