Boys basketball: Parkland uses balance to earn trip to District 11 6A quarterfinals
The Parkland gym was the scene of the most memorable finish of the 2018-19 boys basketball season — the game-winning 3-pointer by Justin Paz in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference semifinals.
But the host Trojans haven’t had a lot of good finishes on the same court lately.
They tried to rectify that in a District 11 Class 6A pigtail round game against Northampton.
Parkland held the Konkrete Kids scoreless for the first three minutes and 12 seconds of the fourth quarter and then ran off the final eight points of the game to register a 56-43 victory.
The seventh-seeded Trojans (14-9) face No. 2 seed Nazareth at 5:30 p.m. Saturday in the middle game of a tripleheader at Allen’s Sewards Gym.
Juniors Jake Melady and Jared Kucharczuk both had three 3-pointers and 11 total points and Logan Rindock added nine as Parkland beat Eastern Pennsylvania Conference Skyline Division rival Northampton for the first time in three meetings.
The Trojans once seemed a lock to make the EPC tournament, but lost five of its last six games and dropped out of the eight-team field.
That’s why the gym was available for Paz’s heroics.
“Not making the EPCs obviously didn’t sit well with us,” Melady said. “We just tried to put it behind us as best as we could and used it for motivation. It was a big motivator and I thought we played well and we played hard.”
Northampton (12-11) got three 3-pointers from Spencer Cole in the first quarter, but just two the rest of the way.
The Konkrete Kids showed their grit by trimming a 46-34 deficit early in the final period back to 48-43 with 2:10 remaining after a Zac Gula drive.
But Northampton didn’t score again and Parkland made enough free throws — 9 of 15 — in the final stanza to put the game away.
“I thought our kids kept their composure,” Trojans coach Andy Stephens said. “We knew Northampton was going to make a run. I have a lot of respect for [Coy Stampone, the Kids coach]. We kept our heads at the end of the game. Now, we have to do a better job with the foul shooting, but I was pleased.”
Stephens said the K-Kids’ five-guard lineup can be difficult to defend.
“Our bigs did a really good job on their guards and it was a total team effort,” Stephens said. “Any time you can hold the other team to 43 points your defense is playing well.”
A year makes a difference
In last year’s District 11 6A tournament, Northampton defeated Parkland 74-65 en route to the program’s first district final since the early 1970s.
The two biggest stars of last year’s Konkrete Kids team, Aidan Ellwood and Cory Weisenberger, were in attendance Tuesday night but they were sitting in the stands about eight or nine rows off the floor across from the Northampton bench.
While the K-Kids could have used the scoring punch those two could have provided, Stampone was pleased with his players’ effort against Parkland and all season.
“Everybody says it’s hard to beat a team three times and this is the second year in a row we played them three times and went 2-1,” Stampone said. “We fought right to the end. They shot very, very well and in the beginning of the game our point guard Donte Rodriguez got into foul trouble and that hurts what we do. He had two fouls with four minutes left in the first quarter and then we put him back in and he picked up his third foul before halftime.”
Northampton graduates only Tyler Gilliard and Stephen Ojeda-Torres and figures to be a team to watch next season.
“We had a very good year this year and we’re excited about next year,” Stampone said. “We’ve got a good coaching staff and we’re going to keep working hard to get ready for next season. I’m looking forward to it.”
Stat of the game
Parkland shot 19-for-36 overall and had 10 assists on its 19 field goals.
The Trojans split their two games with Nazareth this season, winning at home 68-62 on Jan. 22 and falling at Ray Nunamaker Gym, 61-57 in the final game of the regular season.
All-league player Stephon Sheard scored 24 points in the most recent meeting and 25 in the first contest.
“We’ve just got to try to keep the ball out of his hands,” Kucharczuk said.