Sometimes veteran leadership isn’t necessarily provided by the upperclassmen or the oldest players on the team. Sometimes it’s simply the players that grab the reins and take control of the team.
For the Elizabethtown boys’ basketball team, that leadership comes from backcourt teammates and underclassmen, Ryan Parise and Amos Kollie.
Parise, a 5-foot-9 sophomore point guard and son of coach Rocky Parise, is a second-year letterman, and Kollie, a 5-foot-10 junior, are a one-two punch that lead the youthful Bears in the Lancaster-Lebanon League’s Section 2.
In the 61-35 victory over Solanco on Friday, Dec. 22, Parise and Kollie combined for 30 points on 17 shots with 24 points in the paint. And when Parise or Kollie couldn’t find a quality shot, they found junior big man Larry Locker, who scored 16 points in the victory.
For coach Rocky Parise, the emergence of the backcourt duo with the younger Parise running the offense, has been a big development through the first seven games of the season.
“He’s been our most consistent player all year and we ask a lot of him as a sophomore,” Rocky Parise said. “He got a lot of good experience last year as a freshman. He doesn’t play like a sophomore.”
Instead, the sophomore has taken to the role as the offensive catalyst.
“That’s the difference this year – he has the confidence,” the coach said about the younger Parise. “He has the confidence and the players look to him a little more and I think allows us to do a little more. Amos can go run the offense off the ball and score the way he likes to score, and Larry can run and he knows he’s going to get the ball if he runs hard.”
Of course, with youth and inexperience comes a few bumps in the road. While Parise has been the second-leading scorer on the team with 13.9 points per game, Kollie, the team’s most dynamic scorer, has been up-and-down, averaging just eight per game.
Headed into the victory over Solanco, Kollie had posted double-digits in scoring just once (22 points vs. Red Land on Dec. 9) and has shot 7-for-20 (35 percent) from the free-throw line.
But after the 13-point effort against Solanco, the Elizabethtown coach hopes it’s the sign of things to come.
“It’s interesting because Amos has struggled the last three games and we’ve been trying to pump his confidence up because he’s such a talented kid and he worked so hard in the off season,” Parise said. “For us, it was like, ‘When is it going to happen.’ I knew it was going to happen [against Solanco] and we’ve been trying to pump up his confidence and we saw him play like we had been seeing over the last six months.”
It was Kollie and Parise who keyed the third-quarter surge against Solanco that turned a five-point game into a blowout. The guards scored 12 of the team’s 22 points in the third quarter and added a pair of assists.
Surely there will be more bumps in the road for the young backcourt in Section 2 action, but the thing about inexperienced and youthful basketball teams is they get older.
“We’re still very young – we start two sophomores and three juniors,” the coach said. “It’s just a matter of them maturing as players and we’re seeing that happen right before us.”