Boys win in season finale
Northwestern head boys basketball coach Billy Hallman is very familiar with the playoffs. The former Lady Tigers’ assistant was a part of many teams that made deep runs in the league and district playoffs before he took the job as the leader of the boys’ program. Hallman wants to bring the postseason tradition to the boys’ side.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, they’ll have to wait at least another year.
The squad wrapped up its season last week with a 67-39 win against playoff-bound Catasauqua at Catty High School in Northampton last Wednesday. The victory moved Northwestern to 10-12 overall, which is one win short of a district playoff berth, and 7-10 in the Colonial League for the 2015-16 season.
“We wanted them to go out and just play basketball. Have fun,” Hallman said. “They’ve played basketball their whole careers. It is the last game for the seniors. We weren’t just going to come out and roll over. We wanted to get a win. Unfortunately, we didn’t get into the playoffs and Catty did on a tiebreaker.”
Ending the season on a high note was a goal for Northwestern, but it wasn’t the main objective. At the center of the team’s focus was Brady Mengel. The senior was just a few three-pointers shy of setting a new school record for most three-point field goals in a season. Mengel broke the record with a trey with 5.7 seconds left in the third quarter, which was immediately followed by a timeout called by Hallman to allow Mengel to get a nice ovation and share a moment with his family.
The four-year basketball player was the leading scorer in the game, tallying 30 points. More importantly, he finished with eight three-pointers on the evening and 57 this season, the new record.
“It was important to the other guys,” Hallman said about Mengel reaching the plateau. “They wanted to see him get it. He has worked hard for four years. They wanted it probably more than he did. They were looking for him. We didn’t have to tell anyone. They all knew what was going on. I couldn’t be happier for him. He works so hard. That’s our guy.”
An emotional Mengel credited his courtmates for the feat.
“I tried not to think about it too much,” he said. “I was surrounded by a great group of guys that fed me the ball all year and I couldn’t thank them enough. It’s not just my name going on the ball, it’s everyone who is on this team. I came in with a lot of confidence [tonight], I knew what the goal was and I achieved that.”
As for the game, it was all Northwestern as the Tigers never trailed in the contest. The Rough Riders tied the game at two, 22 seconds into the contest, but they were playing catch up the rest of the way.
Northwestern led 47-29 at half and extended that lead to as high as 30 points at one point in the second half.
Five seniors got the start and plenty of others got to see action as both Northwestern and Catasauqua pulled their seniors out of the game midway through the final frame to allow for ovations.
Senior Dylan Snyder contributed 15 points for the Tigers while Shaquan Mason led all Roughies with 14 points.
Continuing to talk about others, Mengel reflected on playing with the senior class.
“I’ve been playing with Parker Jones my whole life,” he said. “He is one of my best friends. Basically this was all for him. For him to be by my side through this was huge. Dustin Snyder is one of my best friends as well. Connor [Hess], Ryan [McCann], [Dylan] Lobach, all of those guys, we all are so close. It was great to get the win tonight for those guys. In the locker room there were a lot of tears shed. It was the last time I’m ever going to play on a court with my best friends.”
Hallman said he is optimistic that future seasons won’t end with the last game of the regular season.
“We are getting there,” he said. “We are getting that mentality in them that we don’t want to lose. They don’t want to lose more than they win. Last year’s seniors, they laid the groundwork. This year’s seniors took it to the next step. They pushed the younger guys and the younger guys responded. Hopefully it carries over. We are getting there. We are taking those steps.”