Vikes are too much for short-handed Parkland
The highly anticipated game that was circled on the calendars of players, coaches, and fans of Parkland and Central Catholic finished in a lopsided victory.
The Trojans (14-3 overall, 7-3 Lehigh Valley Conference) were playing without leading scorer and rebounder Nick Rindock, who suffered a sprained ankle in the Hoop Group Showcase Sunday. Rindock was in a walking boot and is expected back sometime next week.
Although the senior was sitting at the front of the bench motivating his teammates, losing his size and scoring hurt Parkland.
Fellow seniors Justin Zajko (19 points) and Jimmy Hahn (16 points), along with freshman Sam Iorio (12 points) did their parts to keep their team close, but the Vikings (17-0 overall, 10-0 LVC) proved to be too much and showed why they are the No. 3 ranked Class AAA team in the state, taking down the Trojans 77-63 at Rockne Hall Tuesday night.
"I thought our kids played hard and actually, pretty well, especially considering we were without Nick," Parkland head coach Andy Stephens said. "It was a good win for them, but I am optimistic that we'll play them again."
Central Catholic led 11-5 midway through the first quarter thanks in large part to their 6-foot-8 center David Wagner, the senior transfer from Souderton. Wagner scored 11 of his game-high 24 points in the opening eight minutes. Iorio did a good job on Wagner, but without Rindock, the Trojans lacked the size and athleticism that could cover Wagner and 6-6 forward Jean Lee Baez (12 points).
What was lost in all of the big-man scoring, was all-state performer Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman, who was held to six first-half points (all in the first quarter), by the defense of Devante Cross.
Besides Wagner's career night, another transfer, Zay Jennings, prevented any Parkland comeback attempt, hitting four three-pointers, three coming in the first half.
The Vikings shot 62.2 percent from the field (33-for-53). Wagner, the game's leading scorer, was 10-for-13 from the field.
Even through all of this, the Trojans only trailed 34-30 at halftime, and were feeling good about the second half when they headed into the locker room off a Zajko three from Kyle Stout.
But Wagner began the second half with a three-point play and Central went on a 16-8 run that put the game away. The Vikings missed just four of their 12 shots in the third quarter.
"They played great and deserved to win," said Stephens. "We felt great at halftime with a four-point game. We were comfortable and then Wagner scored inside to start the second half and they started hitting their shots outside. If a team with that kind of talent is going to shoot that well, it's going to be a struggle to beat them."
Parkland had six different players combine for 10 three-pointers, but it just wasn't enough to stop the high-powered offense of Central Catholic, especially in front of the Rockne Rowdies.
The Trojans never got closer than seven in the second half.
These two teams may meet again in the Lehigh Valley Conference tournament in two weeks.
Parkland won't have long to think about this one, as the Trojans returned home Wednesday night to square off with Bethlehem Catholic. (That game was played after Press deadline)
The Trojans will remain home for another conference game against Nazareth on Friday night.