Cross, Iorio lead PHS to win
In the days leading up to their PIAA Class AAAA first-round matchup against District One's eighth-place team, Conestoga, boys basketball head coach Andy Stephens reiterated that this was not an ordinary eighth seed from the district. And they showed why last Saturday afternoon at Allen High School.
The Pioneers entered their conference tournament as the top seed, but lost their way and dropped in the rankings.
Conestoga played Parkland tough all game, but junior guard Devante Cross and sophomore forward Sam Iorio were too much, as their hot shooting in two different halves led the Trojans to a 53-42 win and advanced Parkland (28-1) to the state's second round Wednesday night against Pennsbury.
"It was fun getting back out there and getting the win against a new team," Cross said. "We've never played them and they've never played us so it was something different than playing teams from our conference we've seen a lot of lately. It was our best against their best and nobody knew what was coming at each other."
Cross scored the first seven points of the game to put the Trojans in front where they stayed for the entirety. He finished with 12 points and four assists.
Iorio made his mark in the second half, scoring 17 of his game-high 24 points in the final sixteen minutes.
"When Devante got it going for us those first couple seconds, it just carried over and gave us momentum," Iorio said. "It was a great start for us and I just tried to pick it up from where we left off at halftime. He had open shots early and then found me for open shots late, and it just worked out well in the end."
The Trojans were up nine before Conestoga scored their first point, but the Pioneers finished the quarter on an 8-2 run. The Trojans turned it on in the second quarter, with a pair of three-pointers from Iorio and Kyle Stout, and four points each from Cross and Kenny Yeboah to take a 28-18 into the locker room.
But in a back-and-forth third quarter, Parkland saw two 10 point leads deteriorate to just a 39-35 edge heading into the final quarter.
That is when Iorio took over. The sophomore hit two consecutive three-pointers and the Trojans' defense stood firm to prevent any late comebacks by the Pioneers.
"They switched a lot on defense, which gave us a lot of mismatches," said Iorio. "I found some open looks and was able to hit them. It's a nice win, but now every game moving forward is going to be tough like this one. We're looking forward to it."
Parkland advanced to a second-round game against Pennsbury, the District One third-place team that has a record of 24-6 after beating Cedar Cliff 73-53 in the first round of states. That game was played Wednesday, after Press deadline. See next week's issue for results.
A second-round win would put the Trojans in Saturday's state quarterinfals against either Cedar Crest (27-3, second place in District 3) or Roman Catholic (25-2, first place in District 12).