Upper Perk's J.D. Ricapito looks to take a shot from under the basket in Saturday afternoon's home game against Spring-Ford. Ricapito had a team-high seven points.
The Upper Perkiomen boys basketball team endured a brutal week in the PAC-10, bottoming out with a 66-28 loss to Spring-Ford on Saturday afternoon.
In addition to the 38 point defeat at the hands of the Rams, the Indians lost by 23 to Pottstown and 24 to Methacton, falling to 0-6 in the league, 1-11 overall.
Prior to Saturday afternoon’s game, with honorary captain and former head coach Jeff Huddleston at midcourt, current head coach Ed Lapinski was honored pre-game with a commemorative basketball for his first career win against Christopher Dock. As a player, Lapinski suffered through a winless season before Huddleston took over and made Upper Perk competitive again. Now, as a coach, Lapinski wants to emulate what his mentor did for the program.
“I know it’s hard,” Lapinski said after the Springford loss. “I went through an 0-22 season, I went through (another) losing season. My hardest part of coaching right now is getting kids to believe in themselves.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day. I keep telling these guys, ‘If you keep your head up, things are going to get better, I promise’. Kids have to believe it; I have to believe it. Sometimes, they don’t.”
Chronic problems surfaced against the Rams (5-1, 6-6) as the Tribe succumbed to full court defensive pressure and turned the ball over with distressing regularity.
After Chad Force scored the first bucket of the game, the Rams' Josh Dishman (16 points) tied it up with a baseline drive, and then it was a Tribe turnover leading to two Dishman free throws, another turnover leading to a pair of free throws by Daryl Branch (10 points) and yet another turnover leading to a bucket by Zameer McDowell (16 points) off an offensive rebound.
It was 8-2 in the space of 48 seconds and the Rams never looked back, taking a 23-11 lead after the first quarter.
Things got even worse in the second period. With Force and J.D. Ricapito (team high seven points) on the bench with foul trouble, the Rams scored 10 straight points before Josh Wynder put in an offensive rebound with about five minutes left in the half.
Those would prove to be Upper Perk’s only points of the second quarter, and, after another 10-0 run, Springford led 43-13 at intermission.
“I thought we took a lot of steps forward over Christmas break,” Lapinski said, referring to the tournament in Radnor during Christmas week where the Tribe defeated Christopher Dock and battled hard against Pottsgrove in the championship game. “And now it’s like we’re taking steps back again. People are reverting back to old habits. One focus is to get better every day and we’re not doing that right now.”
Lapinski also emphasizes building the proper attitude. Not surprisingly the team is lacking in self-confidence.
“Attitudes have to change. They’re giving up on their teammates, and it hurts a lot to watch that. You have to believe in yourself. Guys have to start believing in themselves. They don’t.”
The sliver of a silver lining in the Springford game was that some of the younger players on the bench got an extended taste of varsity action again.
“I know we are going to get there,” Lapinski said. “I have the kids who want to put the time in; it’s just they have to do it in the offseason. This offseason is going to be huge for this program, and that’s where we are going to see the difference.”