Parkland Press

Sunday, February 25, 2018
PRESS PHOTO BY DON HERBShelby Staib drives to the basket during a recent game. Copyright - Don Herb 2017_ PRESS PHOTO BY DON HERBShelby Staib drives to the basket during a recent game. Copyright - Don Herb 2017_

Girls need win to reach leagues

Thursday, February 8, 2018 by CHUCK HIXSON Special to the Press in Sports

The Parkland girls basketball team is finishing its season the way it started, with a tough schedule. While the end isn’t quite as daunting as opening with Central Dauphin and defending state champion Bethlehem Catholic in back-to-back games, it’s certainly not easy.

Parkland took care of a tough Central Dauphin East team before a 46-35 loss to Nazareth last week. Games against Whitehall and Cumberland Valley went Parkland’s way, but the final two games on the schedule are games against Allen and Northampton.

On Monday night, Parkland (10-5 EPC, 13-8 overall) traveled to Allen and after a tough battle, suffered its third league loss in their last five EPC games. The tough stretch of games has Parkland in a precarious position for the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference playoffs.

The Trojans will take on Northampton Thursday in a game that was rescheduled due to Wednesday’s winter weather.

If Parkland loses the regular season finale to Northampton (11-4, 15-6), the Trojans would fail to make the EPC playoffs. They could be tied with both Nazareth and Allen, but would lose in the tiebreaker because they’ve lost twice to the Blue Eagles and lost their only meeting with Allen.

If they win their regular season finale against Northampton, both teams – and at least one other team – would be 11-5 in the league. However, the Lady Trojans would have won both meetings against the Konkrete Kids, which would put them into the playoffs. As many as six teams could finish with 11-5 EPC records, but Parkland would win the tiebreaker against Northampton and Stroudsburg to finish ahead of both of them for playoff consideration.

“Unfortunately, we’ve put ourselves in a tight spot, but there are so many good teams in the EPC that odds are that you’re going to lose some games,” said coach Wes Spence. “As good as Easton and Beca are, they’ve both lost a league game and most teams have four or five losses, so we kind of figured that it was going to be tough and you really need every win that you can get.”

Against Allen, Kassidy Stout scored 16 points and Shelby Staib finished the night with 10 points for Parkland. Unfortunately, Parkland didn’t have a way of stopping Kion Andrews (24 points) or Asha Talib (20 points).

“You’re going to have those nights where good players get their points and we just couldn’t shut them down. They’re two good players and the game got away from us,” said Spence. “The good news is that it certainly wasn’t a lack of effort on our part. The girls always give a great effort, so that’s not the concern.”

Even if they don’t qualify for the EPC playoffs, which begin Friday night, Parkland qualified for the District 11 playoffs a while back, so the Trojans know that they’ll have a postseason and a shot at playing in the state tournament.

Parkland came into the season with a number of question marks on who was going to fill in for key players who graduated after last season. Throughout the season, a number of players have stepped up and Spence has found some balance with this team where there is no clear-cut offensive weapon that the team has to rely on. Instead, they figure out early who has the hot hand in any particular game and get the ball to her as much as possible.

“I like the way that we play,” he said. “The only way that this works is if you have a bunch of unselfish players who are willing to give the ball up. These girls realize that even if they’re not the one getting the baskets, they can play defense, they can set screens, they can do all of those little things that help to win games, and they do that.”