PARK CITY — Fear The Beard?
Not so much.
“Fear The Socks,” Barton Community College head men’s basketball coach Craig Fletchall said of bearded freshman guard Turon Parker, whose fluorescent-looking green socks bear a resemblance to Baylor’s bright color of uniforms the Bears broke out at the Big 12 Tournament against Kansas State last Thursday.
Heck, perhaps they stole Parker’s idea, but highly unlikely. After all, Parker wore the same socks in the NJCAA Region VI opener against Neosho County last Wednesday night at Kirkman Activity Center.
“I went to Hibbett Sports (in Great Bend) to get some tights one day and I saw the socks,” Parker said. “I thought to myself, ‘Why not wear them? It was the final regular-season home game, the first playoff game, so why not wear them?’
“My teammates call me out on it a little bit, but they told me, ‘If you play good, we’ll all wear them the next game.’ ”
Parker knocked down 4 of 7 3-pointers and finished with 16 points in the Cougars’ 95-73 win over Neosho County. “I came out and hit three 3s in a row and my teammates said that we’re all going to wear them for the next game.”
Sure enough, against No. 5-ranked Coffeyville on Sunday afternoon, the Cougars, who play Cowley this afternoon at 5 p.m. in the semifinals, came out decked out in those bright socks.
After Barton fell behind 11-1, Parker helped spearhead a momentum-seizing rally, scoring 10 straight points on a 3-pointer, a three-point play and a pair of driving layups, as the Cougars held off the Ravens for a 68-64 victory.
Someone said that Baylor’s players looked like human highlighters. Well, perhaps those Barton socks were the caps for the highlighters, even though they were on the Cougars’ feet.
“It’s very weird,” Parker said. “The next day, I saw Baylor with them on and I said, ‘Wow, I feel like I’m copying them.’ ”
Yet Parker did it first.
Barton sophomore power forward Dwayne Brunson, who finished with 14 point, a game-high 14 rebounds and a game-most eight reboundnds, narrowly missing a triple-double, even came up with a new nickname for the Cougars.
“It just a team thing,” said Brunson, a native New Yorker (Queens). “We’re calling ourselves The Gang Green Gang.”
It was also a big moment for Parker in that his family flew in from Canton, Ohio, for the regional, just like last Wednesday when sophomore Carl Wallace’s grandparents surprised him by flying in from Philadelphia to watch his final home game.
“My parents being here helped me a lot,” Parker said. “It gave me more energy, and I wanted to show my folks that I’ve come a long ways, putting in work and getting better.
“I’m here for them, and I want to represent them well.”
Wallace, like Parker, also wears a beard.
“Everybody can’t grow a beard,” Wallace said. “But we want more. We want two more games. We want a championship.”
The feverish pace was evident against Coffeyville, not even a pace the Ravens were accustomed to.
“This was the most competitive game we’ve played all year,” Brunson said.
Parker added: “Coach just told us to keep our feet on the pedal.”
Electric guard Algie Key, a native of Dectur, Ga., who was named as the Jayhawk West freshman of the year late last week, spoke about his accolades.
“It was real humbling,” Key said. “I was humble to get it and I was pleased. I thought I did real well this year and I guess the coaches thought so, too.
“I wouldn’t have gotten that award without my teammates. They helped me get it, so I’m thankful for them, too.”