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Providence Argos Zaccheus Darko-Kelly, Parker Esary claim Frontier Conference honors

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Posted at 7:53 PM, Jan 11, 2021

WHITEFISH – Zaccheus Darko-Kelly and Parker Esary of Providence were named the Frontier Conference basketball players of the week, the league announced Monday.

Darko-Kelly, the Frontier's preseason player of the year, averaged 16.8 points, 11.5 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 2.8 blocks and 1.8 steals per game as the Argos started conference play with four wins last week. He's shooting 51.1% from the field, 38.5% from 3-point range and 100% (16 for 16) from the free throw line.

This is the seventh career Frontier Conference player of the week award for Darko-Kelly, who won the award six times last year, including a stretch of three consecutive weeks.

"You worry about how hard everybody has been working in the offseason," UP head coach Steve Keller said in a media release. "He obviously put in the time. He stepped right up. Obviously, his scoring is down a little bit. We got some other guys that share that load now. The second half of the game (Sunday) night he won the game with all the assists he had. It shows the player that he is that he scores nine points and was the major factor in the outcome of the game."

"If he's not the best player in the country, he's in the top five," Keller added. "That's why he's up there. He's improved on his rebounding, he's improved his timing for blocking shots. You see it in the stats. He's raised his level."

Darko-Kelly currently leads the 14th-ranked Argos in all statistical categories and leads the Frontier Conference in every category except for field goal percentage, where he's third, and scoring, where he's fourth.

Esary, who was also named the Frontier women's basketball preseason player of the year, averaged 19.3 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game while shooting 71.1% from the field. She recorded a double-double in her first game of the season, scoring 21 points and 12 rebounds to help the Argos defeat Montana Tech. Esary also tied her career-high Sunday afternoon when she scored 28 points to lead the Argos to an overtime win over No. 6 Carroll College. Currently, Esary is ranked third in the nation in field goal percentage (71.1%).

"She's pretty amazing," UP head coach Bill Himmelberg said. "She had to play her way back into game shape. She came back to campus in shape but game shape is a whole different deal. I'm pretty proud of the effort that she's able to put out."

"Parker is really big for us," Himmelberg added. "Having her and (Emilee Maldonado) together is just a one-two punch that nobody else in the league really has. It makes us really hard to guard. We needed her to be really special (Sunday) night and she was."

The 25th-ranked Argos split both doubleheaders last week, starting the season 2-2.

Both Providence are back in action on Saturday and Sunday when they host Rocky Mountain College.