Despite a rough two-game stretch to close out the regular season, which included a 21-7 loss in the finale to Bethlehem rival Liberty, Freedom head coach Jason Roeder wasn’t concerned as his team prepared for the district playoffs.
In fact, it was that recent stretch that Roeder believed would strengthen his team as postseason football got underway. And he was right.
All-star games are meant to be fun for the players and entertaining for its crowds. After a high school basketball season that saw plenty of local area teams reach the state tournament, Saturday’s Via All-Star Basketball Classic was a refreshing ending to plenty senior players’ careers.
In the first two contests of a four-game schedule of the 42nd Annual Via All Star Basketball Classic at Northampton Community College, the North and South teams split the outcomes. The South girls defeated the North, 45-38, in the first game, followed by a 102-85 victory for the North boys.
The Freedom football team rallied off the final of it’s last meeting against Emmaus: a close 37-35 loss. The date was fresh in their minds — September 30.
Since then, Freedom knew that it had improved on the field. Last Friday night showed just how much the Patriots have changed since late September.
Just before the first half was about to end, Liberty was on the verge of putting together a drive that would tie or give the Hurricanes a lead against rival Bethlehem Catholic. Instead, after first downs on that drive, the ’Canes punted the ball back over to the Golden Hawks.
That turned out to be the game’s defining moment.
Trailing two sets to none against the two-time defending District 11 champions, some would have expected Liberty to give up. Most other teams would have folded.
But Hurricane head coach Neiad Ammary knew the type of resilient bunch he had. And then the Hurricanes proved that notion.
The high school basketball regular season ended weeks ago when the state tournament concluded in Hershey. For most teams in the Lehigh Valley, it ended much earlier than that.
But for a number of high school seniors, there was one last game to be played in their respective jerseys.
It wasn’t long ago that Bethlehem Catholic nearly tasted a berth for the state playoffs. But their overtime loss to No. 1 seeded Pottsville in the semifinals put those plans on hold, as least for the time being.
With another opportunity to crack the state field on the table with Friday’s consolation game against No. 2 Salisbury, Becahi looked to be on their way midway through the fourth quarter as it held a 52-45 lead. The Falcons had been held to just two points over the first half of the final frame.
Jake Hebert's story is a unique one.
Hebert, one of a handful of talented pitchers on the Northern Yankees' staff, grew up in Missouri and later attended his early collegiate years in Illinois. Just last November, Hebert moved to the Macungie area and transferred to Lehigh Carbon Community College where he plays baseball in the spring.
On Sunday night, Hebert brought the Yankees one step closer to their first Blue Mountain League title after experiencing plenty of success in the Tri-County League.
Just a week ago, it looked as if the road to another championship appearance in the Blue Mountain League would be easy for Limeport.
The Bulls, who finished the regular season with the No. 1 seed in the playoffs at 25-11, quickly built a 2-0 series lead against the Northampton Giants. A pitching spectacle from ace Adam Maini in Game 1 led to an 8-0 win. A 7-5 victory the next day brought the Bulls within one win of their fourth championship appearance in six years.
After plenty of success in the Tri-County ranks in recent years, the Northern Yankees transitioned to the Blue Mountain League a year ago with much of the same triumph. In their inaugural BML season, the Yankees were one of the final four teams standing in last year's playoffs.
But a 1-0 series lead in the semifinals against Limeport quickly diminished to a 3-1 series defeat in a matter of days, leaving an uneasy feeling in the Yankees' stomachs.