Rich Flanagan (@richflanagan33)
When Academy Park head coach Allen Brydges says his team likes to get “up and down” the floor and wants them to “score as quick as we can, then press,” he may be selling his team short.
Brydges’ Knights came into their Del-Val league contest against Penn Wood averaging 79.4 points per game, which has included two 90-point efforts and one 100-point outing. With a consistent combination of quick run-outs and forcing turnovers at half court, Academy Park cruised to an 80-69 victory over Penn Wood.
Brydges, whose team has scored 80 or more in four of the last five games, liked the complete game his team was able to muster.
“We didn’t actually have to press as much,” Brydges said. “We got them in the first half. We got a lead and then we kind of backed out a little bit. We still like to push the tempo with our defense and then just take good shots all night.”
The Knights had four players in score in double figures, lead by the dynamic backcourt of Nakim Stokes and Jawan Collins. Stokes posted a game-high 24 points to go along with two assists, four steals and a block while Collins scored 16, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out seven assists.
Nick Simmonds came off the bench to score 16, including three 3-pointers, and DeAndray Covert also had 16 to go along with three steals.
Stokes commented on his long relationship with Collins and how his team hopes to progress from here.
“We’ve been playing together [our] entire life, since second grade,” Stokes said. “We’re just going to remain focused and keep pushing. We were just playing calm. Keeping the ball at a fast pace to get up and down the court. Just [make] it an easy pace.”
Brydges was pleased with another balanced scoring performance from a group that has become accustomed to spreading the ball around.
“It’s great because every night it’s a different guy stepping up and doing that,” he said. “As a coach, it’s so easy late in games that they’re going to handle the ball and make the right play. We can’t be pressed with the three or four guards we put on the floor. In the way we can spread the floor and they help, we can kick and shoot the ball really well this year. We’re a matchup nightmare with all of those guys in the backcourt.”
Academy Park (14-5, 7-1) jumped on the Patriots early and often. Following a tie to end the first quarter, the Knights went on a 23-9 run in the second to take a 13-point lead into halftime. Penn Wood (8-9, 3-4), who was led by guards Kairi Jones (21 points) and Ryan Kelly (18), was stifled into 12 turnovers by the full-court pressure of Academy Park.
The Knights' biggest lead of the game came at 66-43 early in the fourth quarter following an and-one by Collins. Academy Park was rolling despite the fact they were missing jump-start forward Khyree Temple. The freshman, who had scored 78 points in the last four games, was held out after picking up two of the five technical fouls assessed to the Knights in their victory over Chichester on Tuesday.
Academy Park now turns its attention to a huge matchup next week vs Chester who leads the Del-Val with a 7-0 record.
Chester took down the Knights in their first meeting, 66-59, but Brydges feels his team is ready and motivated this time, especially with the addition of Temple.
“That’s why we wanted to take care of business tonight so we haven’t even really thought about that game yet really,” Brydges said. “We wanted to take care of tonight. We have a couple days to prepare now. We cut it to three the last time we played them but we were awful in the first half. Their size got to us a little bit so we have a couple things we’re going to do differently. We have a little bit more size now with Khyree in there, and he’ll help us Tuesday night.”