POTTSTOWN — Coming off a 25-point outing from Paulius Zalys the previous night as they defeated Mercy Vocational, Perkiomen School had to be feeling confident going into its Tri-County League title game against Barrack Academy.
Zalys backed up his high-scoring affair with another impressive performance dropping 17 points and grabbing seven rebounds as the Panthers defeated the Cougars 57-38 and earned the Tri-County League title on Wednesday night.
"I always take the court and want to do whatever I can to help the team win, whether that means scoring or rebounding,' said Zalys, an exchange-student from Lithuania. "It feels amazing to earn this win after a long season.'
Justus Valciukas also added 13 points for Perkiomen School while senior Chandler Junk contributed 11 points and three assists.
"Our game plan for tonight was to stop their shooters and battle with their big men,' said Barrack Academy head coach Robert Kushner. "We did our best to box-out and contain them on the boards even with their height.'
"We've been doing a great job on both sides of the ball,' said Perkiomen School head coach Mark Longstreth. "This season, I've been really happy with the way we've played, so we've just been trying to keep the rhythm going all year.'
The Panthers looked to be in rhythm right from the opening tip as Valciukas scored off an assist from Junk seven seconds into the game.
Junk scored eight points in the first quarter including two 3-pointers to get Perkiomen rolling early on — outscoring Barrack Academy 16-7 in the first quarter.
"We knew we needed to come out early and have a strong first quarter in order to win this game,' said Junk. "Of course we had jitters, but we knew that when our team comes together, we can really play well.'
Shawn Martin scored five points early including a basket and a foul, to keep Barrack Academy close in the first quarter. But as the game drew-on, the Panthers struggled to compete against Perk School's height and depth in the paint.
Perkiomen School outscored Barrack Hebrew 11-8 in the second quarter. Barrack's Ari Yosef scored seven points in the quarter en route to a game-high 28 points.
"We knew we were underdogs coming into the game tonight,' said Yosef. "Still, we treated this game like any other game we've played in all season. Every game, we go out there and give it our best.'
At the beginning of the second half, Kushner told his team to "Let number four (Antonio Coleman) shoot.' Unfortunately for Barrack Hebrew, Coleman did just that.
In the third quarter, Coleman added six of his eight total points including two free throws, expanding Perkiomen's lead to 39-25.
"We came out in the second half and really felt that it was time to put the game away,' said Coleman. "All the way down to our freshmen, we all knew what was on the line.'
"As a team, we had one job to do going into the fourth quarter — win,' said Zalys. "There was a lot on the line, and we knew how important that last quarter would be.'
In the final quarter, Zalys added seven of his team's 18 points as the Panthers held onto their lead en route to the 19-point victory and the TCL crown.
"It feels great,' said Longstreth. "I know the guys are happy, they really deserve this. It's been a great season.'
For Coleman, a four-year player for Perk School, the championship win was his second of his high school career.
"This feels amazing,' the senior said. "I'm proud to say that I'm one of few players who have been here for multiple championships. But to do this my final year, I couldn't be happier.'
"I'm honored to be a part of such a great team,' said Zalys. "To win this championship in my first season is really something special.'
According to Efrain Rodriguez-Sierra, an exchange-student from Puerto Rico, this season he saw Perkiomen School turn from a team into a family.
"At this point, I feel as though this team has come together so much,' said Rodriguez-Sierra. "As the season went on, my teammates took me in as brothers. That's why we're champions today.'
With the win, Perkiomen School will compete in the first round of the Independent School State Tournament at Episcopal Academy on Friday.
Barrack Hebrew 7 8 10 13 - 38
Perkiomen School 16 11 12 18 - 57
Barrack Hebrew: Yosef 12 4-6 28, Meltzer 0 0-0 0, Reich 0 0-0 0, Martin 2 2-3 5, Kolansky 0 0-0 0, Ackerman 0 0-0 0, Turk-Tolbu 0 1-2 1, Barnet 1 1-2 4. Totals: 15 8-13 38.
Perkiomen School: Junk 4 0-0 11, Stoudt 0 0-0 0, Coleman 3 2-3 8, Longstreth 0 0-0 0, Larkin 0 0-0 0, Cruz 1 0-1 2, Valciukas 6 0-0 13, O'Brien 0 0-0 0, Rodriguez-Sierra 1 0-1 2, Crossin 1 0-0 2, Zalys 7 3-6 17, Sun 0 0-0 0. Totals: 23 5-11 57.3-point goals: Yosef 2, Barnet; Junk 3, Valciukas.