You can say that confidence has been building for Bethlehem Catholic’s basketball team all season, but after handing Allen their first loss of the season on the final night of the regular season, the Hawks may have added more pep in their step heading into the postseason.
That certainly looked to be the case during Friday’s East Penn Conference playoff quarterfinal, as the Hawks came out fast and never looked back during a 64-54 victory over Whitehall.
Bethlehem Catholic forward, Tessa Zamolyi, called the Hawks’ 58-42 victory over Freedom a good win, but not something to jump around about after their EPC playoff game last Friday night at Becahi.
That’s because the Patriots pulled out all the stops, perhaps surprising the Hawks because in the teams’ two previous matchups, Becahi defeated Freedom handily. This time, things would be different.
“Playing them for the third time, they definitely came a lot closer,” Zamolyi said. “The last two times, we dominated, so we didn’t expect them to come so close.”
I received a phone call late Friday night from a friend where the narrative quickly shifted to opinion on what would happen in Saturday’s Class 3A state wrestling championship between Bethlehem Catholic and Nazareth.
I assumed Becahi would squeak through to top the Blue Eagles, which I was wrong about, but I was fairly correct when making the assumption that this may be the best and most important match in District 11 history.
Liberty defensive end Jaohne Duggan and Emmaus kicker Carson Landis were the only local players from District 11 selected to the Big 33 roster last week.
With the Big 33 foundation folding last month, the Pennsylvania State Football Coaches Association (PSFCA) took control of the contest, as 2017 will mark its 60th year to date.
One of the changes already seen with new leadership is the game’s tentative play date of Monday, May 29th (Memorial Day) at Hersheypark Stadium against Maryland.
East Stroudsburg North-Emmaus
The No. 8 seed Timberwolves knocked off top-seeded Emmaus 52-49 in an Eastern Pennsylvania Conference quarterfinal.
Arian Azemi led East Stroudsburg North with a game-high 21 points.
Emmaus’ David Kachelries scored 17 points, while teammate Zach Sabol added 10 points.
The Timberwolves will move on to face No. 4 seed Bethlehem Catholic in Tuesday’s semifinals. The Hawks defeated Whitehall in Friday’s quarterfinal round.
Were you entertained?
Saturday’s PIAA 3A wrestling state championship between Bethlehem Catholic and Nazareth came down to the final bout, where the winner took all and Zac Kiefer instantly became a Nazareth legend, following his 2-1 victory over Tavion Banks in the 170-pound finale to give the Blue Eagles a 30-29 state championship victory over Bethlehem Catholic.
It was a stunning match from start to finish and that we’ll likely never see again.
It’ll also be one that Hawks’ head coach Jeff Karam will never forget either, of course, for all the wrong reasons.
In the finals basketball games of the 2016-17 Eastern Pennsylvania Conference season, Bethlehem Catholic knocked off Allen, the state’s top ranked team, while several other games were contested on the league’s final night before Friday’s playoffs begin.
For more about your local teams see this week’s editions of the Lehigh Valley Press.
The Golden Hawks handed the state’s top-ranked team its first loss of the season, 68-56 in overtime.
The East Penn Conference announced opening-round pairings for their boys and girls basketball tournaments. Action begins Friday night, Feb. 10 with most games beginning at 7 p.m.
In the boys bracket, Emmaus earned the top seed and will host Eastburg North. In the bracket below, fourth seed Becahi will host fifth seed Whitehall, which looked certain to finish with a top-four seed heading into the playoffs. The two winners will play Wednesday, Feb. 15 at a site and time to be determined.
The Tigers beat Catasauqua 77-73 on a three-pointer by Ryan Hippensteel with 6.8 seconds left in the game.
Hippensteel, a senior playing in his final high school game, scored a career-high 13 points in the game, while teammate Rob Seyfried had 29 and Sam Yadush and Trevor Cunningham added 12 points apiece for Northwestern (8-14 overall, 6-12 Colonial League).
Catasauqua (8-13, 8-10) was led by Isaiah Graves with 27 points.
The Falcons outscored Southern Lehigh 70-60.
A mad Bethlehem Catholic wrestling team is one that nobody wants to see in Hershey, but that’s probably what the opposition is going to get after the Hawks 54-12 demolition over Cumberland Valley Monday night in the preliminary round of the PIAA 3A team tournament.
The Hawks opened with falls in three of their first four bouts from Ryan Zeiner (170), Mikey Labriola (182) and Andrew Balukas (195) and went on to win 11 of the 14 bouts to outclass the visitors.