It’s Parilo time
Tony Parilo is casual.
A homecoming king.
That is all off the basketball court.
On the court, Parilo is intense.
A fan favorite.
A player expected to be King of the Courts at the season’s onset, Parilo has lived up to the royal billing, and then some.
“(Basketball) is important to me,” Parilo said succinctly. “I couldn’t do it any other way. I just want to be the best player I can be, and make everybody around me better.”
With the conclusion of the Metro League season now behind the Miners and playoffs on the horizon, all eyes turn to Parilo to once again make things happen: get the timely block or rebound, the where-did-he-come-from steal, the how-did-he basket from all parts of the court.
Parilo doesn’t mind having the attention, especially from foes, for if all eyes are on Tony, he’ll gladly put the ball where they aren’t looking.
Such as into the hands of open teammates.
“Tony had to make the transition from being a very good role player last season to being a team leader,” NU coach Jeff Dellis said. “Now that he is comfortable in that role, he is getting other kids involved, penetrating, giving Kelib (Thompson) easy looks. We have a lot of kids that can score, but they can’t necessarily create their own shot.”
Parilo is among the leading scorers in the Sacramento area, tossing down 21 points a game. In Tuesday’s win over host Kennedy, he scored 23. But it was the other facets of his game that night that led Dellis to say:
— It was Parilo’s most complete game of the season
— When the team played as it did, there isn’t a team in the section NU can’t beat.
“Tony is our man,” Dellis said. “It won’t always be that he has to be the sole scorer. As he showed against Kennedy, and having four kids score in double digits, that keeping the others involved could be the difference between us being successful in the playoffs and not successful.”
In addition to a strong court sense, Parilo has a good understanding of the flow of the game, and when it is important to take over the game with scoring, bring the crowd into the game with a dunk, or improvise a play that often loses something in the second telling.
“The first time we played Jesuit, he drove to the baseline, and a kid came over and attempted a block,” Dellis said. “Tony hung in the air so long, got fouled and flipped it in. I think the ref lost sight of him because he called traveling. He probably figured Tony had to touch the ground to make the shot, but on the tape, you can see that he didn’t.”
Parilo shrugs off his popularity, and is somewhat uncomfortable talking about being named King of NU’s Winter Homecoming.
Yet he deftly walks the precarious line between playing to the crowd and showboating. He wants the crowd involved, and understands the way it can get in the heads of opponents. But the mechanics of the game always comes first.
It is no coincidence that Parilo tends to play his best basketball at home.
“Tony is comfortable playing in front of crowds,” Dellis said. “For most players, it is hard keeping the game court the same size as the practice court. It tends to shrink for them and it almost becomes restrictive. But for Tony, the court actually gets bigger during games. He plays off fans’ emotions when the stands are filled.”
Thursday night against Burbank, Parilo made his presence felt after Burbank had crept back into the game in the fourth quarter. After a 10-point Miner lead had shrunk to three, Parilo responded with a pair of free throws, a basket. a rebound at the other end of the court, followed by another pair of free throws. NU won the game, 69-60.
“Tony has a quiet confidence about him,” said teammate Kelib Thompson. “He leads more with his play than what he says. Early in the season, he was doing more scoring, but now he’s helped make us a better team by doing a good job of using the rest of us on the court.”
Parilo hopes to parlay his success at NU into a collegiate career.
He is not sure where his collegiate destination will be, but rest assured the school will have a basketball program and Parilo will be a part of it.
“Tony has an absolute passion for the game,” Dellis said. “He is always finding a place to play. There aren’t a lot of gym rats left in the world, and he is one of them.”
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