Trojans beat BC in opener
It wasn't pretty last Saturday night in the final contest at Bethlehem Catholic during the 10th annual Yasso-Rothrock Christmas City Classic.
The Golden Hawks were hoping to open the season with a home win over highly-touted Parkland, but in the end, the LVC-favored Trojans grinded out a 57-53 victory to leave both head coaches feeling as if they went through a 10-round title fight themselves.
Nick Rindock (15 points) and Justin Zajko (13 points) combined for 28 points on the night to lead Parkland (1-0), while senior guard Jimmy Hahn connected on 8-of-10 free throw attempts in the final minute to close out the win for Parkland.
It was a victory that head coach Andy Stephens was happy to come away with, not only being on the winning end, but also seeing his team come away with a valuable experience.
"It was ugly and it was a grinder, but we got better from it," said Stephens. "We were out of sync and our scorers had trouble making some shots, but we found a way to win and that was a good thing to take away from this opener."
Parkland led 27-26 at halftime and went on to outscore Becahi in the final three quarters of the game following a 16-13 advantage by the Hawks (0-1) in the first quarter.
The Hawks struggled mightily from the floor in the third quarter, going 1-of-11 from the floor, but still kept within striking distance at 35-33 heading into the final frame.
Freddie Simmons led all scorers with 23 points on the night and pulled the Hawks within 39-38 with 4:09 left following an acrobatic layup and one sequence to give the Hawks a jolt of energy.
Parkland missed on its next possession, but the Hawks committed a momentum-changing turnoa fast-break layupssion, which led to a fast-break layup and foul by Ryan Keller to beef the Trojans lead to 42-38 with 3:24 left.
That small sequence added up, as the Hawks were in position to take the lead, but instead continued to fall behind by six following a put back by Nick Selvaggi to give Parkland a 44-38 cushion.
"To be where we were against a team like that, we'll be fine," said Hawks' head coach Mike Frew. "I'm happy with our effort level and all the minutes our guys gave us. Parkland's a very good basketball team, but I'm fairly confident with what we can take away from this one."
Simmons made things interesting by nailing a three-pointer at the 2:11 mark to keep the Hawks breathing down Parkland's necks and pulling within 44-41, but Parkland countered with another three-point play from Keller (11 points) to push the advantage to six points.
From that point on, Parkland held the winning hand, as Becahi was forced to foul the rest of the way. Hahn put the game away at the line and the Trojans walked out of Bethlehem with a hard fought victory.
"I just tell the guys it's a long season and to take each game, one at a time," said Stephens. "Hopefully, we can keep grinding away and get wins to qualify for the playoffs. That's when we want to be playing our best basketball of the season."