Pates grind through tough loss
With any type of loss, there's always a lesson to be learned and Freedom's basketball team took a valuable experience from their setback to Easton last Friday night.
Closing out games and finishing contests that you can win are always important steps towards becoming an elite team and the Patriots (3-1) are certainly aware of that following a 47-45 overtime loss to the Rovers (3-0).
"We had a chance in overtime to close out the game and we didn't," said head coach Joe Stellato. "That's what we took away from that experience. We had the lead in overtime and didn't finish the job."
Nyreef Jackson led the Pates with 14 points on the night, while Derike Chiclana added 13, as both have led the Pates in scoring by averaging a tad over 15.5 points a contest this season.
The loss to Easton however doesn't provide any moral victories when it comes to competing with the best the Lehigh Valley Conference has to offer.
"It's a tough loss any way you look at it," Stellato said. "When you have teams like Liberty and Easton in your division, it's going to come down to one game at the end of the regular season to determine who gets into the LVC playoffs.
This division is so tough and you need to be able to win every game you can."
With Easton ahead of the eight ball at the moment, Freedom certainly hasn't had the easiest opening schedule in the LVC.
With a season opening victory over Parkland, followed by last Friday's tilt against Easton and this Friday's rivalry contest against Liberty (2-0), the Pates will have taken on three of the top teams in the conference in the first six games of their season.
"We want to prove to everyone in the conference that we can compete with the best teams," Stellato said. "Playing Liberty on Friday isn't the biggest game of the season for us.
"We just want to go out and show that we can compete with them.
"They're a loaded team with a lot of talent and we're going to have our hands full, but I think our guys are confident in what we can do too."
That sign of confidence saw the Pates bounce back from their loss to Easton with a 63-50 victory over East Stroudsburg North the following night.
Freedom built a 17-5 first quarter lead and never looked back as eight players tallied buckets in the win.
It was quite a contrast to last season when the Patriots had to travel to East Stroudsburg the night after taking on Easton and struggled to an overtime win.
"It's never easy to play back-to-back nights, but our guys came out and played hard," Stellato said of the win over ESN. "I'm proud of the way we played. It's that type of game and effort that showed me we learned something from the Easton loss."