Bethlehem Press

Friday, July 10, 2020

Winter hoop teams gain momentum

Thursday, January 9, 2020 by Peter Car pcar@tnonline.com in Sports

If the winter break proved anything to Freedom, it’s that the Pates can play with anyone.

The Patriots won the Boardwalk Classic in Wildwood last week and did it impressive fashion, which head coach Joe Stellato hopes can pave the way for the team heading into the New Year.

With an 18-point comeback win in their 70-45 contest against Sterling in the opening round and then a 73-62 win over Archbishop Carroll, the second-ranked 4A team in PA, the Pates (8-2) could have eclipsed a mental hurdle on what type of team they want to be.

“In the first game of the tournament, Sterling was up as much as 18 in the first period and up by 9 at half time,” said Stellato. “At half time, I challenged the guys by asking them what kind of team they want to be - a good team or a great one? Do we want to play as individuals or play as a team? I challenged them to compete and that they did. We played our best six periods of the year, and we need to continue to play this way.”

Freedom let that momentum bleed over into EPC play last week, as it took down Stroudsburg 75-61 and Northampton 74-68.

With games against Parkland, Pocono Mountain East and Sunday’s important Steel Division tilt with Allen on the schedule for this week, the Pates have an opportunity to keep proving that they are one of the contenders in the conference.

“We gained a lot of confidence to come back and play in our upcoming league games,” Stellato said of the Wildwood trip. “We do know that momentum is only as good as our next game, but we can use those two games as examples of how we need to play and can play.”

Bethlehem Catholic (7-5) has also used its success by winning a holiday crown as momentum into 2020, as the Hawks are now winners of four straight following a 61-46 win over Emmaus and then handling Pocono Mountain West 83-54 last week.

“We played really well on the road at Emmaus,” said Hawks head coach Scott McClary, as they head into a week Pleasant Valley and East Stroudsburg South. “I was very happy with how we controlled the glass and how we played together on offense. Winning four out of our last five hopefully will help us cement some of these early lessons we are learning. Every game in the EPC is a true battle and it’s just about staying mentally ready for each day. Our four seniors are really doing well in growing as leaders for us in that department. Many tough games ahead, but I like the direction that we are going.”

Liberty (7-4) won both of their EPC contests, knocking off Nazareth 71-52 and Whitehall 60-51. With Emmaus, Pleasant Valley and Pennridge on slate for this week, Liberty will have a chance to increase their bids of clinching districts if they can grab two wins this week.