A year after seizure scare, Parsons becomes fearless force for GS boys
When he looks back at last basketball season, Dante Parsons said he remembers two things most: one, the WPIAL playoff game in which he and his Greensburg Salem teammates played and, two, the exciting game the Golden Lions played against Jeannette in their Christmas tournament.
Greensburg Salem lost both games.
The seizure he had last January during a home game against Highlands is all but forgotten.
But that led to a win for Parsons.
“I just remember a few plays (from the first half of the game) and then waking up in an ambulance,” the junior guard said. “It’s not really something I think about much.”
Parsons collapsed and convulsed after falling backward behind the team bench when he had a grand mal seizure. He bit his tongue, “zoned out,” and spent a few hours at Children’s Hospital before returning home the same night.
Parsons quickly restored order, though, returning to the starting lineup just a few days later.
His condition settled with the help of medication, and no seizures have occurred since. In the meantime, Parsons has become a fearless scorer and team leader for the Golden Lions, his health scare giving him perspective and determination, a sharper focus on daily life, basketball and the marriage of the two.
Watch him play, and you see a steely eyed, unflappable backcourt player who bounces back with each new play, each possession.
Quietly, he rings up the points and helps keep the Golden Lions (8-9, 3-6) in games, particularly in the grind of Section 1-5A.
Greensburg Salem is in the thick of the WPIAL playoff chase with three section games to play.
“He doesn’t let anything affect him,” Greensburg Salem coach Mark Zahorchak said. “He keeps his emotions in check. If he has a bad first half, he puts it aside quickly and moves on.”
Barely 6-foot, Parsons doesn’t have the athletic build of many of his counterparts, yet the slight-but-sturdy guard still gets to the rim, pulls up in transition or steps back for 3 to get the Golden Lions a basket when they most need one.
Parsons averages 16 points while also providing three rebounds, three assists and nearly two steals a game.
“I have worked to be able to (score),” he said. “And when I get double-teamed, I can kick it out to our other guys. I just try to stay locked in and eliminate distractions.”
Zahorchak said Parsons is crafty in the way he scores — and plays the game.
“You look up and see he has six points,” the coach said. “Then you look again and he has 16. And he is a sneaky-good rebounder and usually ends up with a lot of steals.”
Parsons had backcourt chemistry with 1,000-point scorer Marvel McGowan, who graduated last year and is playing at West Virginia Wesleyan.
Sophomore Christian McGowan, Marvel’s brother, has moved into the Golden Lions’ rotation and formed similar cohesiveness.
“He and Christian work really well together,” Zahorchak said. “Those guys push it for us and feed off each other.”
Parsons has blended well with a guard-oriented lineup that also includes senior Jack Oberdorf, juniors Ryan Thomas, Shamar McCoy and Cavan Trout, and others.
McCoy is an athletic, 6-3 forward who gives the Golden Lions a post presence. Oberdorf, Thomas and Trout are additional shooters.
The recent departure of a few players trimmed the roster to 10, so Greensburg Salem had to retake inventory and move on.
“We need other guys to step up with those guys gone,” Parsons said. “We’re actually more of a defensive team. That transitions to offense and slows other teams down.”
But not much can do the same to Parsons.
Bill Beckner is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bill at [email protected] or via Twitter @BillBeckner.