This time of year is always the dullest for sports fans of any level. At the professional ranks, this is the lull between the NFL and the MLB seasons. In college, this is the period between college football and March Madness. And at the high school level, this is the time where a school maybe has a few wrestlers still competing or a basketball team fighting in the state tournament. It is a boring time to be a sports fan.
Unless you root for the Parkland Trojans.
Parkland has a lot to get excited for during these cold and bitter days as both their boys and girls basketball teams are still alive in the District 11 tournament and have qualified for the PIAA tournament as well, which begins March 8.
The boys team amassed a 10-4 record in the Lehigh Valley Conference and a 20-5 record overall to date as they made it to the LVC title game and lost to undefeated Allentown Central Catholic. The squad took the No.2 seed in the District 11 4A playoffs and faced No.4 Emmaus on Saturday, March 1 at Freedom High School for the district title (after deadline for this issue).
The Lady Trojans possessed at 12-2 LVC record and a 17-8 mark overall as they made league playoffs, but lost to Central 41-35 in the semi-final. The girls received the No.3 seed in the 4A bracket and battled No.1 Pocono Mountain West on Friday, Feb. 28 at Stroudsburg High School for the district title (after deadline for this issue).
Wes Spence, the Lady Trojans’ head coach, is happy to be right in the thick of it this time of year.
"I am very happy and excited for this group to have the opportunity to compete for a championship,” he said last week. “Our goal each year is to try and build on the successes of the previous year's team and try to commit ourselves to achieve at a high level each season. Our previous teams have set the bar high and this year's group has worked hard to carry that on and I am really happy for this group of girls and all that they've achieved.”
Another mark of honor the boys’ team has is their 66-62 loss to Central in that league title game, as the Trojans have come the closest to taking down the Vikings who boast a 26-0 record.
The Trojans are led by Nick Rindock and Justin Zajko, both of whom are seniors, but it is a freshman, Sam Iorio, who has been the secret weapon for them.
“Sam has provided rebounding, shot blocking ability, and another scorer to our lineup,” said boys’ head coach, Andy Stephens. “As a freshman, that is very impressive, but he has certainly reached the point where he has enough big game experience to not be ‘labeled’ a freshman anymore. He has really contributed greatly to our success this year.”
The Lady Trojans boast a group of talented and scrappy players, who pull out close victories. Included in that group are Erica Bross, Erin Bross, and Olivia Brown, the latter of whom was a 1st Team All-LVC All-Star.
“Close games require a team to keep focus and stay together as well as place players in pressure situations that test them physically and mentally,” Spence said of their recent nail-biting victories. “I hope that the close games we have played in recent weeks and the success we have had in many of those games will continue to help us moving forward.”
Regardless of the outcome of their district title games, Parkland will be represented in both the boys’ basketball and girls’ basketball state tournaments. That continued competition makes fans of Parkland happier as that will bridge them into the commencement of the spring sports season, assuming, of course, that the spring season actually arrives.