Ryan Kendra triggers Upper Perkiomen hoops revival

By DAVE KURTZ

RED HILL – Upper Perkiomen’s rise from the outhouse to the penthouse didn’t happen overnight.

The climb has been four years in the making, triggered by record-setting seniors Will Walker, Liam Boyle and Ryan Kendra.

Walker set the single-game program record for rebounds with 25 during a midseason romp over Antietam, Boyle poured in a single-game record 47 points in a win over Pottstown, and all Kendra did was become the program’s all-time leading scorer with 1,416 career points while leading the Pioneer Athletic Conference in scoring at 19.9 points per game.

All impressive numbers – eclipsed only by the Indians’ 8-2 first-place finish in the PAC Frontier, a 15-9 overall mark and trips to the league semifinals and District 1-5A playoffs this season.

“Ryan and Liam have been the backbone of our program for the past four years,” said UP head coach Jared Krupp. “We knew they had the potential to bring our program to new heights as freshmen. Will’s development over the past four years was also a key addition to the growth of our program.

“These three boys worked on their game year round, committed themselves to being a part of our program, and maximized the potential we saw early in their career. The three have been instrumental in bringing our program from a team that lost 72 PAC games in a row, to a team that won the regular season Frontier Division title.”

Kendra, a multi-layered offensive force that can create off the dribble and hit shots from all over the floor, was the linchpin of Upper Perk’s transformation from perennial doormat to championship contender.

The son of Lisa and Frank Kendra who is committed to playing Division III basketball at York College, Kendra remembers those difficult times in the early stages of his career.

“When I first started playing for Upper Perk, we were on a 72-game PAC losing streak,” Kendra said. “This continued throughout my sophomore year. Then junior year came and we won the first league game of the season against Pottsgrove. That was a great feeling and my teammates and I knew from that point on that we were going to have a great season.

“We went on to make it to districts and lost in the first round. Senior year, we (won) the Frontier Division in the PAC and were the first team in Upper Perk history to make the PAC Final Four.  This could not have been accomplished without my teammates who I grew up with and played basketball with for years and my coaching staff.”

Upper Perk set the tone early this season, ripping off nine-straight victories following a season-opening loss to North Penn. Despite a 2-5 stretch that included losses to PAC Liberty foes Spring-Ford (59-46), Owen J. Roberts (55-40) and Perkiomen Valley (47-38) – all District 1-6A qualifiers – the Tribe regrouped to win four straight.

Losses to Kutztown (63-58), eventual PAC champion Methacton (65-53 league semifinals) and West Chester Rustin (63-43 in the opening round of District 1 5A playoffs) brought the curtain crashing down on the historic season at Upper Perkiomen, but didn’t obscure the sunlight poking through the clouds.

“While each and every season of athletics has provided some of the best memories an athlete could ask for, and creating those memories with friends and teammates that stuck together through thick and thin, I believe my most memorable moment would have to be achieving a number 1 seed going into the PAC playoffs,” said Kendra.

“The competition throughout the league is top quality and I’ve made some great friends with players that I compete against every other night!  The battles on the court can be fierce, but it’s great getting together with those friends and enjoying the memories. Our playoffs were cut short by a great Methacton team, but for my teammates and I, those memories of getting there are something special.”

Kendra, a standout wide receiver for the UP football team, is something special in the classroom and community, too.

Currently holding down a 3.45 GPA, Kendra has planted trees for the Perkiomen Watershed while assisting in nature conservation along the Perkiomen River. He has also been a volunteer youth sports coach – working the Community Youth Basketball Camp at Upper Perk.

Future Business Leaders of America, Mini-Thon Fund Raiser, and Sports Boosters Fund Drive participant are among his other in-school activities.

Kendra’s athletic resume reads like something from Ripley’s Believe It or Not.

Football
2015 PAC Honorable Mention (offense)
2016 PAC First Team All Division (offense and defense)
2016 PAC First Team All Conference (offense and defense)
2017 PAC First Team All Division (offense and defense)
Basketball
2015-16 PAC 2nd Team PAC All Conference
2015-16 Upper Perkiomen team MVP
2015-16 Upper Perkiomen Athlete of the Season (Winter)
2016-17 PAC 1st Team-All Conference
2016-17 Upper Perkiomen team MVP
2017-18 PAC 1st Team All Conference basketball
2017 Fleetwood Area Tournament MVP
Upper Perkiomen 1,000 point scorer
Upper Perkiomen All- time scoring leader (1416 points)

Krupp has a firm handle on Kendra’s advanced skills and hardwood accomplishments.

“Ryan is so athletic,” Krupp said. “He possesses speed, agility and strength that many kids do not have. This made him a threat defensively and a big rebounder for our team. That paired with a solid jump shot and a knack to get to the basket and finish at will make him one of the best players to come through Upper Perk.”

Athletics are part of the Kendra family DNA.

Since reaching high school, Ryan’s younger brother Cole has concentrated on soccer after playing football, basketball and track in his younger years and both parents have sports in their backgrounds.

“My athletic inspirations include my parents and my brother because they always pushed me to be the best I can be,” Ryan said. “My father used to play basketball on a team that went as far as regionals and talking with him about those days inspires me.

“My mother was always good at volleyball and she inspired me to start really working hard in basketball. Even though my brother is younger than me, I still saw him as a great athlete because he was on the number 1 ranked travel soccer team in the nation and I wanted to be on a great team just like him. Other inspirations include LeBron James who is my favorite basketball player.”

Kendra plans on majoring in business/finance at York, which went 24-5 this season before falling to Hamilton 69-66 in the second round of the NCAA Division III Tournament.

“York has positioned itself as offering diverse studies and learning about their business programs piqued my interest,”Kendra said. “I will be playing basketball for York College, which is a nationally ranked program that just won the Capital Athletic Conference Championships. I am very excited to play for them.”

Krupp foresees great things for Kendra at the next level and beyond.

“I feel that Ryan can contribute right away at York College,” Krupp said. “If he continues to push himself to get better on both ends of the floor, I feel he can see time early in his collegiate career. 

“Ryan is a great basketball talent, but he is also a terrific person. He is respectful, dependable, and a great teammate. As proud as I am for him to achieve all of these basketball accolades, I am most proud of the fact that he has always conducted himself with poise and tremendous character over the past four years.”

Those past four years have provided a great learning experience for Kendra.

“Over the years, I have obtained many qualities and learned many things throughout my years as an athlete,” said Kendra. “The one thing that I will take away most from my athletic career is the memories that I made with my teammates