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Sports Article
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Zalys Leads Perkiomen to Win Over West-Mont
Written by Bradley Schlegel Correspondent

Perkiomen's Paulius Zalys jumps above a West-Mont player en route to the hoop after a failed attempt to block his shot. Zalys scored 19 points in the game last Thursday. 

                Paulius Zalys says he learned to play basketball in a system where he was just another scoring option in an offensive style heavy in designed plays.  But during his senior season at Perkiomen School, Zalys has embraced a more versatile approach. He has displayed an ability to break down defenders off the dribble while emerging as a team leader. 

                "I try to do whatever the team needs," Zalys said. "Do whatever the score dictates.  Just go with the flow."

                At 6-foot-7, the Kaunas, Lithuania native has developed into a crucial performer for the Panthers. Last week, during a three-game stretch, he averaged more than 15 points.

                In a 70-40 win over West-Mont Christian on Jan. 8, Zalys showed his athleticism. Besides scoring a team-high 19 points in three quarters of play, he blocked two shots and dished out two assists.

                He delivered two dunks in the first quarter to help Perkiomen School take a commanding 38-15 advantage and improve to 3-0 in the Tri-County League.

                "This guy can do a lot of different things at both ends of the court," Panthers head coach Mark Longstreth said.  They try to get Zalys, who has accepted a full-scholarship to play at Lafayette College in Easton, at least one touch on every offensive possession, according to the coach.  "If defenses are keying on him too much, then other guys have the opportunity to do more of the scoring," Longstreth said.

                According to the coach, Zalys, in his second season at Perkiomen School, has gotten better at moving without the ball and setting up his teammates.  "Paulius likes to pass the ball," Longstreth said. "He draws so much attention. I'm so pleased with how he has improved."

                Zalys spent his sophomore season of high school at the academy of Arvydas Sabonis, named for a seven-year NBA veteran in his hometown.  The Perkiomen student has honed his skills playing for the Jersey Shore Warriors, a high-profile AAU team.  "The level of play there is outstanding," he said.

                The emergence of Zalys and Charile Carrao in the post, along with swingman Martynas Simanavicius – another native of Lithuania – has helped provide the Panthers with some much needed versatility, according to Longstreth.  "I think we're moving in the right direction," the coach said. "The offense is moving the ball better. We're getting people involved."

                On Jan. 9, in the first half of a non-league game against Solebury School, Perkiomen School - had five players score – led 33-27 at haftime.

                But the Spartans rallied to score 22 points in the third and fourth quarters, respectively, to win 71-54.

                Simanavicius led the Panthers with 16 points in the defeat. Zalys added 14 points.

                Early on, Solebury's guards attempted to force the ball inside, according to Longstreth.

                The coach said his team did a good job, limiting the Spartans to just four free throw attempts in first half.

                In the second half, Solebury School played more of an outside game, according to Longstreth said. He said Perkiomen School couldn't adjust.  "Their guards did a lot of damage," the coach said. "We need to learn from experiences like that and get better."






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