Girls reach Sunday at Stellar Tourney
A goal for most teams playing at the Stellar “Catch A Rising Star” Basketball Showcase is to advance to Sunday, the final day of the four-day event. Another goal is for those teams to see improvement.
The Northwestern girls were fortunate enough to accomplish both goals. The Lady Tigers won three of their five games before their run came to an end on Sunday afternoon against eventual champion Allen, 43-23, at Cedar Beach Park.
“I said the goal this week is to keep getting better, to improve and develop our players,” head coach Chris Deutsch said. “We’re not in a summer league.
“We’re trying to develop depth right now. To me, what we’re looking at is to solid-up the bench. You just don’t rely on five or six girls. That’s the goal right now, to develop some of these younger girls.”
With the team losing leading scorer Erika Thomas, a Colonial League First Team all-star, and fellow senior Mikaela Koenig to graduation, a number of new faces will need to step up with larger roles. Stellar was the start in that transition.
Leighanna Lister, Gabby Sevrain and Jessica Williamson are the three returning starters from the winter season. Those three and lone senior Paige Stitzel, junior Abby Chisdak and freshman Sydney Sevrain, figure to take on larger roles this winter.
“We’re going to have to share the wealth,” Deutsch said. “We have to get different girls contributing, and we have a couple of ninth graders coming up that I think are going to get some varsity time this year.”
It began with a win over Boyertown’s JV team on Thursday that advanced Northwestern to a second-round meeting Parkland. The Lady Tigers came up five points short of the Lady Trojans on Saturday, when games were moved inside to Whitehall High School due to weather conditions.
That loss seemed to fuel Northwestern. The Tigers disposed of Upper Perk 40-11. Two hours later, Northwestern capped its Saturday with a 39-28 win over Boyertown’s varsity team.
The Lady Trojans may have defeated Northwestern Saturday, but Deutsch saw how his team would stack up against one of the area’s elite.
“Parkland is Parkland,” Deutsch said. “They play well together. They shoot the ball well, and they move the ball. We were ahead by one with two minutes left. It was going back and forth, and they just made a couple more plays at the end.”
The Northwestern boys team was dealt a tough draw in the Stellar tournament. Although the Tigers went 0-2 over the course of Friday and Saturday, their trip wasn’t a lost cause by any means.
Dieruff handed the Tigers their first loss of the tournament, 34-19 on Friday night. The following afternoon at Parkland High School, eventual champion Pocono Mountain West defeated Northwestern 70-33. The Cardinals, who defeated Whitehall for the championship, ran into little trouble throughout their tournament run.
“This was good for us,” Tiger head coach Bill Hallman said. “We went out to West Virginia for a team camp a couple of weeks ago, and then we go down and see two good teams at Stellar. I was kind of glad with the two teams we got because I want to get a gauge where our younger guys are.”
The boys will have to replace four starters from last year have graduated, leaving Robbie Seyfriend as the lone returning player that saw significant varsity time last winter.
But there is plenty of optimism as the team moves forward. Trevor Cunningham returns to the court after taking a year off last season, point guard Sam Yadush returns as a key piece to this squad, and a number of underclassmen figure to fill in some of those voids.
While the Tigers weren’t able to chalk up a win in this tournament, Hallman got plenty out of his team’s two-day stay at Stellar. And he’ll get to see even more of that during this week’s SportsFest “A-Town Throwdown” tournament back at Cedar Beach.
“Of course we would like to play four, five, six or seven games, but I like playing somebody different,” Hallman said. “Playing in these tournaments gives us that opportunity to see a different style of play that we don’t see in the Colonial League.”