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Down to the final week

Wednesday, February 7, 2018 by Peter Car pcar@tnonline.com in Sports

It’s down to the final week of the basketball regular season and Liberty and Bethlehem Catholic both have something to play for with one game left on the docket before the EPC playoffs get underway.

Liberty (10-11, 6-9) needs to defeat Dieruff on Wednesday night to secure a spot in the postseason, while Bethlehem Catholic (18-3, 14-1) would secure the top seed for the EPC playoffs this weekend with a win over Allen.

With plenty at stake on both sides of the coin, both coaches are fully aware of their scenarios after coming away with league wins on Monday night.

“This week is the ultimate crunch time,” said Liberty head coach Chad Landis. “We have been looking at our last three games as the beginning of our playoffs. We cannot afford to drop any of them. The kids know what’s at stake and so do the coaches. We have put our focus on our effort. When we have played hard and given good efforts we have been fine.”

Liberty has strung together two straight wins following a three-game skid with their 60-50 victory over Freedom last Friday night in a win that eliminated the Patriots (8-13, 6-9) from the postseason.

Alex Serrano scored a game-high 28 points and eclipsed the 1,000-point mark in the win over the Pates.

Now with Wednesday’s date with the Huskies on the road, a team that upset the Hurricanes earlier this year 62-55, Landis knows they need some redemption to extend their campaign.

“I have never been in a situation where we needed this many wins down the stretch to get in, but we have cut it close in the past,” he said. “For this week we have kept things simple, not adding a bunch of new stuff but focusing on playing hard and executing the basic things. So far that has been good to us. Hopefully we can keep it going against Dieruff.”

The Hawks have clinched the Steel Division title, but are still looking to hold off Central Catholic (18-3, 13-2) and East Stroudsburg South (19-2, 13-2) for the top seed in the league. Wednesday’s showdown with Allen will certainly be a test.

“This week is very important for us to close out 2-0,” said head coach Ray Barbosa. “The EPC tournament is going to be very tough with all the good teams. If we keep our effort and energy up on the defensive end, we have a good chance.”

Freedom’s postseason dreams ended with last Friday’s loss to Liberty. The Pates close out the year on Wednesday against Easton.