Trojans win first league title since '02
Before the start of the 2014-15 season, coaches, media and fans alike believed that the Parkland boys basketball team was the clear favorite in the new Eastern Pennsylvania Conference.
The Trojans followed up those high expectations by winning all 16 of their games in the EPC regular season. They grabbed a pair of EPC tournament wins to the league title game, all while taking the best shot from each opponent.
And once again last Friday night at Easton Area Middle School, Parkland (24-1) had the bulls eye on its back. But the Trojans proved that they are the number one team in the conference, winning the inaugural EPC title 68-53 over Liberty.
"The league championship in a good, big league like we're in feels really good because it certainly wasn't easy," head coach Andy Stephens said. "The target's been on our backs and I think our kids responded well all year and I think they responded well this week in the playoffs to step up and persevere the way they did."
League Most Valuable Player Devante Cross scored a game-high 18 points, and fellow EPC first-team members Sam Iorio and Kyle Stout chipped in 17 and 13 respectively.
The Trojans jumped to a big lead early in the second quarter, but had to withstand a Hurricanes run in the fourth, before pulling away late.
Liberty made a valiant charge to get to 51-45 with 4:46 remaining. A 12-2 run punctuated by a pair of Cross dunks finally calmed the Hurricanes.
The game was tied 9-9 in the first quarter before Parkland caught fire. Stretching from late in the first quarter to early in the second, the Trojans exploded for a 13-0 run, fueled by three three-pointers from Stout, and eight points from Kenny Yeboah.
"Everyone is going to have their hot hand throughout the game," said Stout. "When we move the ball, we're at our best. Sometimes you get caught up in the environment and the hype and you forget to have fun, but we had fun tonight. Parkland hasn't won a league title in a long time. We wanted this one. We worked hard all season and it paid off."
Parkland will now head into this week's District 11 Class AAAA tournament as the number one seed. The Trojans will have a week off to prepare for Saturday's quarterfinal matchup between the winner of Southern Lehigh and Pocono Mountain West.