Courier sports staff
Prior to Tuesday night, WACO head coach Bob Hilmer was the only man in the 700-win club among Iowa high school basketball coaches.
Now, Hilmer has company.
Van Buren head coach Fred Parsons became just the second man in state history to win 700 games as a high school boys basketball coach. The 52-year leader of prep basketball in Van Buren County earned that milestone victory as the Warriors wrapped up a winning season in Southeast Iowa Superconference south division play with a 76-26 win over MSAE.
“It’s been a lot of bus rides to get here,” Parsons joked after 1,149th game as a head coach. “It’s exciting and it’s a tribute to the kids I’ve coached. All my career has been in Van Buren County. I’m appreciative of the fact they’ve let me stay around this long to achieve this milestone.”
The Warriors left little doubt that their final home game of the regular season would be special for more then being senior night. Van Buren scored 31 points in the opening eight minutes and built a 54-9 lead over the visiting Pioneers by halftime.
“It was a big win for us,” Parsons said. “MSAE played hard. The guys really got out to a great start.”
Junior Thomas Fitzsimmons led the Warriors on the milestone night with 25 points while sophomore Garrett Saunders finished with 14. The win clinched yet another winning season for Parsons, who has plenty of those on the way to attaining a 700-449 career coaching record.
“You’d like to think that you can always have a winning year, but there’s also a lot of luck involved,” Parsons said. “We lost seven seniors and five starters off of last year’s team that won 17 games and made it to the district finals. We start a freshman, two sophomores and a junior this year.”
Van Buren is now 12-8 overall on the season while finishing fourth in the SEISC south with an 11-7 mark. The Warriors started out the season going 2-5 before a five-game winning streak turned things around.
“This group doesn’t have a lot of experience, but they’re a great group to be around. They work hard at the game,” Parsons said. “It’s a pretty fitting group to get this 700th win. There a lot of things we can do to get better, but that’s what makes this enjoyable.”
Lalith Pullapantula scored seven points to lead MSAE (2-17, 1-17). The Pioneers head to Columbus Junction while Van Buren heads to Highland for the SEISC Shootout on Friday before heading into postseason play as the Warriors look to get started on leading Parsons toward the 800-win club.
“I guess the next win would start the next 100,” Parsons said. “I don’t know if we’ll get that far.”
Van Buren 76, MSAE 26
MSAE 7 2 15 2 — 26
V.B. 31 23 16 6 — 76
MSAE (26) — Lalith Pullapantula 7, Avery Mullenneaux 6, Suraj Pullapantula 5, Bimba Shrestha 4, Kevin Wu 2, Rashan Anderson 2. Totals 11 FG 2-6 26.
3-point goals — 2 (Pullapantula, Roa). Total fouls — 12.
Van Buren (76) — Thomas Fitzsimmons 25, Garrett Saunders 14, Tanner Smith 10, Pedrick Garrett 10, Brandon Plecker 6, Will Mertes 6, Noah Whitten 5. Totals 30 FG 13-14 76.
3-point goals — 3 (Saunders 2, Whitten). Total fouls — 12.