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PHS boys look to defend D-11 title

The Parkland High School boys basketball team’s quest to repeat last season’s Eastern Pennsylvania Conference and District 11 6A championships took a hit last week when the third-seeded Trojans fell to the second seed, Pocono Mountain West in the EPC semifinal round at PPL Center.

Parkland had won both the conference and district titles last year and were hoping to complete the same sweep this year. After beating Bethlehem Catholic in the quarterfinal round, the Trojans fell to 15-9 overall. They finished the regular season with a 12-4 mark in conference and now look ahead to districts, which they won a year ago.

“We will bounce back,” said head coach Andy Stephens following the EPC loss to the Panthers. “That was a disappointing loss, but our guys are pretty resilient. We are all looking forward to the district tournament.

“We have had a pretty good year. There were a lot of highs and some lows as well. Fortunately, it’s a new start for districts. We consider districts our third season. First is the regular season. Second is the EPC tournament and third in the district tournament. Our fourth, if we make it, is getting to states.”

Just like in the conference tournament, Parkland has earned the three seed. It will take on the sixth seed, Northampton on Saturday night at Easton Area Middle School. The two teams met twice during the regular season with the Trojans winning both games. They took the opening meeting in the first conference game for either team, 59-40, at home back on December 6. But the latest game, on the last day of January, Parkland was taken to the brink and sneaked out of Northampton High School with a 38-31 victory.

“Northampton is a good team,” said Stephens. “We will have to play well. They play a certain style that can make it tough for their opponents.”

The Trojans will be led by EPC MVP Nick Coval, along with the seniors Matt Ray, Joey Gerbasio and Gio Escalona.

PRESS PHOTO BY DON HERB Senior Joey Gerbasio and the Trojans will take on Northampton in the quarterfinal round of the District 11 playoffs Saturday. Parkland is the defending district champ.