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Boys basketball: Young Palisades squad aiming to tighten up D in season’s second half


Palisades head boys basketball coach Phil Ham is confident his team – with their uptempo offense – can exchange baskets with any team in the Colonial League.
His team’s problem is preventing baskets.
The Pirates’ latest outcome, a 57-23 loss to Southern Lehigh Monday, left them with an overall 3-8 record. They have averaged just over 50 points per game, while allowing just over 60 per contest.
“I don’t have any doubt that we can score,” said the third-year head coach. “Offensively, I think we can play with any team in the league. Our issue has been on the other end.
“We need to stop teams defensively.”
The Pirates have a number of players who are seeing varsity action for the first time.
“We had a lot of young guys who came up,” Ham noted. “Those guys got a lot of JV minutes last year, and they have been adjusting.
“But it does leave us in good shape for the future.”
Senior point guard Liam Carey is the Pirates’ floor general on both sides of the ball. He averaged 15 points last year, and is averaging just above 20 points and six rebounds this season. He is among the leading scorers in the Lehigh Valley.
Carey has made a commitment to play for Division II Friends University in Wichita, Kan., next winter. He had 28 points in a recent win over Northern Lehigh that snapped a four-game losing streak before their current setback.
He knows his team has strived for consistency.
“I think we have had some ups and downs so far,” said Carey. “We are very young without a lot of varsity experience. Our record is not what we want it to be, but I think we have made some improvements in our game as a team so far.

“I think we have the opportunity to have a better second half of the season.”
Ham has cherished his guard’s input on all fronts.
“He’s playing really well for us, and I couldn’t ask for anything more,” stressed Ham. “Liam runs the point, he can score, and he can rebound. He’s been the whole package, and he’ll play Division II ball next year.
“We believe he can be an even better player down the stretch for us, and he can be an even more effective scorer.”
Senior 6-foot-6 center Maki Modlin has provided a consistent force in the middle, as he has averaged roughly nine points and eight rebounds per game. Junior guard Kai Stiansen also has developed into a steady offensive contributor. Stiansen has averaged approximately seven points per contest.
Senior forward Michael Wallbillich is expected to see more minutes.
“(Modlin) can block a lot of shots,” said Hamm. “He is starting to be more of a scorer for us. He can be solid in the middle. Kai is starting to come around, and he will help us. Michael has some size, and he, too, should help us down the stretch.”
The Pirates finished 7-13 last season and advanced to the District 11 Class 3A quarterfinals where they were eliminated by Salisbury.
This year, Ham is optimistic his team can get to the district dance. The Pirates will need to win eight of their final 11 to punch their ticket.
“We know we can get there,” he said. “Our goal is to get spots in the league and district playoffs.
“It will all come down on how well we can defend.”