Many times, the second half of a basketball season finds teams wishing for an extra day off here or there. Winter weather sometimes backs games up to where teams are being stretched and coaches would like a day or two to work on some things, but they just don’t have the time.
That hasn’t been the case over the past couple of weeks as holidays slowed the Colonial League schedule and teams were just aching to play a serious game against someone other than players on their team.
When Noah Meyers first stepped on to the Northwestern High School soccer field, the first thing that Tiger coach Nate Hunsicker noticed was his quickness.
He sensed that everything else would fall into place for him as a player and that his quickness would eventually be something that the team could use in key spots later in his high school career.
Even as he was watching Meyers make key contributions to the team from his midfield position as an underclassman, Hunsicker was envisioning him filling an even more vital role in his senior season.
Hunsicker was right.
After the stretch that the Parkland girls basketball team has had to start the season, a little rest and relaxation might not be a bad thing.
The team started with tough games against Central Dauphin and defending state champion Bethlehem Catholic. From there, a win over Emmaus came before a Parkland (2-1 EPC, 2-4 overall) trip to Orlando to play three games in three days against top competition from around the country. The day after they arrived home, they had to host Whitehall (0-3, 1-4).
Oskar Lindblom is in his first season playing hockey in North America after playing pro hockey in Sweden to start his career. Obviously, there have been some adjustments to be made, which Lindblom is working on, not the least of which is playing in a smaller rink.
Most times, the early season basketball schedule can be pretty tough. Teams try to front-load games so that if bad weather hits later in the season, they have some flexibility in scheduling to put in makeup games.
For Northwestern, the boys team played seven games in just under two weeks, leaving little time for practices to work out some early season issues that may surface. On the plus side, the Tigers have come through the stretch with a 4-1 record in the Colonial League and a 5-2 mark overall.
Northwestern and Lehighton battled through 10 lead changes and both teams battled back from strong runs by their opponent, but in the end, the Indians downed the Tigers 49-45 last Friday night in New Tripoli.
Lehighton’s Skylynn Faust led all scorers with 28 points in the game and pulled down nine rebounds. The Tigers (2-0 Colonial League, 3-2 overall) actually did have some success shutting down Faust’s shooting in the fourth quarter, holding her to just one basket, but she scorched Northwestern at the line by hitting six of seven foul shots over the final eight minutes.
Northwestern coach Billy Hallman may want to renegotiate his contract to get paid for overtime after his team went to double-overtime in a loss to Pleasant Valley in the second game of the season and then two games later again went to overtime, this time beating Catasauqua 76-73.
The Northwestern boys basketball opened its season with a win in the first round of the annual Wilson Tip-Off Tournament, beating the host team and Colonial League rival 67-55 behind 25 points from Sam Yadush. The next night, the Tigers battled Pleasant Valley and went to the last second of the second overtime period before dropping a 67-64 decision on a three-point buzzer beater from Isaiah Howard.
It’s been 10 years since the Northwestern boys basketball team has put together a winning season. The Tigers fell from a 10-win season two years ago to eight wins last season. To make matters worse, they lost two of last year’s top scorers to graduation.
But it’s not all doom and gloom heading into the 2017-18 season. While Trevor Cunningham and Rob Seyfried graduated, there were a number of younger players who stepped up last season and started to show strong promise.
The Bangor Slaters looked to cap what they hope will be a turnaround season with an Eastern Conference championship. To do it, they had to beat Northwestern, which had shutout the Slaters 14-0 in the regular season.
This time around, points weren’t nearly as tough to come by, but the Tigers would have liked to have just a few more as they fell to Bangor 22-20.
Down eight points in the fourth quarter, the Tigers looked put together an 11-play drive that took just over six minutes off the clock and saw them convert two fourth-down plays late in the fourth quarter.