In the finals basketball games of the 2016-17 Eastern Pennsylvania Conference season, Bethlehem Catholic knocked off Allen, the state’s top ranked team, while several other games were contested on the league’s final night before Friday’s playoffs begin.
For more about your local teams see this week’s editions of the Lehigh Valley Press.
The Golden Hawks handed the state’s top-ranked team its first loss of the season, 68-56 in overtime.
The Salisbury and Northwestern girls basketball teams had polar opposite games offensively and defensively.
The Falcons were unable to score double digits until the third quarter, but the Tigers reached the 30-point mark before then.
Northwestern (12-5 overall, 8-3 Colonial League) used its size and defense to stifle Salisbury (10-7, 6-5) into its second lowest scoring effort on the season as the Tigers won 50-25 last Thursday night at Salisbury High School.
Just call them marathon men.
Three matches. One day. And almost a fourth.
Northwestern once again went through the gauntlet at the District 11 Team Championships Saturday at Freedom High School.
Only this time, the Tigers were unable to successfully navigate the same course they charted a year ago at Joseph J. McIntyre Gymnasium.
After losing to Saucon Valley 63-9 in the championship semifinals, Northwestern responded with a 42-30 win to bounce Pen Argyl and advance to the consolation final.
But Northwestern’s run ended there.
The Colonial League announced its boys and girls playoff brackets this week. Six boys and girls team advanced to the league playoffs and opening round action begins on Saturday, Feb. 11, for both the boys and girls.
At the top of the boys bracket, three-seed Salisbury plays host to six-seed Moravian Academy at 7 p.m. The winner of this game advances to play second-seed Southern Lehigh. This game takes place at Catasauqua at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 15.
The Tigers beat Catasauqua 77-73 on a three-pointer by Ryan Hippensteel with 6.8 seconds left in the game.
Hippensteel, a senior playing in his final high school game, scored a career-high 13 points in the game, while teammate Rob Seyfried had 29 and Sam Yadush and Trevor Cunningham added 12 points apiece for Northwestern (8-14 overall, 6-12 Colonial League).
Catasauqua (8-13, 8-10) was led by Isaiah Graves with 27 points.
The Falcons outscored Southern Lehigh 70-60.
With the way the fourth quarter had started, Northwestern was fortunate enough to get a potential game-tying three-pointer off in the final seconds. And a wide open one at that.
Pen Argyl led by 14 points on two separate occasions early in the fourth, but Northwestern was able to steadily chip away. That set up the possibility for overtime with the Tigers down by three points with 9.5 seconds to play.
Salisbury High School center midfielder Ethan Heydt and Quakertown High School forward Victoria Sturgess were named 2016 Soccer Scholar Athletes at the Lehigh Valley Soccer Scholar Athlete Awards Banquet on Jan. 29 at Northampton Memorial Community Center in Northampton.
Heydt and Sturgess were among 76 nominees from 40 high schools throughout the area who were selected jointly by their coaches and the school administration. The Soccer Scholar Athlete Committee then selected the overall winners.
Northwestern was well aware of how good a team Saucon Valley has this season.
Back on Jan. 4, the Panthers visited the Tigers and came away with a decisive win.
Monday night in the Colonial League Tournament, Northwestern and Saucon Valley had a semifinal rematch.
The result was almost identical.
Saucon Valley, the top seed and undefeated in the league this season, rolled to a 66-6 victory, which propelled it into the finals against Bangor.
Saucon went on to defeat the Slaters, 47-17, and claim its fifth straight league title.
Northwestern head coach Chris Deutsch couldn’t remember a season where he had just one senior. This year’s team has just one outgoing member, Paige Stitzel, and she got the start on senior night as the Lady Tigers defeated Pen Argyl 56-34 in a Colonial League girls basketball game.
Not only is Stitzel special for being the solo member of this year’s senior class, but also for the work she put in over the years and for what she gave up to have that spotlight of the Northwestern Lehigh High School Gymnasium during pregame on Tuesday night.
At the start of this 2016-17 basketball season, junior Trista Cunningham became an upperclassman, and with that had to take on a leadership role on the Moravian College women’s basketball team.
The 2014 Northwestern Lehigh High School graduate has seen a change in her mindset around the game and in the classroom, and it has benefited her and her program this year.