Boys reach semifinals
It was not like Parkland. Before last year, the boys basketball program had made it to the District 11 final and a spot in the state tournament each of the last six seasons. But last year the Trojans bowed out before the district semifinals.
The Trojans did not stay away long. They’ll return this year after a quarterfinal win put them back in the district’s final four this season.
Parkland took punches from Nazareth’s best player all game long in Saturday’s Class 6A quarterfinal, but used one of its unsung heroes in stopping the bleeding and taking down the Blue Eagles 64-55.
The Trojans (14-9 overall) were the seventh seed and upset Nazareth (17-7), the second seed, to join their next opponent in the semifinals, 11th-seeded East Stroudsburg South. The Cavaliers upset third-seeded Freedom 46-43 on a buzzer-beater Saturday.
Unlike in years past, Parkland has shared the wealth with a number of different scoring options that can change on any given night. The Blue Eagles, meanwhile, have had a dominant scorer take care of much of their offense.
He did just that Saturday.
Stephon Sheard tallied a game-high 35 points and was a force for all of the first half and a majority of the game. The Trojans had trouble stopping him and did not have an answer for the first two quarters. But then head coach Andy Stephens had an inkling and rolled the dice.
“We stuck Adam [Klinger] on him in the second half, and for whatever reason it was Adam’s night and he played great defense on him,” Stephens said. “Our help-defense started to play much better, which shows you how good our team can play together.”
Klinger stands at 6-feet, 7-inches tall and his length gave Sheard a different, uncomfortable look that he didn’t face in the first half. His production slowed as he netted just three field goals in the second half.
“We just had to increase the intensity defensively to slow him down,” Klinger said. “He had a good start, but once we started to wear on him, we slowed him down and found a way to slow their team down.”
Parkland trailed after the first quarter and was up by just three points at halftime. With the game tied 45-45 with 5:33 remaining, the Trojans connected from the free-throw line when they needed to most, primarily through the shooting of leading-scorer Jake Melady.
Melady had a team-high 24 points, including 8-for-8 from the charity stripe. Jared Kucharczuk scored 13 points, 4-of-7 at the line, all in the second half. Logan Rindock added 12 points and was 3-for-4 from the free-throw line. Klinger and Trey Rolle each added five points for the Trojans.
Parkland is set for at least three more games. It takes on the Cavaliers in the semifinals, with the championship and consolation game set for Saturday. The state tournament gets underway next weekend.