Cedar City • The tear stalled underneath Rhet Parson's right eye.
It didn't move as he continued wrestling the wave of oncoming tears welling up behind that initial droplet. He wanted to be strong, but fathers are proud of their sons, and on Saturday morning, Rhet Parsons walked his son Race off the floor, his left arm holding him tight.
"It's just in the blood," the elder Parsons said afterward, describing the family's endless love for basketball as well as the emotion that comes with that adoration.
In his final high school basketball game, Race Parsons did what he's done since he started playing on the wood-installed floor on that Little Tikes hoop mom and dad bought him.
He lit it up.
Scoring 36 points in his au revoir as a South Sevier Ram, the two-time state champion who ends his high school career fifth all-time in scoring in the state with 2,093 career points, didn't have much time to combat the onset reaction that it was over.
After South Sevier defeated Emery County 68-62 in the Class 2A tournament's third-place game at Canyon View High School, the No. 1 jersey Race Parsons grew synonymous for wearing suddenly turned into a giant tissue.
With hundreds of fans in attendance, with his siblings and mom, Kimberly, in the stands, with dad on the bench holding a clipboard, Parsons couldn't help but allow his heart to be seen.
"The friendships made and the life lessons taught," he said, his eyes bloodshot from the tears, "they weren't about basketball. They were about life."
The lesson Parsons endured Saturday was that no matter how much you love something, sometimes that love must take you in another direction. He'll play at Southern Utah University.
The same place dad played.
The same place older sister Jadie played.
But signing off on this segment will take some time. Not many kids come through high school basketball hoping to achieve what Parsons did, and not many have the work ethic to get as far.
"I accomplished more than I ever wanted to," he said.
A 93-7 four-year career is nearly untouchable. He was just the sixth Utah high school basketball player in history to eclipse the 2,000-point mark in his career, led the Rams to four consecutive Region 15 titles and was named as an Academic All-State selection.
"I definitely believe he's a once-in-a-career kind of guy," South Sevier coach Scott Hunt said. "We're not going to replace him."
After Parsons' quest for a third straight 2A crown was derailed by the eventual 2A champion Wasatch Academy Tigers on Friday night, one of the best scorers in Utah history laid in his bed, avoiding sleep at all costs.
He told himself how he wanted to end his career the right way: playing hard, playing with his teammates and winning a basketball game.
The end wasn't where he envisioned it. It wasn't on the court inside Centrum Arena laughing and celebrating with his best friends and family and the South Sevier faithful. It was at a high school gym on the outskirts of Cedar City where Race Parsons played his final game as a Ram.
"I'm just going to keep putting one foot in front of the other," he said. "I'll experience life. But this will definitely be a piece to the puzzle."
It is a piece that not only Parsons recognizes as immeasurable.
Following the win over Emery County, Spartans fans came in droves. They peeked around corners, introduced themselves and congratulated him on all the good battles over the years. They told him they'd miss seeing him play, even if it was performances like his 36-point effort that cost them the game. Some hugged him, consoling him as he continued to cry.
Once Rhet Parsons was informed of that, the tears began to well up even more. He placed his hand on the white brick wall outside the locker room at the prospect it would become an emotional stabilizer.
"He's a humble kid," he said about his son. "We've got a bad gene from me: we're pretty emotional … but that's part of the game."
For the second time in 12 hours, Rhet Parsons walked off the court with his son. Once after a loss, the other after a win.
Basketball is a way of life in the Parsons family, and as this era closes, another one soon will begin, but not before the years dedicated to himself and his team and his family and his friends are analyzed properly by Race Parsons.
There were the highest of highs. State titles. Game-winning shots. Bus rides. Wins and losses. There were smiles and there were cries of joy and of pain.
"The things I learned out there are things I'll take home forever," Race Parsons said. "They're a part of my heart and a part of me."
Neither Rhet nor Race Parsons could subdue the poignancy of the moment and neither could hold back their tears.
Utah boys' basketball scoring list
1. Gary Hill, Gunnison Valley, 1959-1963 • 2,283
2. Randy Reid, Spanish Fork, 1986-1989 • 2,191
3. Kurt Miller, Ben Lomond, 1983-1987 • 2,153
4. Mike Maxwell, Highland, 1975-1979 • 2,098
5. Race Parsons, South Sevier, 2010-2013 • 2,093
6. Robbie Reid, Spanish Fork, 1990-1993 • 2,032
7. Ryan Cuff, Richfield, 1986-1990 • 1,970
8. Jimmy Soto, South and Judge, 1985-1989 • 1,945
9. Kalen Parsons, Green River, 1997-2001 • 1,910
10. Sloan Sweat, Wendover, 1996-2000 • 1,844