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.
Defending Colonial League champs look to repeat
The Colonial League basketball semifinals are over and both of last year’s championship teams are still alive to defend their titles.
The top-seeded Bangor boys team looks for its third straight league title when it takes on No. 2 Southern Lehigh in Friday’s title game, scheduled for 8 p.m. at Easton Middle School. Southern Lehigh seeks its second straight girls crown. The top-seeded Lady Spartans will meet No. 2 Notre Dame (Green Pond) in Friday’s opener at 6 p.m.
Those two words pretty much sum up what the Southern Lehigh girls basketball squad has been about this season.
The Spartans (22-1) offense was on full display Tuesday night against Northwestern Lehigh in the Colonial League postseason semifinal. Southern Lehigh’s up-tempo style paired with its ability to spread the ball around was too much for the Tigers (16-8) to handle.
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.”
Northwestern senior Ryan Hippensteel walked onto the court during halftime to begin shooting around before the second half. He walked to a precise location on the court and made three consecutive shots from that spot when he thought no one was watching.
About 30 minutes later, Hippensteel, with the entire crowd watching him, drained a three-pointer from that same spot to clinch a 77-73 upset victory over Catasauqua on Senior Night at Northwestern Lehigh High School to finish the 2016-17 season for the Tigers.
Before he took over as head coach of the boys basketball team, Billy Hallman was a part of the Northwestern girls basketball program, which has experienced a lot of success over the years.
Now Hallman wants to wage a friendly competition with his former boss, Chris Deutsch, and the girls team.
“My goal is to play further than the girls team next year,” Hallman said with a smile. “I got a little competition going with [girls head coach Chris Deutsch] and I hope he is ready because we are coming.”
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.
The Colonial League basketball playoffs got underway Saturday. While the top two seeds in boys and girls had byes into the semifinals, four quarterfinal games were contested Saturday.
For more about your local teams see this week’s issues of the Lehigh Valley Press.
Colonial League Playoffs
The No. 3 seed Falcons beat No. 6 Moravian Academy 65-54 in their Colonial League quartefinal game.
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.
With the PIAA extending to six classes in boys basketball, Northwestern could have made the District 11 playoffs, even without the .500 win-loss record. The Tigers slim chances went to none on Thursday night.
With a win necessary to keep the playoff hopes alive, Northwestern (7-13 overall, 5-12 Colonial League) fell to Salisbury, 70-45, in a Colonial League boys basketball game on Thursday night in New Tripoli.