Bethlehem Press

Saturday, December 7, 2019
Press photo by Rob MerchantWilliam Slippe and the Hurricanes are looking to make a playoff push. Copyright - Digital_Media_Magic_LLC_Nazareth_PA Press photo by Rob MerchantWilliam Slippe and the Hurricanes are looking to make a playoff push. Copyright - Digital_Media_Magic_LLC_Nazareth_PA

Big week for boys

Wednesday, January 23, 2019 by Peter Car pcar@tnonline.com in Sports

While Freedom and Bethlehem Catholic have already locked up district berths on the season, Liberty is still working its way toward that goal as they head into an important week of action.

The Hurricanes (9-6) have won four of five games and pushed themselves in good position heading down the home stretch to clinch a district berth, barring a sudden skid in the final seven games.

With six of their games in the division to close out the year, things won’t be easy and head coach Chad Landis is certainly aware of the obstacles that lie ahead, starting with Tuesday’s contest against Dieruff.

“We did not fair too well the first time through the division,” said Landis, as they went 1-3 in their first round of divisional games. “We think we have improved since the beginning of the year and we will get a chance to prove that over the next seven games.”

The rest of this week features tough contests against Bethlehem Catholic and a non-conference showdown with Haverford Saturday at home. With only two wins needed to clinch a district berth, the Hurricanes should be in good position to achieve that, but chipping away at that sooner than later is obviously the scenario Landis is hoping for.

“We feel like since the Christmas break we have been playing better basketball,” he said. “We have been competitive in each game and also played well for stretches to win each game. January is always an important part of the season for teams that want to make the playoff. We are hoping we can continue with the momentum of the past two weeks and be playing our best basketball in February.”

Freedom (12-2) and Bethlehem Catholic (12-2) both sit atop the East Penn Conference and the Steel Division and look to continue their hot trek through the season this week. The Pates, winners of 11 straight, have Easton, Bangor, Dieruff and Pocono Mountain East this week. Head coach Joe Stellato isn’t surprised this year’s team has been able to be so successful, but is happy the team has responded so well.

“We are playing with a lot of confidence knowing that we can come back from any deficit,” said Stellato. “The players really believe in what we are doing, and they believe in each other. They are sharing the ball and playing defense on every possession like each one is the last of the season.

“We came into this season with a chip on our shoulder; we were at the bottom of our division in the preseason polls, and it has motivated us. This team really responds to the coaches and to the style we are playing. They are very competitive and hate to lose, and they believe that we are the best team in the league.”

Becahi has Pocono Mountain East, Allen, Liberty and a contest with highly-rated St. John’s (DC) at Parkland on Saturday. Hawks’ head coach Scott McClary is excited about the task at hand in the coming week, but also understands it’s a lot of basketball in a short amount of time.

“We are starting a stretch of five games in eight days,” he said. “This stretch will challenge us in many ways and will take a tremendous effort by everyone in our program. Every one of these teams in the next five games is playing very well right now and they will be very excited to take their shot at the team that is in first place right now. Our guys are really looking forward to the challenge.”