SHIRLEY -- When seeded Parker Charter School head coach Scott Wick took over the Panthers' basketball program, it was on the heels of winless seasons. Fast-forward to Monday night,Parker Charter was in its first-ever boys' basketball playoff game against the Trivium School, of Lancaster. The No. 3 seeded Parker Charter Panthers made history inside of the Ayer Shirley Middle School, when it mauled the No. 14 seeded Lions, 64-32.
"When I came into the job a few years ago, they wanted a plan -- something to hang their hat on," Wick said. "Towards the end of my first year, the idea of this Division 4 All-State came up. We thought that we could hopefully make a run at it. We talked about it during that 1-19 season when I lost only two seniors. That was sort of the mantra of you're better that what you have been -- they followed through with the summer workouts and worked hard in practice. It's nice being a part of it."
Parker Charter senior guard Jesse Levines paced the Panthers with his team-high 13 points. Levines has been through the ups-and-downs Parker Charter has faced, and he has been a tri-captain for the last three seasons.
"It is fulfilling feeling when you come from being 0-20," Levines said. "When me and big man (Kyle Dokus) were in ninth-grade, we went 0-20, and it was really demoralizing. We knew we had two years left on the team. We knew that once we got to this year, we would have something special. We have been working at it for four years, it is nice to see our hard-work finally pay off."
Parker Charter bounded out to an early 11-3 lead behind the steady play of Dokus, Levines and Kyle McNamara. Levines knocked down a pair of three-pointers in the opening quarter, including one late in the quarter that stretched the Panthers' lead to 16-7. Parker Charter led Trivium, 16-8, after one quarter. The Panthers spread the ball around in the second quarter, scoring the majority of their points off Trivium turnovers. Tim Flanagan and Devin McNamara both knocked down three-pointers in the quarter.
Late in the first half, Flanagan knocked down a pull-up jumper from the left block to give the Panthers their biggest lead of the night, 34-14. Trivium's Chris Josephs knocked down a pair of free-throws to end the quarter. Parker Charter led big, 34-16, at the end of the first half.
Wick emptied his bench in the second half and saw quality minutes from Will Brittan and Devin McNamara. McNamara was the Panthers' second leading scorer with his 10 points. Will Bryant, Flanagan and Akhil Pingali all led Parker Charter on the glass with six rebounds each. Parker Charter owned a 32-17 edge on the glass in the win. Parker Charter will face the winner of Ayer Shirley and Douglas, which is to be played on Wednesday night.
Monday night's win was a flashback moment for Wick, who faced the Trivium School in his first game as coach of Parker Charter.
"My first-game ever here was against Trivium," the coach said. "We lost by like three points in their gym. To see it come almost full circle is sort of some good charma that maybe we make a run coming up. These guys have always been able to come to the girls' playoff games, and now people are coming to their playoff games -- They're having the same type of success. Hopefully, we have a little bit of a tradition now where we can go to Districts every year or almost every year. This is something that our program has not had in 17 years."