Pennsbury relentless on both sides in PIAA win over Parkland

SOUDERTON — Peregrine Falcons, diving at 200 miles-per-hour, totally overwhelm their prey with a blistering attack. In the second round of the PIAA Class AAAA boys basketball tournament, the Pennsbury Falcons lived up to their mascot’s reputation by swarming all over their Parkland foe and downing the District 11 champ, 57-41.

Parkland entered the contest ranked fourth in the state. Winners of 20 straight games, the Trojans featured a high-powered offense that had averaged 63.8 points a game. Their only loss came at the hands of Saint Joe Prep, 50-47.

As impressive as their regular season stats seemed, coach Andy Stephens’ charges were no match for the relentless Falcon defenders. In his post-game interview, coach Stephens summed up the game’s action, saying, “I don’t want to say we lost to a better team but we lost to a really good one. Their defense made us play a different kind of style than we’re used to.’

Parkland’s style certainly did not account for the Falcons’ aggressiveness. Pennsbury held the Trojans to only 15 first-half points. Parkland got only six of their 23 shots to fall before the intermission, by far their worst shooting performance of the year. The second half got no better as the Trojans hit on only six of their 22 attempts from the field. For the night, they went 4-for-21 from beyond the arc.When not being harassed by the Pennsbury guards, Parkland ran smack into the towering, shot-blocking presence of Derrick Woods. Cameron Jones spearheaded the Falcon defenders. Drawing the tough assignment of manning up on Parkland’s sophomore star Sam Iorio, Jones proved unyielding. Iorio, who had scored 24 points in Parkland’s opening round win over Conestoga and had averaged 15 points a game in the regular season, netted only two points the entire night.

On the offensive side of the court, the Falcons’ strategy seemed uncomplicated. Attack! Attack! Attack! Get to the rim as much as possible.

Pennsbury led 11-7 after the first period and extended the lead to 26-15 by halftime. Saint Bonaventure-bound Derrick Woods jump-started the Falcon offense, scoring nine of his 13 points in the opening half.

Though seemingly impossible, Pennsbury raised its offensive energy in the second half with guards Cameron Jones and Mekhi Bryant beating Parkland’s guards off the dribble and soaring to the basket. Jones would finish the evening as the game’s leading scorer with 17 points. Bryant would add 11 points to the Falcon cause before fouling out with 3:20 left on the clock.

Jones’s six third-quarter tallies increased Pennsbury’s lead to 41-27 going into the final stanza. Parkland did manage to make things interesting when they staged a 7-0 run with four minutes to go in the game. Sam Iorio sank two free throws, his only two points of the night, to make the score 46-38.

Bryant fouling out and Jones playing with four fouls sparked the comeback hopes of Parklands fans. Pennsbury remained focused however. With Parkland forced to foul down the stretch, the Falcon shooters proved unflappable. Thirteen of their 16 fourth-quarter points came from the free throw line. Cameron Jones alone hit on seven his eight trips to the charity stripe. He would end up 11-for-12 from the foul line. In all, the Falcons hit on 20 of their 25 free throws.

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