BC boys season ends
Bethlehem Catholic’s run through the PIAA basketball tournament came to a sudden end last week following the Hawks 69-57 loss to Lower Moreland at Souderton High School in the second round of the state tournament.
It marked the end of a tremendous season for the Hawks, who finished 26-4 and came away as champions of the East Penn Conference and the District 11 4A title.
Still, for head coach Scott McClary, his first season under the helm was filled with highlights, but ending the campaign prematurely leaves a sting.
“Endings are never easy, unless you are the one team to win the state title, so the taste of losing and finishing the season takes quite a bit of time to fade,” he said, “but it will fade and the taste of the successes that we earned this year will not fade. We were able to take a team that lost three starters and their sixth man from the previous year and win five of the six championships that we competed for this year: York Holiday tournament, EPC Steel Division, EPC regular season, EPC tournament, District 11 tournament. Not many high school players get to accomplish that, it was a special group. I am very lucky to have been along for the ride with these guys.”
The Hawks led 19-18 after the first quarter, but Lower Moreland slowly took control of the game from there, building a 41-35 lead at halftime. Lower Moreland outscored the Hawks by seven points in the third quarter and ended the period with a pair of three-pointers by Joey Cerrutti and Forrest Keys to push the lead to 58-45 going into the fourth.
The Lions (28-3) finished off the game by converting 11 of 12 free throw attempts to solidify the win. They advanced to the state semifinals with a 65-58 win over Scranton Prep on Friday.
Justin Paz ended his Becahi career with 22 points against the Lions. Ryan Santana was the only other Hawk to score in double digits, as he finished with 11 points. Lower Moreland had five scorers in double digits, led by Forrest Keys 22-point effort.
While the season ending is bittersweet, McClary will cherish the memories he forged in his first year as BC coach.
“I am proud of how this team grew together and forged relationships that made the team bigger than the individual,” said McClary. “The hardest part of coaching at any level is not coming up with good plays and on the court strategies, its taking 18 humans and get them to learn to play and work together, get them to see a bigger picture than their own successes and even the wins and losses.
“This is one of the best groups I have been a part of in my 30 years of coaching at accomplishing just that. We had four great seniors that led the way and really helped to drive our culture through our program. I cannot even pretend that we will just replace them. Next year’s team will be a different organism and will take a different path. But every single person that is eligible to return in our program is really excited for that challenge.
“I am really going to miss these seniors, as coaching Caden Giordano, Zamar Brake, Kyle Young and Justin Paz has been tremendous. When I look at the careers that this group has had and these individuals have had, I think it will be remembered and talked about in Lehigh Valley basketball circles for a very long time.”