Game on for Parker Bros.: Grand Valley High brothers Sam, John Parker help lead Class 3A’s top-scoring team

Jon Mitchell
Citizen Telegram Sports Editor
Grand Valley High School basketball players John Parker (left) and Sam Parker are the leading scorers for the Cardinals this season
Jon Mitchell / Citizen Telegram |

PARACHUTE — As the father of a pair of teenage boys, Scott Parker is thankful that he has one less thing to worry about when his kids aren’t at home.

“That’s a beautiful thing,” the third-year coach of the Grand Valley High School boys basketball team said. “I always know where they are and where I can find them.”

That place is the gym, weather it be the Battlement Mesa Activities Center or The Nest at Grand Valley High School. And those two gym rats — brothers Sam and John Parker — have helped elevate the Cardinals to the scoring levels beyond the high-octane offenses of the school’s great teams of the past. Needless to say, the gym is where they feel the most at home.

“We’ve been in gyms ever since we were little,” John said.

“I remember running around the gym at Moffat County High School when my dad was up there,” said Sam, recalling when he was 9-years-old while his dad, Scott, was a coach at the Craig school. “But this is my favorite gym of all. I don’t know why. There’s just something about it that’s just awesome.”

Awesome would be an appropriate word to describe the seasons the Parker brothers are having. Sam, a 6-foot senior guard, is scoring a Colorado Class 3A-best 26.0 points per game through this past weekend’s games. John, a junior guard, averages 17.6 points per game.

The pair make up half of the foursome that’s currently averaging double figures in scoring — junior forward Tanner Magee (11.0 points) and sophomore guard Gunner Rigsby (10.1) are the others. And all total, their overall offensive production has helped the eighth-ranked Cardinals to score 73.7 points per game.

Not only does that lead Class 3A, but it exceeds the 71.8 points-per-game average Grand Valley put up in the 2006-07 season, when they won the Class 2A state title.

“I guess that means we’re playing pretty good defense,” John said with a smile.

No doubt, Grand Valley’s up-tempo offense has been created by its defense. The team forces nearly nine steals — 8.6, to be exact — per game. On instances when the Cardinals get a defensive rebound, one or two Grand Valley players are already streaking down the floor to beat the opposing defense to the basket in transition. Magee is averaging a team-high 8.6 rebounds, with John averaging 8.1 and Sam averaging 6.3.

This year, however, marked the first full season that the Parker brothers had played on the same team together because of the age difference between them. What’s more, John, as a freshman, actually made it to varsity quicker than his brother.

The Parker family transferred from Coal Ridge — where Scott Parker was the school’s football coach and a counselor — prior to the 2012-13 school year. Sam, who was a freshman at Coal Ridge before that year, was subject to the Colorado High School Activities Association’s transfer rule that requires students to sit out half of that varsity season. Meanwhile, John, as an incoming freshman, wasn’t subject to that transfer rule and was able to play varsity while his brother played junior varsity for the first half of the season.

“That was really hard to deal with,” John said.

When the pair got a chance to play their first full season together, however, their on-court chemistry clicked thanks to all of the hours they’d spent playing in the gym together. Sam finished averaging 20.8 points per game — barely good for second in Class 3A — with John averaging just over 11. Their scoring production has increased this season, in part because of the added production of Magee and Rigsby and also because of their added experience, coach Parker said.

Grand Valley, and the Parker brothers, hope that can continue.

“We have a great group of guys here, and we’ve all known each other forever,” Sam said. “It’s cool to be part of, and it would be great to keep that going with a great season.”

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