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.
It wasn't long ago that most of the best teams in Bethlehem's Holiday Wrestling Classic came from District 11.
That time has passed.
This year's Classic saw District 2's Wyoming Seminary cruise to the team title while the highest-finishing District 11 team was the Colonial League's Saucon Valley in seventh place.
Freedom finished higher than any other Lehigh Valley big school team, taking 10th place. Liberty was a few places behind in 12th.
The Hurricanes had the top finisher among the two Bethlehem high schools.
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).
After a too-close-for-comfort first quarter, the Liberty Hurricanes poured on the defense to defeat Easton, 43-35, last week.
"We decided to focus a lot more on our man defense, and we got a few steals in a row. We had some fast breaks, and pushed the ball up the court," said Liberty's Kali Shumock.
The Hurricanes outscored the Red Rovers by seven points in both the second and third quarters, and by eight points in the fourth quarter.
Shumock led Liberty's scoring with 13 points, followed by freshman, Kay West, who had ten points.
The Liberty Hurricanes swam to two more victories on Dec. 18, as the boys defeated Easton, 205-99, and the girls also defeated the Red Rovers, 180-132.
Individual event winners for the boys were Sean VanAtta in the 200 IM in 2:13.10, Ryan Spadt in the 50 free in 23.51, Evan Smith in the 100 free in 54.00, Alex Medellin in the 500 free in 5:34.28, and VanAtta in the 100 backstroke in 59.94.
"The 200 IM was a touch-out at the end," said team captain, James Sheplock, regarding VanAtta's close finish.
Liberty's Bryan Rivera won the diving event with 135.95 points.
With the major portion of the deer hunting seasons now over, Lehigh Valley sportsmen may be wondering how it went. According to local deer processors and a taxidermist, the numbers are about the same as last year, perhaps a tad off.
While many nice, heavily tined bucks were taken, overall numbers appear to be down ever slightly.
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.
In its second swim meet of the season, the Freedom Patriots gave their best effort against the Emmaus Hornets on Dec. 18, but were defeated, 112-71 (boys) and 107-79 (girls).
Helen Hsu, Carly DelFranco, Brooke Munion, and Shannon Howell opened the meet with a victory in the 200 medley relay in 1:53.03 for the Patriots.
Hsu said, "We didn't lose any [relay swimmers from last year], so hopefully, we'll keep getting better as the season goes on."