Seniors secure second straight championship
Two years ago, the current group of seniors on the Parkland boys' basketball team went through a tough 57-53 loss to Pocono Mountain West in the 2012 district championship game.
That loss left a sour taste in the mouth of the Trojans after they earned victories over Pocono Mountain East, Freedom and Emmaus in advancing to the finals.
The Trojans were able to use that defeat as a springboard in capturing back-to-back district titles, including this season's District 11 Class AAAA Championship over Emmaus.
"It wasn't a good feeling, obviously," Justin Zajko said of that loss. "I was just looking forward to the next year after that, and luckily we got it done last year and this year. We're really happy about that."
"It fueled us a lot," Nick Rindock said. "We played a bunch, but it was like we were still learning. Our junior year, we really wanted to get that, and we were hungry for it."
The last team to win back-to-back district crowns in Class AAAA competition was Whitehall in 2004 and 2005. After adding their name to the list of repeat champions, it's safe to say the Trojans have moved on from that 2012 loss in brilliant fashion.
"This year, to get a repeat, that hasn't been done since Whitehall in 2004 and 2005," Rindock said. "People are going to remember this team for a long time."
"Back-to-back is one of the greatest feelings you can get for high school sports," Zajko said. "Winning it twice is just all that much better."
Rindock and Zajko both saw regular playing time as sophomores. In their third consecutive trip to the district finals, those two, as well as the rest of the senior class, lead the way against the Hornets.
In jumping out to a 44-22 lead after three quarters of play, four seniors (Jimmy Hahn, Nick Selvaggi, Rindock and Zajko) accounted for 40 of the team's total points.
"Us three me, Jimmy and Nick have played together since fifth grade," Zajko said. "We know where we are on the court. We're going to know what we can do well and what we can't do well."
Each senior had his moment at one point in putting a stamp on the game. Hahn hit two three-pointers in helping the Trojans to a 14-4 lead after the first quarter. Zajko then tallied four in the second, and during the Trojans' 19-6 third quarter run, Rindock and Selvagi each scored six points.
"Everything runs around the seniors, basically," Rindock said. "Everyone plays off of each other. Once we get going, it's tough to stop us.
"Any time you lose it's a bad feeling, but especially in a championship game. These last two years have been unbelievable. I couldn't ask for a better group of guys to do it with."