Kelvin Parker must really like playing at Lancaster’s J.P. McCaskey High School.
The William Penn boys’ basketball senior could reach a milestone there Wednesday. Parker is 12 points away from hitting 1,000 for his career, and could get there when his Bearcats face the host Red Tornado in the championship game of the Hagelgans and Veronis Tournament.
But even that feat might not equal the show the 6-foot-4 guard put on last year against McCaskey, in the final of this very same tournament.
On that night, Parker dropped 40 points — including the game-winning bucket — in an incredible, 98-94 William Penn win.
Add to that point total his nine rebounds, six steals, five assists and five blocks, and Parker’s night becomes even more eye-popping. It was easily the finest single-game performance I’ve seen in person by a high school basketball player.
So maybe we shouldn’t expect something quite that outrageous this time around. A more realistic barometer might be the 20 points Parker scored in the Bearcats’ win against University City on Tuesday.
Then again, you never know.
To get you ready for tonight’s game between William Penn and McCaskey, I’ve posted a copy of my game story from last year’s shootout. If tonight’s game is half as exhilarating as that one, fans should be in for a treat.
By John Clayton
Daily Record/Sunday News
LANCASTER – In a white-walled hallway next to the gym at J.P. McCaskey High School, the two stars of one of the more breathtaking basketball games you’ll see shared a moment.
William Penn’s Kelvin Parker and McCaskey’s Leontae Turner had just gone step-for-step, shot-for-shot Wednesday night during the Bearcats’ remarkable, 98-94 win in the championship game of the Hagelgans and Veronis Holiday Tournament.
Now they shook hands and smiled, their mutual respect evident.
“How many you have?” Turner asked.
“40,” Parker replied, lips curling into a grin.
“40?” Turner said, his voice betraying disbelief.
Then again, there were a lot of things unbelievable about this back-and-forth, whirlwind of a basketball game in front of a raucous, almost-full gym in Lancaster. William Penn eventually survived a see-saw fourth quarter that featured three ties and four lead changes in the final three minutes.
Parker put the Bearcats up for good, dropping in a coast-to-coast lay-up with 25 seconds to go to give William Penn a 96-94 lead.
Turner airballed a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession, and Zachary Newby hit a pair of free throws with 3.2 seconds left to ice it for the Bearcats (7-1).
“This would be the third I’ll never forget,” William Penn coach Troy Sowers said, grouping the game with his team’s postseason wins against Reading and Central Bucks South last year. “I think both teams wanted it to be an upcourt battle. Luckily we just made some plays at the end.”
At the center of it all was Parker and Turner. The McCaskey junior scored 18 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter to help the Red Tornado take a late edge. Parker, meanwhile, scored the tying and go-ahead points in the final minute.
The junior guard, who took home tournament MVP honors, also added nine rebounds, six steals, five assists and five blocks to go along with his 40 points.
“I liked guarding him,” Parker said of playing Turner. “He scored on me a couple times, I scored on him a couple times. It was good.”
But this game was much more than a two-man show. It moved at a fast-forward pace from the opening tip, momentum constantly shifting as the teams traded runs.
William Penn built double-digit leads in the first and third quarters, only to see McCaskey’s climb back both times. The Red Tornado took their first lead of the night with 2:35 to go in the fourth quarter, when a long outlet pass found Turner for a lay-up.
The lead see-sawed back and forth, before forward Brian Newsome hit 1-of-2 free throws to give McCaskey a 94-92 lead with 36.2 seconds left.
Parker was fouled on the ensuing inbounds play and hit two free throws. He finished 12-of-14 from the line.
McCaskey then flung a long outlet pass that was intercepted by Newby. He shuttled the ball to Parker, who drove the length of the floor and rattled home a runner to put William Penn ahead.
Jevaughn Murphy scored 21 off the bench for William Penn, while Ryan Matthews added 14.
All part of a start-to-finish thriller. When it was all over, Murphy summed up the game in one word: “Shocking.”
“It was fun, though,” Parker added.