Pates have impressed
You can say Freedom’s basketball team has been a pleasant surprise this winter, but maybe that’s an indictment from the public perception more than anything.
The Patriots have jumped out to a stellar 8-2 start to the year and entered this week as winners of six straight games.
Freedom earned two pivotal league wins last week against Central Catholic (57-52) and Stroudsburg (72-63) and look to keep streaking this week with a win over Southern Lehigh (4-6) with Northampton (6-4) and Parkland (8-3) on tap.
After a 1-2 start to the season that included back-to-back losses to Notre Dame and Bethlehem Catholic, Freedom is one of the hottest teams in the area.
“We lost to ND, but we didn’t play bad, just had guys foul out and cost us the game,” said head coach Joe Stellato. “The other loss is Beca and their size killed us, but other than that we are playing the way we thought we would led by defense. That is keeping us in every game and then good decisions at the end of games is the difference from last year. We have a year under our belts and are now winning those games that we lost last year in the last four minutes of games.”
The Pates have also had the benefit of different players stepping up every night to make things happen for the team.
“Against Liberty Taj Montgomery came off the bench and played great,” Stellato said. “Tyler DePalos came in against WT Woodson and hit some huge shots for us, then against Central Catholic it was Cam Biery that came off the bench and sparked the team. Reuben Soto and Jaylen Stewart played great against Stroudsburg. It is nice to have these different players step up when given the chance. The most consistent players all year have been Malek Mims and Caleb Mims. They have been carrying us through this winning streak and are the leaders of our team. They are so competitive and play so hard they bring the best out of everyone on the floor. That is all you can ask for as a coach.”
With another big week ahead for Stellato and company, the Pates will look to keep pace with Becahi (8-2) in the EPC’s Steel Division.
The Hawks are winners of four straight, including an 80-67 victory over Emmaus (9-2) on Saturday to keep them in the top tier of the EPC standings.
Senior guard Justin Paz became the school’s all-time leading scorer in the weekend victory scoring 18 points to push him to a career total of 1,496 points, surpassing Bob Bukvics (1,485 points) for the top spot.
Becahi now has Pocono Mountain West (5-5) and Pleasant Valley (0-9) this week.
Liberty (5-5) have won two out of their last three, falling to Nazareth 58-54 on Saturday. The Hurricanes face another tough two-game slate this week with Whitehall (6-6) and Emmaus (9-2) on tap.