The 2016 Blue Mountain League championship series had a lot of familiar faces for Lehigh Valley baseball fans. Former local high school players ranging in age from 17-40 laced up their cleats in what proved to be what former Parkland baseball standout Nick Rabasco called “déjà vu.”
The Limeport Bulls came back from a 2-1 series deficit and took the final two games to win the BML title in a dramatic 1-0 game 5 last Saturday night at Limeport Stadium. It was the second year in a row these two teams met for all of the marbles, and the second consecutive league trophy for the Bulls.
There are a lot of similarities between Jarel and Jarey Elder. The two brothers starred during their senior years on two different District 11 Class 4A champion Parkland Trojans football teams, with Jarel graduating two years before younger brother Jarey.
They also both chose to attend the same university to continue their careers on the gridiron and in the classroom at West Chester University.
With the two summer showcase tournaments behind them, the Parkland boys basketball players had their eyes set on following up with another summer tournament title that they had won a year ago.
After a quick exit from the Stellar tournament, and a quarterfinal loss in SportsFest, the Trojans knew they were playing for one more chance at a championship.
Not a lot more could have been accomplished by recent Parkland graduate Siena Salvaggio. The two-sport standout was a decorated student-athlete on the court and in the pool. She was a two-time state champion in volleyball and a two-time state gold medalist in swimming, and was named the Parkland Press Female Athlete of the Year for the second year in a row.
On most good teams, upperclassmen see most of the playing time and produce most of the results, even though there may be talented younger players waiting in the wings.
Kyle Stout waited for his turn, and when the time came, he took advantage of it and became one of the more successful two-sport student-athletes to play at Parkland High School.
The Stellar and Sportsfest basketball tournaments are hosted a week apart from one another and are both at Allentown’s Cedar Beach Park. But the two tournaments also have some major differences.
Not only is Sportsfest a round-robin style tournament, but it has a number of different teams from out of the area that are not part of the Stellar girls tournament.
The Parkland boys basketball program saw itself in an unfamiliar spot two weekends ago at the Stellar Catch A Rising Star Showcase. The Trojans were eliminated before Sunday’s playoff action. Champions the year prior, the team had an earlier exit than usually expected of the Trojans.
But last weekend was a different story. Parkland was back to playing deep into the summer premier tournaments, advancing to the Elite 8 before dropping a seven-point game to eventual champ Liberty at the Sportsfest A-town Throwdown event held at Cedar Beach Park in Allentown.
With the growing phenomenon that AAU basketball is, the high-profile showcase tournaments, where players can be scouted by college coaches, have been a must-attend for prospects that want to play college basketball. These events happen on many different weekends during the summer months, mostly in July. That has hurt local teams from the Lehigh Valley when it comes to the two major basketball tournaments that the District 11 teams are able to showcase their teams and what they will look like come the winter season.
AAU basketball is not just a huge phenomenon for high school boys anymore, it has begun to grow more and more popular in the girls game, too.
That was evident in the Parkland girls basketball roster at the 21st annual Stellar “Catch A Rising Star” Showcase Tournament at Cedar Beach last weekend. Head coach Wes Spence has always had to deal with his players being multi-sport athletes, but even more so this year, he dealt with key personnel missing due to AAU tournaments.
One couldn’t tell the Parkland and Liberty boys basketball teams that last Thursday night’s game was just a summer league game. The two teams battled all game and into an extra frame in the regular season finale of the Stellar Summer League at Cedar Beach Park. The Trojans were the only team to score in overtime, and took the game 66-64.
Rising junior Jake Bartholomew led the way with a team-high 19 points. Senior Sam Iorio tacked on 16 points, and classmate Michael Zeky added 10 for the hot-shooting Trojans, who hit 12 three-pointers in the game.