When you talk to basketball coaches around the Lehigh Valley Conference, there's a certain consensus regarding the hierarchy structure this winter.
There's Liberty and then there's everyone else.
The Hurricanes (6-2, 4-0) only two losses were to Philadelphia area teams over Christmas and they've won their other six games by an average of 20.8 points, five of which have come against LVC opponents.
So when some teams are looking to fix their rebounding woes, offensive flow or defensive intensity, Liberty is just looking for a game locally.
Disappointment. Wake-up call. Consistency.
All are words that come out of head coach Joe Stellato's mouth when he talks about Freedom's basketball season up to date.
Sitting with a 5-5 overall record and a subpar 1-3 mark in the Lehigh Valley Conference, the Patriots enter desperate measures this week with a three game slate.
Monday's 53-42 victory over Pocono Mountain West got their week off to a promising start with the road win.
It's not quite how Brandon Hall expected to ring in the New Year for Freedom's wrestling program. The Patriots were forced to cancel their January 3 wrestling meet against Parkland, as well as postpone tonight's bout against Northampton because of a suspected skin infection.
Hall's program was shut down for 10 days, including tonight's match against Northampton, with no skin-to-skin contact for his wrestlers.
Even though the skin infection was limited, he felt the best decision was to wipe the slate clean and shut things down to halt any potential of further infections.
Bethlehem Catholic may have a lineup full of new wrestlers, but the Hawks haven't changed much from a year ago, at least when it comes to the Tony Iasiello Christmas City Tournament.
Becahi ran away with the team title for a second consecutive year, walloping the competition with 310.5 team points, while sending 12 wrestlers into the finals and crowning eight champions.
At this point last season, Bethlehem Catholic was struggling to find wins on the basketball court. As they entered the York Catholic tournament a year ago at 0-5, they finally found some salvation with their first victory of the season during their Christmas break.
A year later, the Hawks return home with a tournament championship as they knocked off York Catholic 68-38 in last Friday's championship game.
Matt Husek led Becahi (4-4) with 17 points, while Justin Lenzer added 14, including four 3-pointers, to get the Hawks to .500 as they enter this week's action.
Liberty breezed through their first five games of the regular season, but the Hurricanes ran into some hiccups during the holiday season.
After a 5-0 start in the month of December, the 'Canes dropped their final two games before the new year, falling to Rancocas Valley 53-50 in double overtime last week, coupled by a 56-53 defeat to Arch Bishop Carroll last Saturday.
Head coach Chad Landis hopes that after his team's buzzsaw approach to the first five games of the year, the Christmas break provided a dose of reality.
If there's one thing synonymous with the holiday season, it's holiday tournaments. Liberty, Freedom and Bethlehem Catholic's boys' basketball teams will be making treks out of the area this week, as they gear up for out-of-area competition.
Liberty finds themselves in the most prestigious tournament on Dec. 27 and 29 when they take part in the Primetime Christmas Shootout at Trenton Catholic Academy (NJ).
Something happened on the way to Liberty's wrestling tournament at Penn Manor two weeks ago that prompted a slight change to this weekend's Bethlehem Holiday Wrestling Classic plans. Following the tragic events that transpired at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. on December 14, Liberty's wrestling team had other things on their mind as they geared up for a wrestling tournament.
Bethlehem Catholic romped their way to the team title during last year's Tony Iasiello Christmas City Wrestling Tournament when they placed 10 wrestlers in the finals, with seven coming away with gold medals.
Whether that happens in the 45th version of this Bethlehem tournament will all unfold Friday and Saturday at Bethlehem Catholic's gymnasium. Head coach Jeff Karam hopes for more of the same this Christmas, but with Darian Cruz (120), Ryan Todora (145) and Jose Ortiz (182) returning as the only champions from last year, the Hawks will need to find new gold medalists.
With only two games under their belts heading into this week, Liberty's boys' basketball team had a slow start to December.
That all changes this week, as the Hurricanes (2-0) have a three-game slate the week before Christmas, none of which are easy contests.
Starting with last night's contest against Easton, followed by tonight's home tilt against Stroudsburg, the 'Canes have a busy two-night stretch.
Then they close out the week with everyone's favorite basketball contest in the Lehigh Valley when they host Freedom Friday night.