SALINA - It's one thing to dream about pulling off a big upset, but another to go out and do it.
The Rose Hill Rockets did just that Thursday afternoon, roaring from behind and stunning top-seeded Parsons, 61-57, in the opening round of the Class 4A state tournament.
The Rockets came in as the No. 8-seeded team after an overtime win over Clearwater in their regional finals, but took Parsons' best shot in the first half, shrugged it off and handed the Vikings just their second loss of the season behind a 32-point effort from senior guard Koby Campbell.
"Going in, it's 8 and 1. People don't expect you to do it," said Campbell, who added eight rebounds to his 32-point effort. "We came in, we watched film and to be honest, all of us in our heads knew we could come in here and get it done. We came in confident and prepared, played hard and laid it all out there."
The Rockets had played one close game after another during the season, with 10 of them decided by three points or less. This close one - the biggest game of the season - went their way.
"It's surreal at this point," head coach Josh Shirley said afterwards. "I don't know if I've come to terms with what's happened. Down 12 (points) at half, these guys sticking with it. It's kind of way we've been all year.
"We've had some big deficits and we've worked through them, but yeah, it's tough to believe. It's one thing to get here and another to win a game here."
Parsons (21-2) did come in short-handed. The Vikings' all-state point guard Dariq Williams went down with knee injury in the opening round of sub-state play and his 12 points and 10 assists per game were missed.
But, even without Williams, the Vikings looked in great shape at halftime. They led by 12 (34-22) and senior guard Ezekiel Lyons had sizzled with 20 points.
Campbell had 16 points himself at the break and got plenty of help in the second half when the Rockets made their charge. Josh Hopkins hit a pair of 3-pointers in the third quarter as Rose Hill closed to three points (43-40) heading into the fourth quarter.
The Rockets took the lead for good (52-49) on a three-point play by Campbell with 3:35 left and Kellan Simoneau buried a 3-pointer a minute later to make it a six-point game. Parsons got within three points twice in the final two minutes, but not any closer.
Campbell, who could play either basketball or football in college, hit 13 of 24 shots. 13 of his points came in the fourth quarter. Simoneau and Hopkins came off the bench to score 11 and seven, respectively.
"My hat's off to Josh Hopkins," Shirley said. "He's done it in practice. He hit two real big shots for us in the third quarter and Kellan Simoneau has been doing that for us all year. We have complete trust in those guys and so does Koby. That's special for a star player to trust his other guys to make big plays at big times."
Williams scored 26 points to lead Parsons, but didn't score in the second half until 4:24 remained in the game. Campbell took his turn guarding the Viking senior in the second half.
"He's a tough guard and still hit some tough shots," Campbell said. "It took the whole team to slow him down."
The Rockets will now face the Augusta Orioles in Friday's 4:45 p.m. semifinals.
"This means everything," Campbell said. "I can't remember the last time we won a state game. I know Coach Shirley wanted it bad. All of us wanted it really bad, so to come in here and to show we're not just here to be here, we actually were here to compete and win. That means a lot."
The last time Rose Hill made the Final Four was 2006.
With the cancelation of the 2020 KSHSAA State Tournaments, the Rockets finish the regular season 13-10, winners in four of their last five games.
ROSE HILL 61, PARSONS 57
Rose Hill (13-10)—Barnhart 0-3 0-0 0, Nolan 1-8 1-3 3, Vrbas 1-5 1-2 4, Lane 1-1 0-0 2, Campbell 13-24 3-7 32, Evans 0-0 0-0 0, Simoneau 4-7 1-4 11, Witt 1-1 0-0 2, Hopkins 2-3 1-2 7.
Parsons (21-2)—Houk 2-8 2-2 7, Johnson 3-7 3-3 9, Lyons 9-22 3-4 26, Thomas 2-14 3-3 7, Smith-Reece 1-2 2-2 4, Swanson 1-2 0-0 2, Hickles 0-1 0-0 0, Jones 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 19-58 13-14 57.
3-point goals—RH 8-23 (Barnhart 0-2, Nolan 0-1, Vrbas 1-4, Campbell 3-8, Simoneau 2-5, Hopkins 2-3), Par 6-17 (Houk 1-3, Johnson 0-1, Lyons 5-13). Rebounds—RH 35 (Campbell 11), Par 40 (Thomas 15). Total fouls—RH 16, Par 19. Fouled out—None.