It was an all-too familiar scene for Jared Krupp and his Upper Perkiomen boys basketball team.
On the road last Friday night at Perkiomen Valley, the Indians got off to a slow start and were forced to play catch-up thereafter. The Indians held their own in the second half, but the gap proved too much to overcome as PV prevailed, 64-39.
Perk Valley (5-4, 7-8), which notched its fourth straight win, got out to an 18-8 first-quarter lead that ballooned into a 40-15 spread at the half.
The main culprit behind the Vikings’ solid play was Tyler Krause. Krause notched 16 of his game-high 26 points in the first half and pulled down six rebounds in the first quarter. Sean Moriarity notched 12 points and Purnell Wilson finished in double figures as well with 11.
The Indians (0-9, 1-14) didn’t share the early success that Perk Valley enjoyed. In the first half, Upper Perk was limited to 6-for-25 shooting and committed eight turnovers, six of which came in the first quarter alone.
“We had another game where we came out flat, and had to dig ourselves out of a hole early,” said Upper Perk first-year head coach Krupp. “What we need to do is play four quarters of high-intensity, composed basketball.
“We need to match the intensity of the other team right out of the gate, and we didn’t do that against PV. But give PV a lot of credit: Krause played a great game and Wilson and Clemons are very solid ball players.”
While Krupp had some criticism for the way the Tribe played in the first half, he also had a lot of praise to spread around for the second-half effort. Upper Perk settled down in the second half to match Perk Valley’s scoring, 24-24, in the third and fourth quarters.
“In the second half, we played with more aggression and passion,” Krupp said. “We were pursuing rebounds, and attacking the net from within our offense. Frankie Kennedy and Nate Weinstein did a great job at crashing the boards, and that motivated our guys to play hard on defense. We weren’t pressing or forcing shots in our offense and that created a lot of scoring opportunities.”
Another big culprit behind Upper Perk’s solid second half was Isaiah Stokes. The junior led the Indians in scoring with 22 points; rebounds with eight; and added an assist, block and steal for good measure. Krupp said what’s most impressive about Stokes’ statistics is the fact that he consistently draws opponents’ top defenders each game and still finds a way to produce.
Among league scorers, Stokes is currently in sixth, with a 16.5 points-per-game average. Owen J. Roberts’ Matt Crider leads the league with 23.2 points, followed by Spring-Ford’s Nick Stanek (18.3), Boyertown’s Ryan Corcoran (17.8), PV’s Wilson (17.7) and Pottsgrove’s Bryant Quill (16.8).
“His athleticism is unmatched and when he goes after boards and plays aggressive on both ends of the floor, he is tough to match up against,” Krupp said.
The Indians also got a seven-point effort from guard Matt Ruskey (three steals), four points from Kennedy (five rebounds) and three from Weinstein (four rebounds).
With only two weeks left in the season, Krupp said he’s seen marked improvement from the squad. The Indians will host Pottstown on Friday before closing out the Pioneer Athletic Conference season against Pottsgrove, Pope John Paul II and Phoenixville on Jan. 30. Three non-league games will conclude the season in three away games at Palisades, Perkiomen and Kutztown, respectively.
“Our guys see our mistakes and we build from them,” Krupp said. “Every day in practice I see improvement, and that has always been a goal of ours, to get better every day. A solid finish would be great. It will give the boys a greater sense of accomplishment; however, the real measure of success is to look where you came from and see how much you have grown from there.
“Even though our record is not impressive, we are a different team than we were in November, and that growth is rewarding.”