Trojans hang on to top ESS
Guard Jeremiah Anderson and East Stroudsburg South gave Parkland all it could handle on Tuesday night. And the Cavaliers nearly completed their comeback after trailing by 10 points through three quarters.
Instead, Parkland was able to do just enough down the stretch. It’s been the Trojans’ theme for much of the season—finding a way to win.
East Stroudsburg South’s Jasir Parker rebounded Joshua Smith’s potential game tying three-pointer in the final seconds and scored to get the Cavaliers within a point with two seconds remaining. The only issue was that East Stroudsburg was out of timeouts, and Parkland (9-3 overall; 4-2 in EPC) was able to hold on for the 59-58 victory.
“We’ve been finding a way to win,” Parkland head coach Andy Stephens said. “It hasn’t always been pretty, but we’ve been finding a way to win. That was the positive message I told the kids after the game. But I thought we made some mental errors and some turnovers. If we’re going to get to where we want to get to, that can’t happen.”
The win was Parkland’s sixth straight, but it was far from a perfect showing for the Trojans.
Leading 48-38 after the third quarter, Parkland watched as that double-digit lead slowly diminished. And it was in large part due to Anderson scoring eight of his game-high 29 points in that frame.
After Logan Rindock hit one of two free throws, Anderson scored seconds later with a tough acrobatic drive to the basket. He did the same moments later after two missed Trojan free throws to get the Cavaliers within 57-56 with 17 seconds to play.
Then, clinging to a three-point lead with 14.1 seconds to play, Stephens and the Trojans decided not to foul on the Cavaliers’ next possession. It turned out to be the correct move as time expired after Parker’s rebound and putback shot.
“We figured they would take a three-pointer,” Stephens said. “We were hoping it wouldn’t be [Anderson], but we didn’t want to give anyone else a wide open look either. That’s one of those situations where you can foul and put them on the line, or roll the dice. We usually role the dice.”
Jared Kucharczuk, who finished with a game-high 18 points for Parkland, hit two key shots to halt a Cavalier run in the fourth quarter.
After Anderson hit two free throws, and then dribbled the length of the court for another layup to get East Stroudsburg South within 49-46, Kucharzcuk had a response.
He first drilled a three pointer from the left corner to halt a quick 6-0 Cavalier spurt. On Parkland’s next trip down the court, Kucharczuk found space down low and scored his final two points to keep Parkland at a distance at 54-48.
“I’ve been struggling on the outside lately with my shot,” Kucharczuk said. “My teammates got me the open shots there, so I have to hit it for them. I think I’m going to be able to take it from here and help the team win.”
Parkland actually led by as many as nine points in the opening quarter and took a 23-15 lead after eight minutes behind three three-pointers from Jacob Melady.
That lead stayed at 10 points at halftime (35-25) and after the third quarter (48-38), but East Stroudsburg never rolled over with Anderson constantly producing eye-opening plays.
A drive from Anderson midway through the third quarter got East Stroudsburg within 36-32 after a 7-1 spurt to open the frame. He then hit a deep three-pointer moments later to get the Cavaliers within three points before Parkland built its lead back to 10 points heading into the fourth.
“He’s a very good finisher,” Kucharczuk said. “Even when he jumps, you have to stay with him. Even on the way down he’s able to finish, so it’s tough.
“We’ve been playing a lot of good defense lately. Against Easton we played a really good first half. And our teamwork [has been key]. We’ve been passing the ball together and finding open guys to get the best shot.”
Melady scored 17 for the Trojans, while Rindock added 13.
Christian Sapp scored all 10 of his points for the Cavaliers in the fourth quarter.
Parkland will host Freedom on Friday for a 7 p.m. tipoff.