Trojans look to resume tradition
Last season was the first time in seven years that the Parkland boys basketball team did not reach the District 11 championship game. Parkland had won five straight districts crowns and was in seven of the last 10 finals before last season.
Parkland finished the 2017-18 campaign at 12-12 overall and 9-7 in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference, dropping both of its postseason games. The Trojans lost to Bethlehem Catholic in the EPC tournament and to Northampton in the District 11 Class 6A Quarterfinals.
The Trojans are motivated to get back to the top and resume their winning tradition this winter.
“We scrimmaged Lower Merion and they have scholarship players, and we did well against them, so we’re excited where we’re at,” said 11th-year Parkland head coach Andy Stephens (267-114 overall). “Our team culture has been tremendous. But that needs to remain consistent through the year, especially as we go through adversity, which every team does.
“We were happy to make districts, but this year the kids want a lot more. These kids grew up watching the championship teams. We didn’t make it last year, so they want to get it back. We had great tryouts and it seems like the guys are having more fun. The culture just seems different.”
It helps that Parkland returns three starters, and three of its top four scorers from last season’s squad, led by senior captains Logan Rindock and Adam Klinger, and junior guard Jared Kucharczuk. Juniors Nick Rappa and Jake Melady both played extensive minutes last season along with senior Ian Dashukewich.
Unlike with some of Stephens’ teams in the past, this year’s team features a lot of height. Ten of the 12 rostered players stand at least 6-feet or taller, including five that are at least 6-foot-4 or taller.
“So far our team culture has been tremendous,” Stephens said. “That needs to be consistent as we go through adversity as inevitably every team does. We also have good height. They are generally high-IQ players with a solid work ethic.”
Seniors Gabe Khalife, John Panny and Gordo Rolle, along with juniors Vinny Gerbasio, Chris Lessel and Dylan Rhoads round out the Trojans’ varsity roster.
“We need to continue to build up confidence as we will be competing with some very good teams this season,” said Stephens. “We missed out on the district final last year. The kids are hungry to get back there. It’s a huge goal of theirs.”
Parkland opens up in the Jeff Dailey Memorial Tournament at Notre Dame (Green Pond) this Friday night. The Trojans travel to rival Emmaus on Tuesday to open up conference play.