The final three weeks of the regular season are going to be very interesting in Eastern Pennsylvania Conference girls basketball.
There are three teams – Bethlehem Catholic (5-1 EPC, 9-2 overall), Easton (7-1, 11-2) and Parkland (7-1, 8-4) – with just one conference loss and four others – Allen (4-2, 8-2), Freedom (6-2, 10-2), Northampton (6-2, 9-3) and Stroudsburg (6-2, 9-3) – with just two losses.
Keeley Coval has been on coach Wes Spence’s radar for some time, but she had to wait her turn to truly step into the spotlight because of talented point guards like Rachel Medlar who were ahead of her on the depth chart.
Medlar graduated last season and Coval took over the role full-time this season, just as Spence had envisioned her doing since he first saw her as a much younger player.
The annual New Year’s Challenge was held last Saturday at Bucknell University and the Parkland girls team swam its way to a third-place finish, while the boys team finished seventh.
The girls finished behind Wilson West Lawn and Hershey in the competition. Wilson West Lawn was also crowned the top boys team at the meet.
Goaltender Alex Lyon earned the win in goal as he returned to the Lehigh Valley crease for the first time since Dec. 1 after spending most of the month with the Philadelphia Flyers.
The key to Lyon’s success may have been the overall sharp play of the Phantoms’ defense, which held the AHL’s second-highest scoring offense to just 29 shots, 28 of which were turned away by Lyon in Lehigh Valley’s 3-1 win against the Charlotte Checkers.
The Parkland girls basketball team was looking forward to a trip to Florida to play top competition from around the United States in the 2017 KSA Pre-Holiday Tournament in Orlando, Florida.
The competition at least mirrors, and is possibly better than the competition that the Lady Trojans faced in their two opening games against Central Dauphin and Bethlehem Catholic (1-0 EPC, 2-0 overall).
The Parkland boys and girls swim teams competed in the Cedar Crest Invitational this past Saturday, with the Trojan girls finishing second among eight teams and the boys finishing third out of nine teams.
Governor Mifflin won the girls competition, while Emmaus took the boys competition with Southern Lehigh edging out the Trojans for second place.
The meet kicked off a busy week for the teams with three meets this week, including a showdown against Cumberland Valley Saturday at home.
The basketball season opened Saturday for Parkland with a tough opponent in Central Dauphin. After falling to the Lady Rams 50-35, things didn’t get any easier for the Lady Trojans when they opened Eastern Pennsylvania Conference play against defending state champion Bethlehem Catholic.
The game against Beca remained close throughout the first half, but the Lady Hawks went on an impressive run in the third quarter. What was a three-point lead at the half turned into a 17-point margin en route to a 57-43 Bethlehem Catholic win.
Parkland girls basketball head coach Wes Spence has a way of bringing out the best in players. Spence is especially good at bringing young players along and preparing them to play bigger roles on the team as the season goes on. That philosophy is one reason why Parkland is always competitive both in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference and in District 11 play. After a 13-3 campaign in the conference and an 18-9 run overall last season, the Lady Trojans will look to mix a new crop of young players into the rotation to compliment this year’s upperclassmen.
Because of a quirk in the rules, only one team from District 11 earned a spot in the PIAA Class 4A soccer tournament this season. That made the District 11 championship all the more important and Parkland didn’t miss its chance to gain an invitation to states, downing Emmaus 2-0 to become the district champion.
Josh Kiser broke the ice with a goal 17 minutes into the game to give Parkland early momentum. That was be the only goal that Parkland would need, but the Trojans added a second with just over 20 minutes left in the game.
Senior leadership is great, but sometimes, it’s nice to have a young player come through with a big play in a big spot. That’s exactly what Jocelyn Fowler did when she took a corner kick for Parkland in the second overtime of the District 11 championship and played it perfectly, leading to the winning goal in a 1-0 game.
Why let a freshman take such an important kick? It turns out that Fowler was simply in the right place at the right time.