Trojan comeback falls short vs. Allen
When Parkland boys basketball head coach Andy Stephens was asked if he thinks his Trojan basketball team is playing its best right now, the answer was quick and confident.
“I think we are, yeah,” said Stephens with an affirmative nod. And even after a loss, it’s tough to argue against that statement.
Despite falling to Allen on Monday night 62-55, Parkland hung with the unbeaten and Canaries, who are ranked No. 1 in the state, until the final whistle in an Eastern Pennsylvania Conference showdown.
The Trojans (14-7 overall; 10-5 in EPC) held a one-point lead in the fourth quarter before the host Canaries (21-0; 15-0) pulled away.
That loss to open the week at Allen High School was just Parkland’s second in 14 games. The other was a close, 75-68 loss to Linden (NJ) in the Hoopgroup Showcase. The team has come a long way since the Trojans started 2-5.
“We uncharacteristically didn’t shoot well at all and we were still in the game, so I think that is a good sign,” Stephens said of the loss to Allen. “Obviously we want to win every time we play, but sometimes a loss here and there can help.”
Sam Iorio scored 15 of his game-high 29 points in the fourth and helped the Trojans climb out of an early 10-point deficit in the frame. After Allen went ahead on a Taleek Williams (18 points) field goal to give the Canaries their biggest lead since it was 28-17 in the second quarter, Iorio took it upon his shoulders to keep Parkland at bay.
The Trojans’ all-time leading scorer poured in seven straight points to get Parkland within 46-43, and later took the ball three-quarters length of the court for a layup to give the visitors a 47-46 advantage. Williams, however, scored six straight points and helped the Canaries regain the lead and keep the Trojans at a distance.
“I think we are going to be fine,” Stephens said. “Just uncharacteristically we didn’t shoot well. We still hung in there even in that situation. I’m not happy with the loss, but I’m with our effort and happy with the fact I know we can play with any team that we play.”
Parkland, which is one of the better shooting teams in the EPC from three-point range and relies heavily on its outside shooting, struggled to make its shots from deep. Other than Iorio and Michael Zeky (14 points), both of whom each hit three three-pointers, the Trojans only hit one more from beyond the arc. If a couple of those shots found the bottom of the net, it could have been a different outcome.
Tyrese Martin, who added 16 points for the Canaries, was in foul trouble in the third and fourth quarters. Without him on the court, Allen struggled to pull away.
“It was a window, but sometimes when a better player goes out other guys step up,” Stephens said. “Certainly with him on the bench it looks a little better for us, but I thought they played well even when he wasn’t out there.”
Allen actually led 11-0 early in the game before Parkland was able to get on the scoreboard. That 11-point lead stood after the first quarter with the Canaries holding a 21-10 advantage, but Parkland pulled within four points by halftime.
The Canaries never relinquished their lead in the third, and it looked like they would hold it until the final whistle with a quick 10-point lead in the final frame. But Iorio and the Trojans made sure Allen got one of its closest games down the stretch this season.
Wednesday’s game against Northampton ended the Trojans’ regular season. That game was played after Press deadlines. The EPC playoffs are scheduled to begin Friday with semifinals next Tuesday and championship games on Friday, Feb. 17.