Parkland advances in districts
Parkland didn’t take care of the ball particularly well against Northampton in its two regular season meetings. Nor did it really utilize its size against the Konkrete Kids.
Both of those things changed on Tuesday night in the opening round of the District 11 Class 6A tournament. The Trojans (14-9 overall; 9-7 in EPC) outscored Northampton 18-11 in the fourth quarter to pull away with a 56-43 win at Parkland High School to advance to the quarterfinals.
“We worked the ball inside a little bit better than we did the last few times,” said Trojan junior Jake Melady, who finished with 11 points. “We got a couple more inside buckets. Our size usually benefits us if we use it the correct way, and I think it helped us tonight.
“We worked on holding the ball a little bit because a couple of times before we had the lead and we let it slip. Coaches did a good job preparing us for that. We worked on it in practice. It was good preparation.”
The win sets up the third meeting between No. 7 seed Parkland and No. 2 Nazareth this season, this one coming in the Class 6A quarterfinals Saturday at Allen High School. The Trojans fell to the Blue Eagles in the regular season finale back on February 6, 61-57.
“We got them one time and I think we can do it again,” Melady said. “We just have to play good team basketball. They are pretty big, too, so we have to box out and move the ball well…I think we just have to stick to playing our brand of basketball and we’ll be all right.”
Clinging to a three-point lead at halftime, Parkland pushed its advantage to 38-32 after three quarters. Melady hit his third three-pointer in the frame that gave the Trojans a 33-25 advantage early on.
Logan Rindock then found an open Jared Kucharczuk on the first possession of the fourth quarter for another three-pointer, giving Parkland its largest least at 41-32. The lead grew to double figures on a rebound and put back from Adam Klinger with 7:16 to play.
“It feels great; the win was the most important part,” Melady said. “I really liked the teamwork that we showed tonight. We really moved the ball well as a team. It’s one of the things about the guys in there. We share the ball. We have good chemistry.”
Northampton made it a five-point game with 3:55 remaining and once again got within five at 48-43 with 2:07 to play after Zachary Gula scored the final two of his 12 points. But Parkland was able to hold the ball for free throws and solid open looks down the stretch to pull away.
More importantly, Parkland’s defense held Gula and Spencer Cole in check in the second half after the duo combined for 19 points in the first half. The two shot just 2-for-9 for six minutes in the second half.
“The coaches just really stressed to us going over the screens, hedging a couple of screens, and helping to try and run them off the three-point line a little bit,” Melady said. “I think that really helped us.”
Melady and Kucharzcuk each scored 11 points for the Trojans, while Logan Rindock finished with nine.
Saturday’s District 11 quarterfinal game is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. as the first game of a double-header. The second game will be between No. 1 Emmaus and No. 9 Pocono Mountain West at 7 p.m.