Trojans win tournament
The Parkland boys basketball program wants more. The Trojans know they will be judged by who they beat outside of the Lehigh Valley in their quest for a 2016 PIAA state title. The problem over the past couple of seasons hasn’t been winning games in District 11. It has been the teams Parkland faces outside the league and district that have been stumbling blocks.
So in 2015-16 head coach Andy Stephens beefed up the schedule and added some high-profile matchups to help build his team’s resume and give it the experience of high-caliber basketball before March.
Parkland (7-3 overall, 5-1 Eastern Pennsylvania Conference) was 0-2 against nonconference teams before last weekend, losing to Roman Catholic and Archbishop Carroll, who are both ranked in the state in Class 4A and 3A, respectively.
But that all changed this past weekend with two wins against George Washington on Sunday night and LaSalle College High School Monday night.
Kyle Stout and Sam Iorio led a second half comeback as the Trojans took down the Explorers 63-53 in the championship game of the Parkland Holiday Tournament at Parkland High School.
“It means a lot,” Stout said of the victory over LaSalle, ranked sixth in the state 4A. “I think a lot of people have doubted us when we play teams from outside the area. We’ve been accustomed to that lately, but we’re not listening. We just go out and play hard and we’re starting to get used to the different speed and level of competition that we’ll face down the road.”
The Explorers jumped out to a 20-11 lead after one quarter, and forced Parkland into sloppy play, turning the ball over six times and shooting a low percentage from the field. The Trojans did not make their first basket until the 4:45 mark.
But Iorio, who had a game-high 21 points, Jack Dreisbach (10 points) and Zach Bross (6 points) began to bring life back to Parkland. A 3-pointer at the buzzer from Matt Paulus took back the lead for LaSalle 27-26 at halftime.
Stout, who was held to just two points in the first half, scored 13 in the final two quarters, and Iorio chipped in with 14 of his 21 in the second half.
“All of our emotions came out in the second half and we were fired up and wanted this game,” said Stout. “When the games are close like this, that’s when it’s the most fun. We love playing in games like these, and everyone stepped up their game more than ever.”
Parkland jumped to a nine-point advantage early in the fourth, but when LaSalle (8-1 overall) crawled back to within four, Stout connected on an and-one where he pumped his fist and seemed to fire up his squad. The Trojans used that energy to go up by double digits midway through the final quarter, and keep that edge until the final whistle.
With most of the roster back in tact from the football season, this team has begun to find its identity. The tournament sure will boost the Trojans’ confidence heading into the heart of league play after the holidays.
“I think this will give us a lot of confidence,” added Stout. “This was a different type of game then what we’re used to in the league, but that will help us moving forward. I think this is a huge advantage for us now.”
Iorio was named MVP of the tournament. Stout also finished with 10 rebounds.
Parkland is off until after the holiday break when it hosts Emmaus Tuesday night. The Hornets are unbeaten in the league through four games.