SHIRLEY -- Every team has its ups and downs, and the Parker Charter boys' basketball team certainly can attest to that. In its 18 years in existence, Parker Charter has not won more than 11 games in a season. The program had concurrent winless seasons in 2010 and 2011, a combined 0-40. This year's team ... has won 18. On Friday night inside a packed newly dedicated, Ron and Judi Dokus Court, at the Ayer Shirley Middle School, the Panthers achieved yet another program first. Parker Charter defeated Nashoba Valley Tech, 62-50, to guarantee itself at least a share of the Colonial Athletic Association league title.
The Panthers followed the lead of senior Will Bryant, who finished with a team-high 15 points and 10 rebounds. Jesse Levines and Kyle McNamara both scored both chimed in with 12 points each. Parker Charter out-rebounded the Vikings, 38-26.
"We have some height, and we have out-rebounded most of the teams we play," Parker Charter head coach Scott Wick said. "If we don't crash the boards in districts, we are going to meet an early demise. When they (Parker) execute our offense, they're tough to beat. When I came in, they had gone through their 0-20, getting killed every night -- and didn't know if there was any hope on the horizon. The athletes were here, the ability was there -- they needed something to give them hope. "
Parker Charter took the early lead on a three-pointer from McNamara which put the Panthers up, 3-2 . However, the Vikings came storming back with a pair of threes from Pat Gannon and Ryan Harding to give Nashoba Tech the 12-10 lead after one.
The Panthers started to pick up the tempo late in the second quarter to secure its largest lead of the night. Parker Charter stretched the deficit to seven, ending the half on a 6-0 run behind Bryant and senior Kyle Dokus, who had a pair of emphatic blocks in the second quarter. The Panthers led Nashoba Tech, 30-23, at the end of two.
Parker Charter opened the second half with a paralyzing 8-0 run behind the strong transition defense of Levines, Bryant and Dokus. The Panthers lead quickly blossomed into a 14 point lead after a jump-hook from Dokus which made it 38-24 with 2:35 remaining in the third. Nashoba Tech used a timeout following the three and Harding swished a three-pointer from the top of the key.
The Panthers stumbled into a bit of foul trouble late in the fourth quarter, which allowed the Vikings to trim its lead to eight points on two separate occasions. However, Levines and Jake Pennbar netted their free throws to secure Parker Charter School's first boys' basketball title in its 17 year history.
And then the Panthers cut down the nets; a new tradition coach Wick brought to the school. At least for Parker Charter, it is hopeful that it can cut down another net in Worcester in the coming weeks at the District Finals.
"This team saw what their roles could be and saw their potential," Wick said. "For the first time in Parker Charter boys' basketball history, they have clinched a league title. When Blackstone Valley defeated Assabet on Wednesday, it was a shock. That gave us the opportunity to clinch a share tonight."
Parker Charter finishes its regular season at 18-3 and 13-3 in the Colonial Athletic Association.