Parkland Press

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PRESSS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Parkland's Justin Zajko dribbles around a Central Catholic defender during a recent summer league game. PRESSS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Parkland's Justin Zajko dribbles around a Central Catholic defender during a recent summer league game.

Central knocks off injured Trojan team

Wednesday, July 10, 2013 by CJ HERMERLY Special to the Press in Sports

The summer months have been kind to the Parkland boys basketball team. The Trojans have cruised through their summer league, winning most games by a double-digit margin.

Last Tuesday night, however, Parkland met its match. Another hot team in Allentown Central Catholic outmuscled the Trojans to give them their first loss of the summer season, 44-32 at Muhlenberg College.

Things did not go well for Parkland. Playing without Nick Rindock, two other Trojans were forced out due to injuries including Alex Mitton and point guard Jimmy Hahn, who left midway through the first half due to an eye injury. This forced assistant coach Justin Christein to mix and match with his ball handlers.

"Nick Rindock not being here certainly hurts us," Christein said. "But those other guys should be ready to step in. When Jimmy went down and Alex went down, that was hard. Some of these guys aren't used to being on the court with each other yet. And Jimmy dominates the ball, that's what we want. It was guys forced to figure out their roles in the middle of the game. That combined with the fact that we were trying to get back in the game, we took some bad shots."

Christein called it a "good loss," however, because his younger guys were forced to play some high-quality minutes against a good team. Central, along with Parkland, is expected to be one of the top teams in the Lehigh Valley this winter.

"For us it would be a measuring stick so that we figure out what we need to do to get better," said Christein. "This was the first game that we were actually down all summer, so I think the guys panicked a little bit. We could care less about losses in the summer, as long as we learn from them, put them behind us, and get better from them. This loss was good for us tonight."

Nick Selvaggi and Devante Cross scored early baskets in the first half to give Parkland early leads. Mitton's layup put the Trojans up 8-7, but that was the last time Parkland led.

Central played without its duo of Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Jean Lee Baez. The Vikings used the strength of Brendan Wagner, a 6-foot-8 forward adn newcoming to the Viking varsity roster, and their pressure defense to force bad shots from the Trojans.

Parkland used four different defenders to try to contain Wagner.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Trojans struggled from the field.

Parkland trailed 20-14 at halftime and clawed back to 22-21 early in the second half. But Central began to pull away and led by double digits midway through the half.

"It all starts with us taking bad shots," said Christein. "Guys were trying to go one-on-one, and if you take bad shots, they get easy baskets. So it all started there."

Cross tallied a team-high 13 points and Selvaggi added six. Mitton and Justin Zajko grabbed five rebounds each for the Parkland, who will now set their sights on good showings in the Stellar and Sportsfest tournaments coming up these next two weeks.