Trojans defend SportsFest title
Coming off a disappointing blowout loss to eventual champion Wilson West Lawn two weekends ago at the Stellar Catch A Rising Star tournament, the Parkland boys basketball team was eager to show how good it really is, and ultimately defend the SportsFest title it won last year.
The Trojans came back to beat the Bulldogs on Sunday, on their way to a second straight Sportsfest tournament championship last weekend at Cedar Beach.
"They really handed it to us last weekend," said Justin Zajko about the Wilson West Lawn loss at Stellar. "They were a little cocky about it, so we really wanted this one."
What also may have helped Parkland is the different format of Sportsfest. The tournament consists of three games in pool play with the leader of each group advancing to Sunday's single elimination playoff. The Trojans were forced to play seven games on the final day of Stellar, but only had to play four games to win Sportsfest on Sunday.
The Trojans ran the table, going 7-0. They defeated Souderton 63-42 to open group play on Friday night, then had wins over Academy Charter (78-28) and held on for a 40-37 win against Haverford on Saturday.
"I thought the kids played great," said head coach Andy Stephens. "I thought our bench was great. A lot of guys played quality minutes. Everyone stepped up, and it was a complete team effort. They played great team defense. And I think more than anything they had the confidence that they could beat any of these teams."
On Sunday morning, the Trojans took down Lehigh Valley Conference opponent Bethlehem Catholic 58-46 in the round of 16.
Then came the rematch with Wilson West Lawn. The Trojans battled, and more at full strength this time around, were able to put the Bulldogs away 57-48.
Parkland then faced a familiar opponent in Ridley in the semifinals. The Trojans defeated the Green Raiders in the opening round of states last year. Once again, Parkland was on the winning end, 58-47 to advance to the final.
Philadelphia powerhouse Constitution, which rolled over Central Catholic in their semifinal round, awaited.
The up-tempo pace and scoring, along with great team defense, allowed the Trojans to defend their title and take a 58-48 contest.
Nick Rindock led the team in scoring each of the four playoff games. He had a game-high 22 points, playing through an injury in the final.
"It means a ton to this program and it means a lot to us as players to be able to win this two years in a row," Rindock said. "Personally it was always a goal of mine to win this and to do it twice is amazing. I've watched this since I was a little kid and winning this means a lot, plus it gives us momentum going into the season. People don't always give us respect, but I think this will give us some more and teams know who to watch out for."
Rindock was named tournament MVP, and Zajko joined him on the All-tournament team.