Iorio leaves mark on Parkland hoops history
For the last four years, Parkland boys basketball head coach Andy Stephens didn’t have to think too hard about who he was penciling in to the starting lineup at one of the forward spots. From his freshman year until the final game of his high school career last March, 2017 graduate Sam Iorio was one of the starting five for the Trojans.
He was a staple of a program that has won four of the last five District 11 titles, and played in the last six district finals. He has also been named this year’s Parkland Press Male Athlete of the Year.
“Being the guy that came back as a four-year starter, I thought the way he played was admirable,” Stephens said. “It seemed like the bigger the game, the better we played. I think Sam and his experience was a catalyst for that.”
Iorio had to be even better than he was in his first three seasons combined for the inexperienced 2016-17 group to be successful. And he came to play each and every game.
Iorio averaged 24.4 points, 9.5 rebounds and three assists per game as a senior, while also becoming the program’s all-time leading scorer (1,892 points). He earned first-team Class 6A All-State honors and helped rack up 94 wins as a four-year starter during his career.
“It was a big deal to start as a freshman,” Iorio said. “It was a bigger deal to me that Jimmy Hahn and that senior class took me under their wing and accepted me. Everyone brought different skills to the table each year, and the thing that probably helped us every year was that we were all close on and off the court.
“Coach Stephens and I talk a lot and he told me [this year] I had to lead the ship, and I’d have a lot on my shoulders. To bounce back from a rough start (2-5) was huge. We had seven seniors so the leadership factor helped us get through.”
Iorio grew up playing in Allentown, for clubs like East Side Youth Center and the Salvation Army, before heading to the Parkland School District to play for SPYA in the fifth grade. Then AAU started before he even began playing in high school.
The sport of basketball was instilled in him at a young age because of family genes. His grandfather and father both played collegiately and are a big part in his success.
“They both have always been there for me,” Iorio said. “They’ve taught me a lot about the game, and how to play like a warrior and never quit on my team.”
That made it all the more special that Iorio was able to accomplish most of his personal goals at Parkland’s gym in front of his family. He recorded his 1,000th point during his junior season, and broke the school points record this past January at the HoopGroup Showcase at Parkland.
That HoopGroup game was the only loss of a 13-game stretch leading into the postseason that propelled the Trojans into the league and district tournaments.
The highlight of the season may have come in the District 11 6A semifinals at the PPL Center. The final four teams all had players that had similar accolades and skill sets as Iorio, but Parkland may have had the toughest battle as it faced off against the hometown Allen Canaries in front of a sold-out crowd of over 7,000 fans, most cheering against the Trojans.
Iorio tallied a game-high 28 points, and the Trojans went on to beat Allen to reach their sixth straight district title game.
“I love those hostile environments,” Iorio said. “I wanted that one bad. I had to play my heart out for that one. Everyone stepped up.”
Iorio now has his sights on having another stellar four-year career, this time, at the next level at American University where he reported earlier this month, and will be majoring in business.
“American has been with me from the beginning,” said Iorio. “I feel that I can play a lot there. The coaching staff has full faith in me that I can be a good player there.”
If it’s any indication from what Lehigh Valley fans saw of him at Parkland, American coaches did their homework. And Iorio feels he’s ready for Division I basketball.
“I’m going to miss Parkland a lot,” Iorio said. “Being at a high level in high school prepared me for Division- I competition. We were a powerhouse, and this year saw a lot of great players in the district.”