KIRKWOOD • Trailing by nine points early in the third quarter, the Kirkwood boys basketball team flipped the switch and pulled away from Parkway North to win 68-65 Tueday night at home.
Clark Randall came off the bench to score a game-high 19 points, and guard Ben Crancer added 17 for Kirkwood. Antonio Weston and Myles Artis each had 11 for the Pioneers, who improved to 14-9 overall and 4-0 in Suburban South Conference.
"It took us awhile to make adjustments," Kirkwood coach Bill Gunn said. "The kids kept battling, and finally in the third quarter we got some stops and knocked down some shots that gave us a spring in our step and we carried it back on the defensive end of the floor."
It was the third loss in the four games for the Vikings, who fell to 16-6 and 2-3. Darrell Johnson led all scorers with 21 points, and Aaron Hines added 14.
The Pioneers use an eight-player rotation, and most of the eight delivered a clutch bucker -- or several -- during the second-half comeback.
"I feel like we can play like that all of the time if we really push ourselves," Crancer said. "We can play as good as we want to play."
Johnson and Hines were nearly unstoppable in the first half for Parkway North.
Hines scored seven points in the first quarter as the Vikings built a 21-16 advantage. The 6-foot-8 Johnson took over in the second quarter. His basket and foul shot put Parkway North ahead 28-22 with 4 minutes 24 seconds left in the half. Kirkwood scrambled to within a point, but Hines buried a 3-pointer and Johnson slammed home a dunk for his 14th point of the half and Parkway North was up 34-29.
Parkway North led 39-33 when Randall and the Pioneers finally got the offense clicking. Randall buried a pair of 3-pointers and another field goal to highlight a 15-5 run. Crancer capped the third-quarter outburst with a trey that gave Kirkwood a 48-44 lead going into the fourth quarter.
"Any time I come off the bench, I just try to bring a spark," Randall said. "I know coming in that I have to shoot, and I have to pick up quick points. Once you get on a roll it's real easy. It gets contagious. We were down nine, and we decided we weren't going to lie down."
The win Tuesday keeps the Pioneers' hopes of a league title alive. Friday, Kirkwood will play at Webster Groves (19-4, 5-0), which has won 78 Suburban South games in a row and boast one of the area's best players in guard Rayshawn Simmons.
"You can't let him get in the paint," Randall said. "Once he gets in the paint it's boom ... assist after assist. You just have to contain him. I'm sure coach will have something planned up."