Lady Trojans beat Northampton
It’s not easy to beat Northampton. The game plan is to contain two of the top players in the Lehigh Valley in Jenna Rogers and Victoria Keenan.
How good are the two players? They’re both seniors and 1,000-point scorers. With that in mind, Parkland coach Ed Ohlson tasked freshman Kaz Kennedy with guarding Keenan.
“We’re just starting to see what she is capable of,” said Ohlson of his freshman. “They say ‘the sky is the limit.’ Her ceiling is pretty, pretty high. I can’t tell you how hard she works.”
Kennedy was working hard in Parkland’s 53-34 wipe-out of the Konkrete Kids Monday night. Just after the final buzzer sounded, Kennedy came to the scorer’s table to check on Keenan’s point total for the night. It was a good number: 12.
Holding Keenan to just 12 points is something that many teams have tried and failed to do in the past. Kennedy’s speed kept her right with Keenan step-for-step and the frustration started to show. Keenan often had to settle for rushed, off-balance shots, some of which she found a way to drain.
“It’s my second time seeing her,” said Kennedy. “I just watched her hips and I figured I would be fine.”
Meanwhile, Rogers came into the game needing just four points to reach 1,000 and she had to fight to get there. Lindsay Berger, a sophomore, and Kassidy Stout kept Rogers from working inside and held her scoreless through the first half. Rogers got her first basket with 2:18 left in the third quarter and a little over two-minutes later found an opening down low to reach 1,000 points. Keenan had reached the milestone earlier this season.
Parkland (14-7 overall, 11-4 EPC) came out strong and opened up a 9-0 lead. From there, the Trojans withstood a couple of Northampton (18-3, 13-2) runs that brought them close, but never got them tied. Berger exploded for 10 points in the third quarter as Parkland stretched a nine-point advantage at halftime into a 42-28 lead through three quarters. From there, Parkland focused on defense and held Rogers scoreless and kept Keenan to just two of her 12 points.
“It’s huge in a lot of regards,” said Ohlson of the win. “It tells the girls that we can play against anybody. We just played a Cumberland Valley team (18-1, 15-0 Mid-Penn) that is a lot like Northampton in that they are really good offensively and we held them to 38 points and lost by just one. I told the girls ‘if we can execute just a little bit better and be a little more patient, it will pay off.’”
Parkland shooters showed patience against Northampton and used strong ball-handling to work for the shot they wanted. Berger led all scorers with 16 points and Stout netted 12 points for Parkland. The play of young players like Kennedy and Berger has been a storyline all season and Ohlson credits the seniors with making the young players better. Ohlson predicted that the team would be much better in February than it was early this season and he was right. It might be peaking at just the right time.
For Kennedy, her first varsity season has been impressive and she is excited by the opportunities that she’s gotten to contribute to the team.
“I had no expectation to play on varsity,” confessed Kennedy. “I just worked my hardest. My teammates have helped tremendously and they’ve been through this and they pull me up when I’m down, so it’s actually been really easy.”
While Kennedy admits to having some nerves before big games, she noted that she was calm coming into Monday night’s game. “I just wanted to come out here and beat this team,” she explained.
That approach is exactly what the Lady Trojans need going into the playoffs, which begin Friday. They truly may be peaking at the right time on both offense and defense, which makes them a tough team to play in the immediate future. With the play of their underclassmen, they’ve also become a team that should be tough on opponents long-term.