Perkiomen sophomore Ja’ren Hampton attempts to get a shot off as he's challeged by the Collegium Charter School offense in last Thursday's home game. Perkiomen won, 51-42.
There were times during last Saturday's 46-41 win over the Christopher Dock Pioneers that the Perkiomen School Panthers looked like they were every bit the defending Tri-County League champions. There were also times when they looked like a team that hadn’t been together for all that long.
Whether or not the Panthers will return to the Tri-County League championship game for a fifth straight year remains to be seen, but if they do, it will be with a roster of almost entirely new faces. The only Perkiomen player who saw any significant playing time on last year’s squad is 6’0’ senior guard John Williams.
“Last year John was kind of everybody’s little brother. This year it’s like he’s everybody’s big brother,” said Perkiomen head coach Mark Longstreth. “Having John is a big plus because he’s the one guy who knows the system. We count on him to be a leader on the floor and he has embraced that responsibility. He has lots of energy and we’re not afraid let him handle the ball when he’s out there."
Williams, who scored 10 points, was one of three Panthers who reached double digits Saturday night. The other two were 6’5’’ sophomore Ja’ren Hampton, and 6’4" junior Justas Valciukas.
Hampton, usually off the bench, got a start against the Pioneers and, when he wasn’t pulling down a rebound, found time to contribute 10 points before getting himself into foul trouble in the fourth quarter.
“He’s rapidly improving,” said Longstreth. “He can do a lot of things, there’s things he needs to work on but he gets better every time out and that’s what you want to see as a coach.”
Valciukas may be new to Perkiomen but he appeared to be right at home on the hardwood as he led all scorers with a 17-point effort. “He’s aggressive," commented Longstreth. "He makes things happen. He’s always around the ball. He can score, and he loves to pass.”
It was Valciukas who put a stop to the Pioneers' comeback bid when he turned a breakaway into a slam dunk with under a minute remaining in the game.
Perkiomen shot 6-11 from the floor in the first quarter, which included a 10-point run. The score was 22-16 at the half as Christopher Dock kept it close by hitting 8-10 from the charity strip through the first two quarters.
The third quarter ended with Perkiomen up, 33-23. It reached a dozen before the Pioneers' Landon Leinbach drained the only three-pointer of the game. Dock got as close as four before the Valciukas slam ended the rally.
Perkiomen raised their record to 10-5 overall and are currently undefeated in league play. They will travel across town Feb. 6 next Wednesday to face Upper Perkiomen at 7:30 p.m. The Panthers last home game is scheduled for Feb. 8 against Valley Forge at 7 p.m.