Boys fall to Allen in EPC semi
Parkland High School boys basketball head coach Andy Stephens had nothing but good things to say about his team Monday’s difficult loss.
In a fast-paced, back-and-forth game on the big stage in the big city, the Trojans fell to Allen 66-61 in an Eastern Pennsylvania Conference semifinal game Monday night in the nightcap of a doubleheader at the PPL Center. The opening game saw Liberty defeat Central Catholic 60-53 to set up a rematch between the Canaries and Hurricanes in the championship game Thursday.
“I feel bad for our kids,” said Stephens. “They battled. We did exactly what we wanted to do and I thought that they played really well. They did great on both ends of the court. I feel bad for them, I really do. They played well enough to win this one.”
It was the first meeting between the two teams this season. The Canaries (20-4) scored the game’s opening four points, but the Trojans (15-9 overall) answered with seven straight and led for the remainder of the first half. Parkland’s advantage reached 34-24 following a three-pointer by Jake Melady with 1:29 left in the second quarter. The Trojans took a 38-29 lead into halftime.
Parkland opened the third quarter just the way it ended the second. It took its largest lead of the game at 42-31 within the first minute out of the locker room. But Allen finished the period on a 14-3 run to come all the way back and tie the score at 45-45 heading into the final quarter.
“I told our kids at halftime that they (Allen) were going to go on a little surge,” Stephens said. “I knew we had timeouts and were going to use them. We knew it was coming, and we still did well and weathered it. They made their run, we tied it back up, and it was back and forth from there. A couple of things didn’t go our way in the end.”
Melady led the way for Parkland with 17 points and connected on four shots from long distance. Both Jared Kucharczuk and Dylan Rhoads tallied 16 points, with Rhoads hitting three 3-pointers and grabbing eight rebounds. Nick Rappa had seven points, 11 rebounds and four blocks, and along with Rhoads and Ja-Lon Perkins, held firm against arguably Allen’s best player in forward A’quele Adderley, who finished with a game-high 21 points, but had to earn every single one of them.
“Our inside guys have been playing so hard all year,” said Stephens. “They pretty much held their own against anybody that we played. I don’t think they got the best of us inside and that’s a credit to our frontcourt.”
The Canaries then took a 50-45 lead early on in the fourth, only to see the Trojans rally to tie it at 55-55 on a Trey Rolle foul shot with 23 seconds left in regulation. Allen couldn’t convert in the final seconds, but seized a 59-55 advantage early in overtime.
Allen’s Nate Ellis, who came alive in the overtime period, scoring seven of his 11 points, took command with a three-point play to give Allen (20-4) a 62-60 lead, then added four free throws in the final 55 seconds.
“I told the guys I can’t make you feel any better after this,” Stephens said. “But we’ll move on and grow from this and you’ll get better. We still have at least another game to play and hopefully make a run at it.”
Parkland qualified for the District 11 Class 6A tournament that will begin next week. The Trojans will likely earn the No. 6 seed and take on No. 3 Easton in the first round.