Four league basketball champions were crowned Friday night as both Lehigh Valley area high school athletic conferences held finals.
The Allen boys and Bethlehem Catholic girls won titles in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference games, held at Freedom High School. Bangor boys and Southern Lehigh girls captured Colonial League crowns at Easton Middle School.
The Canaries pulled out to a 46-23 halftime lead and never looked back, taking the title with an 82-64 victory.
Defense and foul shooting can take teams a long way in the playoffs.
Northwestern used both to secure a 52-32 win over host Moravian Academy Saturday in a Colonial League girls basketball quarterfinal. The Tigers played lockdown defense for a nearly eight-minute stretch in the first half before knocking down all 14 of their fourth-quarter foul shots to cruise to the win.
“We played with a lot of energy today,” said Northwestern head coach Chris Deutsch. “I thought our defense was so much better than the first time we played them.”
Put aside his talent, his 6-foot-3 frame, his knowledge of the game and his incredible work ethic.
All those things have made Jonathan Blaine a great soccer player. But what stands out the most is a quality that is essential to being a great central defender.
While Blaine could have been successful at any position on the soccer field, he chose one that gets little recognition. He anchored the Tiger defense for three years. He had few opportunities to score goals or get his name in the boxscore. But that wasn’t his goal. Team wins were the first and only objective.
After a double overtime loss to Catasauqua last Wednesday, the Northwestern boys basketball team was eager to get back on the court and bounce back from its first loss of the season.
The Tigers did just that Friday night when they beat Brandywine 46-34 in a nonleague game that was played a day early because of Saturday’s snowfall.
“It’s good to get a win,” said Northwestern head coach Billy Hallman. “Wednesday was a tough one. I’m glad they moved the game up to [Friday] so we could get it in.”
Northwestern boys soccer head coach Nate Hunsicker had some of this year’s senior class as middle school students five years ago.
They let him know back then that they planned to play for him in the not-so-distant future. Some of them even told him they planned to be pretty good and maybe even win some titles.
Last week Northwestern was the team pulling off the upset. This week the Tigers were on the other side.
Bangor scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns to come back from a 19-point halftime deficit and beat Northwestern 36-28 at Bangor Memorial Park.
“This team hasn’t figured out how to finish teams off when they have them on the ropes,” said Northwestern head coach Josh Snyder. “All of our losses we’ve been up by two scores in the second half and just can’t find a way to finish things. It’s a learning process but unfortunately we’re seven games into it by now.”
Last year Northwestern and Salisbury met twice in the boys soccer postseason. They were two of the best teams in the Colonial League and were the last two standing when the District 11 Class AA championship game came around.
This year the two are again among the best teams in the Colonial League. They met last week for their first and only regular season game. They played to a 1-1 draw that allowed both to escape without suffering the first loss on their 2016 schedule.
The best thing for a good team to do after a loss is get right back to competition.
After the Northwestern girls soccer team suffered its first loss of the season Friday, the Lady Tigers were fortunate to have a Saturday morning game to shake off the loss.
Northwestern did just that in beating Liberty 4-0 Saturday in New Tripoli.
While Northwestern graduated the most recognizable piece of last year’s state semifinalist team, the Tigers have a lot of last year’s cast back this year and are expecting just as much from this season, maybe even more.
The Tigers are off to a 6-0 start to the season and while they are no longer relying on one primary scorer to do most of the damage, they are getting offense from several different players and it’s been working just as well as last year’s plan.
The DeSales Invitational, held each year in early September, is used by the area’s top cross country teams as a gauge. It gives teams an early look at the competition that they will see in league and district championship races, and some that they might not run into until the state meet.
Northwestern’s girls team had its eye on one other team specifically.
The Lady Tigers knew Southern Lehigh had the potential to end their streak of a 135 consecutive league wins, so they wanted to go head-to-head with the Spartans in a nonleague setting just to get a gauge.