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PHS boys basketball falls to ACC in opener

Somewhat similar to the football team, the Parkland High School boys basketball team had to wait a little while to play. One of the last area teams to open up competition, the Trojans were tested right out of the gate with a matchup against the defending District 11 Class 4A champions Central Catholic.

The Vikings (5-1 overall), which were playing their sixth game of the season, while for Parkland Tuesday was the season-opener.

Central broke a deadlock with a little over two minutes to play and held on to defeat Parkland (0-1) in a low-scoring, defensive battle, 43-40 Tuesday night at Parkland High School in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference Lehigh Division opener for both teams.

Head coach Andy Stephens was pleased with the way his young team played in its first competition in a while.

“We have a younger team, but these guys have been waiting for their opportunity and worked hard to get here,” said Stephens. “They were ready to go and it showed defensively tonight. I thought allowing just 43 points to a good team like Central was great. We just don’t even really have our rotation down yet so early in the season. Once we get a set rotation and learn a few more ways to score, I think we’ll be in better shape.”

There was just one returning starter from last season in senior point guard Trey Rolle. Four new players made their first career starts in seniors J.T. Siggins and Jake McLean, junior center Matt Rantz (6-foot-10), and freshman Nick Coval, who led the way with a team-high 15 points and was the go-to scorer down the stretch in his first high school game. He connected on three 3-pointers.

“I thought he played well,” Stephens said. “There were one or two shots I think he’d like to have back, but he’s a freshman and he hung in there physically in his first varsity game.”

Will Meeker also reached double-figures in scoring with 10 points, including two 3-pointers. Rolle tallied six points, McLean recorded five points and eight rebounds, and Rantz contributed four points, six rebounds and five blocks.

The teams combined for just 18 points in the first quarter and 35 total in the first half. Parkland led 10-8 after one and Central was ahead 18-17 at halftime as both offenses were inconsistent, but the defenses were on top of their games.

“I said before the year, and I know it may sound funny now, but we have great shooters this year,” Stephens said. “It just has to be more balanced and have more than just one or two guys on in a given night. We made the game competitive, and that’s what we were hoping for in this one.”

After a back-and-forth third quarter, the Trojans went into the final stanza leading 30-28. It was more of the same in the fourth quarter. The Vikings went ahead by their biggest margin of the game after a three-point play by Andrew Csensits put them up 39-35 with 2:47 to go. After Meeker hit a 3-pointer to cut Parkland’s deficit to one, Liam Joyce followed his one missed shot to give his team the 41-38 advantage, one they held until the final buzzer.

“This was a competitive game, a good learning experience,” said Stephens. “I’m excited to see these guys play in more games and just see how much better they will get.”

Parkland hosts Whitehall Thursday and then takes on the Zephyrs on the road Saturday.