Bethlehem Press

Thursday, December 12, 2019
Press photo by Rob MerchantMalik Harrington and the boys were looking to beat Becahi on Tuesday night. Copyright - Digital_Media_Magic_LLC_Nazareth_PA Press photo by Rob MerchantMalik Harrington and the boys were looking to beat Becahi on Tuesday night. Copyright - Digital_Media_Magic_LLC_Nazareth_PA

Pates, Hawks were hoping for key win

Thursday, January 31, 2019 by Peter Car pcar@tnonline.com in Sports

The basketball spotlight of the Lehigh Valley was front and center at Bethlehem Catholic last night, as the Golden Hawks hosted Freedom in the marquee battle of the season in the East Penn Conference. With both teams battling for the top spot in the conference, Tuesday’s showdown, which happened after Press deadlines, would play a pivotal role in the league playoff race.

Freedom (15-3) saw its 11-game win streak snapped last week in a 76-59 loss to Easton, but the Pates rebounded with wins over Bangor, Dieruff and Pocono Mountain East heading into Tuesday’s tilt.

Head coach Joe Stellato hopes that the recent defeat can pay off in the long run.

“The Easton loss made all of us look in the mirror and re-evaluate what helps us to be successful and what hurts us,” Stellato said. “Sometimes, when you are on a winning streak like that you get away from really taking a look at things. You don’t want to fix what is not broken. But since that game, we have made some positive adjustments that helped us win three in a row. We feel like we are now playing our best basketball and are looking forward to the challenges ahead.”

That first challenge started with Becahi (14-3), as the Pates were hoping to redeem themselves from a 74-62 loss earlier this season.

“This week matchups are exciting,” said Stellato, as Freedom also plays Liberty on the road Friday night. “We put ourselves in a great position to go out and better our chances for leagues. We look forward to the challenge. We are going into Tuesday nights game thinking that if we want to be the best, we have to beat the best.

The Hawks also saw their 10-game win streak halted on Sunday in a 73-54 loss to St. John’s (DC) in the Hoop Group event at Parkland.

Head coach Scott McClary knew Sunday’s game would be tough from day one, but ultimately thinks the benefit of playing such a caliber program is more than important than wins and losses.

“Tough loss for us Sunday,” said McClary. “St Johns is a very talented team that gave us looks that teams around here cannot give. Hopefully it will make us better down the stretch of the regular season and into the playoffs.”

Liberty (10-8) heads into this week’s contests against Allen and Freedom on a two-game skid with losses to Becahi and Haverford last week. The ‘Canes need one win to clinch a district berth over their last four, which includes Easton and Dieruff.