Bethlehem Press

Sunday, January 21, 2018
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Hawks are favorites in EPC

Friday, December 15, 2017 by Peter Car pcar@tnonline.com in Sports

Bethlehem Catholic is the team to beat this year on the hardwood.

That’s the sentiment around the East Penn Conference and District 11, as the EPC runners-up from a year ago and the defending District 11 4A champions bring back a bevy of returning talent from last year’s 21-7 campaign, which saw them lose in the first round of the PIAA tournament.

With the expectations high, head coach Ray Barbosa enters his third season at the helm looking to keep his team focused on nightly basis.

“We are looking to take it game by game and focus on the team in front of us,” Barbosa said. “We have a ton of experience and looking for our juniors and seniors to lead the way. The team has been working hard this past preseason and hopefully it can turn into wins this season. I’m very excited to coach this team this year.”

Back to lead the team this year are 6-10 Sr. C Ryan Young; 6-7 Jr. F Kyle Young; 6-2 F Sr. Scott Kuna; 5-11 Sr. G Deandre Gardner; 6-0 Jr. G Justin Paz; 6-1 F/G Sr. Dameon Robinson; 6-3 Jr. F Caden Giordano; 6-1 Sr. Justin Frett; 6-1 Jr. G Dom Italiani and 6-0 So. G Julian Thomas.

Both Young’s give the Hawks a formidable matchup advantage inside, with Ryan already committed to Northwestern University.

The elder Young averaged 13.8 points a game last year and will have a complementary back court ally in Paz, who averaged 17.3 points a game last season.

Newcomers to the fold are 5-7 So. G Ryan Santana; 5-10 Jr. G Mike Donchez; 6-0 Sr. G/ F Kenny Bell and 5-9 So. G Brian Santana.

The Hawks opened the season with a 65-51 win over MLK of Philadelphia on Saturday. Paz led the way with 21 points, as they opened this week with a contest against Parkland on Tuesday, followed by road games on Friday and Saturday at Pocono Mountain East and Abington.

“We need to hold teams to under 46 points a game,” said Barbosa of team goals. “Defense needs to be our staple and rebounding. We need to execute on the offensive end and share the basketball.”