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Liberty grad Kaylin West ready for D-I Coastal Carolina
By Andre D Williams
Former Hurricane Kaylin West expects to pack a mean punch by the time she reaches Coastal Carolina.
On Wednesday the Liberty graduate will sign a national letter of intent to pay at Coastal Carolina, ending a year rampage to make a Division I squad.
She's been brewing, picking up strength since graduating last June and accepting an offer to play at post-grad IMG Academy in W. Bradenton, Fl.
A near complete player when she left Liberty, West is definitely complete now.
"It paid off because I just got paid," West said last night from IMG Academy, awaiting anxiously for Wednesday to come where the next chapter of the West family will begin.
It's an impressive West legacy.
Her father, Warren, played in the prestigious Big 33 football game and is still Liberty's all-time leading basketball scorer and Kaylin's mother, Jamie was an all-conference basketball player at Easton in 1997. Her brother, Jarrod won a Class 4A football state title at Liberty in 2006 and then went on to star at Syracuse.
Kaylin has proved what seemed improbable after high school really wasn't. That's because she put in the work to succeed.
"A lot of hard work, dedication, patience and trusting the process," West described her journey.
In addition to Coastal Carolina, a member of the Big South Conference, West was also offered scholarships from Florida A&M and Wagner but Coastal Carolina gained her heart early and maintained the advantage.
"I was at a Showcase in Raleigh, NC and Coastal Carolina happened to be one of the coaches that reached out to me. I'm so happy, very excited for the next step."
At IMG, West played a junior college schedule, posting averages of 13 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals per game. Her high in points was 20 and she yanked down a high in rebounds of 18.
The eye-popping stat is the 18 rebounds but we're not talking about the relatively skinny but athletic West at Liberty.
"Faster, stronger, longer," West described her shape now. "We are in the gym till 5 o'clock everyday."
That's after clocking in at 8, making for a full work day. She was afforded that opportunity because she went to IMG to play nothing but basketball, no classroom work.
A year later Kaylin West is D-I ready.
"A hundred and 10 percent," West said about being better. "If I had another year at Liberty as the player I am now I would have shattered my points record."
 
 
Canaries dazzle in Muhlenberg Shootout:
Another memorable season may be brewing
By Andre D Williams
Stationed in Allentown, Pa. Muhlenberg coach Scott McClary has traveled extensive miles and developed valuable relationships that have helped him put off prime time evens like the Muhlenberg Shootout on Oct. 8.
There was Paul VI of the Metro Athletic Conference in Washington, D.C., the Patrick School of New Jersey with
6-foot-11 center Nick Richards who has scholarship offers from Kentucky, UConn, Arizona and Syracuse, two of the many outstanding teams to grace the Muhlenberg courts.
"I saw some great talent," McClary said. "We've been doing this for the last eight years and the last five years we've been sold out with 32 teams and a wait list. I think we're earned a reputation here at Muhlenberg of having great facilities and a good reputation with the coaches for having a well-run event. It's a good tune up for their season. I was very blessed to work down in DC with DeMatha and Bishop O'Connell I forge some relationships down there with some very high level people and I was able to get them to come up here and its helped attract other high level teams.
"At the same time we have some good teams here, some of them rebuilding and they get a good day to. Because we don't bracket for a championship we can give you games of where you are now and I think that's valuable to the coaches. They don't come here and get blown out by 30.or blowing somebody out by 30. We give you three competitive games."
Also included in that top group was a team that the Lehigh Valley knows well - Allentown's own Allen.
"They had a great day and I expect them to have a great year," McClary said. "Every year we have done this we have tried to get one of the two best teams in the area and allow them to get a shot at some of those big level teams with big level players. Allen really showed well for itself today and its fun."
While Richards was the most touted player and impressive with his multiple blocks and dunks Allen's Talek Williams and Tyrese Martin were two of the more electrifying players, both thrilling their allegiance with amazing athleticism, hops and victories.

Undefeated in the event, Allen capped off the day with a higjh octane 54-45 win over Paul VI in a game that saw Martin go down and with under two minutes left Williams came down off a mammoth dunk, took two steps and cringed to the floor.
The anguish displayed indicated a possible season ending injury but Allen coach Doug Snyder was unconcerned. That's because Williams only had leg crams the same reason why Martin went down.

"Talek had cramps, Tyrese had cramps," Snyder said. "Hopefully we've developed enough depth where we have enough players to step up. No we don't cringe. So we got a chance to play against St. Paul of Baltimore, Paul VI from Northern Virginia outside of DC and a team from Schneckedy, NY and we are only six blocks away from here."
Everybody knows where Allen is located or will be visiting it this year, memories of Allen's last greatest team flashing in their mind. That was the Ray Barbosa-led teams of the 2001-02 season.
"That season with Ray we kinda crept up on everybody," Snyder said . "With this team there is no surprise. Everybody knows about these guys. I hope that we have the same type of end of the season success that Ray's team had but it won't be any type of surprise. Obviously we have some very talented players."
Back in 01-02 it was Barbosa and a bunch of unnamed players.
"At one point we were 5-14 and we won nine straight games to male it into the playoffs," Snyder said. "We were probably 15-14 when we lost to Neshaminy in the first game of the state tournament.  To get to districts we had to win leagues
beat Central and Beca and beat Emmaus and Aaron Gray in overtime.
"It was one of those cinderella seasons. Nobody expected anything from us and it ended up being great."
The influx of AAU since the early 2000s has set the stage for Williams and Martin to get widely noticed. Scholarships offers have come as a result with Martin entertaining double-digit offers and remains undecided. Meanwhile Williams has committed to Central Connecticut., coached by Donyell Marshall.
"The Allentown guy playing for the Reading guy," Snyder said.
Ultimately Williams and Martin will be judged by their senior seasons, the number of wins Allen gets and for how far they go into the state playoffs.
The official opening day of practice is Saturday.
 
"It's going to be different," Snyder sad. "I'd rather us being a talented team and having teams coming after us than not having a talented team and having teams not worrying about us."
Whitehall's Mikey Esquillin ready to ball hard: Mikey Esquillin's fierce ball-hounding is still there. His aggressiveness is still there but also there will be his keen eye to distribute the ball and get his teammates in the score book.
"I'm changing my game up," Esquillin said. "I know I was a lot of out of control but its my last years so I'm trying to stay poised, maybe score the ball a little bit more. I know when I'm scoring we're usually winning. but when I get my teammates involved more we usually win the game."
And usually when Esquillin's knees are good the more feared player he is. Esquillin has a goal to go the season's distance this year.
"I'm getting better," he said. "My knee be tweaking out a little bit but I keep thinking about what I have to do and keep playing hard."
Parkland's Sam Iorio now senior leader: It's now Sam Iorio's time to lead at Parkland but the senior doesn't have as much talent around him as past Trojans seniors.
But it's still Parkland and Iorio expects the success will be the same.
"I think you can expect us to be right where we left off," Iorio said. "I'm going to be the player I need to be from game to game, whether its scoring or rebounding."
The main thing is that Iorio will be on the court as his high school career began. Apparently the next level will also begin that way which is why Iorio chose American over other suitors.
"Playing time right away," Iorio said. "It will allow me to show my skills. It's a great location in DC and hopefully we'll win a Patriot League championship."
Emmaus' David Kachelries chooses NJIT: By the time he arrives at NJIT next fall Emmaus' David Kachelries hopes to be more dazzling with his dribble and sharper with his shot.
Already considered a blue chip recruit Kachelries sees areas of improvement he wants to address this season..
"I've been working a lot on my shot, get my handle tighter," Kachelries said.
Of his colllege choice all the pieces seemed to fit.
"It's a great fit, a guard oriented team and I feel good about going there," Kachelries said. "I know a lot of the coaches real well from the Hoop Group events. I like the atmosphere around campus from when I was down there for my visit I'm really excited about the million dollar arena going up."



 

Ex-Hurricane Kaylin West to play at IMG Academy

By Andre D Williams
Hurricane Kaylin West is headed to Bradenton, Fla. and she hopes to pack much punch.
West, a two-sport star at Liberty was not impressive enough a scorer so she didn't receive any D1 scholarship offers but she's not packing her basketball away.
Instead West is taking her dazzling crossover dribble to IMG Academy in Florida and like most Hurricanes she's coming wreak havoc.
"This way I can just focus on basketball and get to where I need to be the next four years," West said.
That's exactly what the ex-Hurricanes star is going to be doing. She will be taking no classes, just distributing balls and scoring a little more than in high school.
."I think if you're not averaging 20 points a game your name is not really heard of," said West, who averaged 13.4 points, 4.4 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 3.4 steals per game.
IMG is a post-graduate program where West will get to be viewed regularly by D1 recruiters, most of whom knew nothing of her when she was serving people up in high school.
"I just felt disrespected in a way because a lot of people didn't respect my game," West said.
Those were the ignorant people.
"If you need me to score too I can do it," she said. "But that's not gonna be my first option."
.The 5-foot-6 West is from great stock. Her brother Jarrod was a Morning Call All-Area wideout who went to Syracuse and is still trying to get a NFL free agent contract. Her father Warren was more storied in Liberty's athletic annals after starring in football and basketball in the 1980s.
Now it's Kaylin's time and she's blessed with superb athleticism that helped her go coast-to-coast to score many times at Liberty. Often she was the best player on the court even when playing against Parkland.
"I don't think I, or any other player should have to average 20 points a game in order to get noticed," West said. "Everyone has a role and I feel like I'm more of a floor general, here to control the game.
She will start at IMG on Wednesday.

 

Bonner coach Ron Wilson has lived a great basketball life
By Andre Williams
Ron Wilson has lived quite a basketball life that includes the 6-foot-10 Wilson being the player of the year and a McDonald's All-American in high school, winning a Big East Conference title and a NIT title at Villanova, pro stints across the world and with the Harlem Globetrotters  and now as an assistant coach at Bonner of the Philadelphia Catholic League.
But Wilson would give back all his awards and acclaim for his son Jake to experience an extinction of his basketball playing days.
That's up for grabs now as the 6-6 Jake battles his bout with marfan syndrome.
"I have an enlargement in my chest which pretty much doctors have me restricted from playing basketball," said Wilson in a recent visit to the Lehigh Valley.
Though Jake did not play he entertained anybody that noticed the rim at East Side Youth Center rocking from a series of powerful and athletic dunks.
Playing for his dad, the head JV coach at Bonner and a varsity assistant, has long been a dream of Jake.
"From when I was a child to not forcing me to play basketball to when I actually fell in love with the sport and I wanted to play to being behind me all the way to helping me to where I am now," Jake said.
And it is the present that pains Ron.
"Unfortunately, my son didn't get the chance to play because of a heart condition he was diagnosed with," Ron said. "That was devastating for him, myself and the team from having played all summer and did well. To be diagnosed with that was tough on him. It's one of those things where you've got to bite the bullet and stay positive and he has. He was at every practice to help them perform drills and he's just a great kid."
Jake is the son of a man who's been to the top of the mountain and now tries to direct younger players to rise themselves. He does it with a caring, jovial attitude while standing tall on the sidelines.
"I just want my kids to enjoy it," Ron said. "This is such a beautiful time. When I look back at my high school career and it was gone like that and you can't get it back. The thing about this game is that everyone wants to take it too serious. It's just a game, a game that you go outside to the playground, get five of your friends that can play and you play."
At Bonner Wilson is coaching an upstart program. Without his son he doesn't match up with the taller teams but in a recent running clock game at East Side Youth Center against powerhouse Imhotep Bonner went basket-for-basket until the Panthers pulled away to a 36-30 victory.
"That's the great thing about basketball," Ron said. "It doesn't matter your size. You see we are small. We are very small but we play together, play as a team, try to stick to our assignments. If we make a mistake we're not going to dwell on it.. As long as you got a great experience out of it that's all I can ask."
As a player Ron always got the best out of his ability. As a senior at Cardinal Gibbons High in North Carolina Ron averaged a triple double and was named the Wade County Player of the Year, then he went to Villanova and his points melted down.
But Villanova coach Rollie Massimino had another role for Ron to play and he handled it well.
"I only averaged seven points a game," Ron said. "I had Kerry Kittles. I didn't have to average no more. All I had to do was rebound, play defense and block shots. I've got a national championship ring and a Big East championship ring out of that. Sometimes I tell my players all the time that everybody can't be the super star. Somebody's got to go out there and do the dirty work. Those are important players."
At Bonner he's trying to develop players alike and he'll have them if the players just listen. PCL games are always war.
"I tell people all the time that we're in the best league, not just in the state but the whole country," Ron said. "You've got Roman, Neumann Goretti, you've got Carroll, Conwell-Egan. You've got Ryan now with a new coach and you've got La Salle. You are talking about some of the pinnacle programs that have won state championships in the last 10 years
Last year three of the four state champions came from the Catholic League in Roman, Neumann Goretti and Conwell-Egan so it says a lot about the level of play in our league and we are just trying to elevate our players to compete against them."
Parkland's Devante Cross wins 8th district gold in 68-49 win over Bangor
By Andre D Williams
After Parkland's masterpiece was over the orchestrator of the Trojans 69-49 District 11 Class 4A Championship victory over Bangor went for his bag of seven gold medals.
Devante Cross had a final addition, a fourth district gold medal to go with four district gold medals he won in football.
"There's no greater feeling than being able to go through your high school career winning district championships," said Cross, who had 11 points multiple assists.
Many of his dishes were to junior Sam Iorio, who nailed a 3-pointer on his first field goal attempt on is way to a game-high 22 points.
Cross drove the lane as he pleased, scoring off a number of athletic twisting layups. He was in a zone, something he knows he'll need to be in in the state tournament.
With Cross as the starting quarterback Parkland was toppled 21-18 by Pittsburgh Central Catholic for the PIAA Class 4A football championship in December.
"I've already lost one and I want one," Cross said. "I think with think with this group of guys we can go that far. As long as we play our game, stay focused we'll be fine."
Undersized and undermanned Bangor (25-2) was never a match. Cross' dazzling drive and layup put Parkland ahead, 12-5 after one quarter and the rout was on as the Trojans clicked on all cylinders on both sides of the ball.
"Sometimes it does. sometimes it doesn't but tonight, I think defensively we played great," Parkland coach Andy Stephens said. "I think we wore them down over 32 minutes. I think our size got to them and I think that's the best we played over the last three weeks."
Now its on to the PIAA tournament where the Trojans (25-3) will meet District 1's No. 8 seed Connestoga (18-9) Saturday at 6 at Freedom.
The Trojans tuned up for states with a relentless performance against Bangor.
"Coach keeps on us about not letting up because if we do that at states for a second then you can be down a lot," Iorio said. "We play our game. We can't wait for states."
For Stephens who has had the best team in the area over the last two years the state run will be a continuation of what the Trojans did to Bangor.
"I think they played great together," Stephens said. "They played unselfish. They played hard, just s real gritty performance. If we play like that, especially on defensive end we are going to be in real good shape come state tournament time. We need to put that effort out every time which I think we will."
 
 
 
 
Bangor loses district title to Parkland, 68-49, dream season continues
By Andre Williams
For Bangor the highs were few, the disappointments large and the outcome fatal.
The Colonial Leagues best team was no match for powerhouse Parkland, succumbing 68-49 in the District 11 Class 4A Championship on Saturday at Allen.
"Just making the district final was huge because during the season everybody said we can't even win a game in districts," Bangor's Dylan Benton said.
Bangor (25-2) won two games, upsetting Whitehall and Pocono Mountain West to get to Parkland.
And for a few seconds a 3-pointer by Michael Martino early in the first quarter gave the underdog and greatly undermanned Slaters their only lead, 5-3. A three-point play by the Trojans Sam Iorio not too long after that put Parkland ahead to stay and everything was dim the rest of the game for Bangor. 
"They are the third ranked team in the state and we played them in the summer," Bangor coach Bron Holland said. "I've been coaching for a lot of years and they are the hardest team I've ever prepared for because they have no weaknesses. They can shoot the ball and [Devante] Cross is just a stud."
Though Cross had his way on most of his drives the Virginia football commit earned admiration for the Slaters' hustle and determination against insurmountable odds.
"They played great," Cross said. "They never quit even though they were down a little bit. They never hung their heads. That's a great outlook for the team."
Given no chance to beat Parkland the strings played out as expected but the Slaters making it to the title game was an amazing ride.
"These kids have played together since second grade," Holland said. "We're in the 4A bracket and when we got there five or six years ago we never made any excuses. We just said we gotta get better. We've got to hit the weight room. We got beat by Parkland in districts, Emmaus. This year we finally beat Whitehall, had a great win against [Pocono Mountain] West.
"So coming in we had confidence but we knew we had to play the perfect basketball game. As Bobby Knight always says the guy who rides the bigger horse usually wins. The better team won.
The packed Bangor stands stood and applauded at games end.
"I think everybody that watched us, our fans said they like watching us," Benton said. "We hustle, we play together and we tried to come out here and do a good job. We knew they were going to be tough but we gave all our heart."
 
Parkland trusts Kenny Yeboah in 59-39 rout of Liberty in district playoffs
By Andre D Williams
In Kenny Yeboah Parkland trusts and will continue to trust.
There are bigger and more athletic fish to fry than Liberty and the Trojans believe that the 6-foot-6 Yeboah is capable of cooking.
Yeboah was certainly cooking Saturday, scoring a career-high 21 points to anchor the Trojans 59-39 District 11 Class 4A quarterfinal rout at Freedom.
The Trojans game plan was to indirectly go into Yeboah but after having his shot blocked by 6-8 Andrew Hudak twice early on Yeboah asserted himself potently in the lane. He muscled up over Hudak and 6-7 Cameron Hoffman, using either one at his beckoning.
"Coach told me to back my opponent into the paint and so I could finish near the rim so that's what I did," Yeboah said.
Yeboah scored 12 points in leading the Trojans to a 37-15 advantage at halftime and he opened the second half operating as efficiently.
"I just tried to stay aggressive and taking the ball to the hoop," Yeboah said. "They weren't double teaming so that's what I kept doing."
Should Parkland qualify for the PIAA tournament as expected Yeboah could likely be matched up against 6-8, 6-9 or 6-10 but he won't be fazed and the Trojans will trust in him.
"When I played AAU I played against a kid 6-10 and I had 15 points against him," Yeboah said. "I just have to accommodate to what other players have. If I'm quicker than them then I'm just going to try and go by them. If I'm stronger than them then I'm going to push them into the post and finish near the rim."
Parkland coach Andy Stephens believes that Yeboah's performance against the 6-8 Hudak and 6-7 Hoffman is confirmation of Yeboah's ability.
"He can do that against anyone because he's 6-6 and athletic and stronger than most guys he plays," Stephens said. "He struggled. He had two shots blocked early but he went back at them and that's a credit to him."
Liberty coach Chad Landis, whose team closed the season 13-12, has had enough views of Yeboah and he's got an experts opinion on what he can and cannot do moving forward.
"I don't think he has to do it every night," Landis said. "He just has to do it on night's when people concentrate on matchups somewhere else. They have so many tough matchups that I don't think he's going to have to. One of them is going to have to do it every night but they are so talented."
 


 

Matt & David Kachelries
Emmaus Kachelries twins throttle Allen in 48-43 district playoff win
By Andre D Williams
In a game featuring better leapers Emmaus junior David Kachelries decided to test his jumping ability and it didn't work out well.
Kachelries missed his dunk attempt. Unfortunately for Allen Kachelries didn't miss too much more, sinking two free throws with seven seconds left to provide the final points in a 48-43 District 11 Class 4A quarterfinal victory at Freedom.
"I got new shoes," Kachelries said. "They weren't wore in so I had some and I switched them out and I was fine in the second half."
So too was his brother Matt. Combined they scored 38 points, backdooring Allen to death and popping relentless jumpers in the Canaries face.
"The shot was open," said David, who scored 23 points. 3 assists and 3 steals. "We prepared well for this game. We came out with a game plan, stuck with it and won."

Normally the Kachelries twins shoot the opponents lights out with 3s but on Saturday they attacked the basket with reckless abandon.

"We tried to make all our shots," Matt said. "We got a lot of backdoors for layups."
But as potent as the brothers were they couldn't put away Allen () without a furious Canaries rally, led by star Talek Williams and Tyrese Martin (18 points). Down 42-30 in the fourth after surrendering 12 straight points Allen began its memorable rally.
Martin and Williams collected multiple mammoth rebounds and Williams (nine points) had two nasty alley-oop slams as the Canaries rallied to within 42-41, then the sink fell out. Matt got his hand on the ball and scored.
The last four points belonged to David, who beat the Canaries scrappy press with a blazing dribble down the baseline to score on a layup for a 46-42 lead with 25 seconds left. Martin then made 1 out of 2 free throws before David was fouled to close out the game and send the Green Hornets to a fourth meeting with Parkland this year.
"We are 0-3 for the season but every time we've gotten closer and closer so hopefully we'll be the one that comes out with the win," David said.

Emmaus coach Steve Yoder is glad he's going to another war with the twins.

"They were awesome tonight," Yoder said "Really fortunate to have them. They are growing before our eyes. They are doing things besides scoring that really excites me, defensively and leadership and I couldn't be any happier for them."

For Allen it was a second straight defeat after playing excellent basketball.
"They ended our season last year in this round and beat us twice and this year we beat them twice," Yoder said. "I always laugh when I talk with Doug. I say. 'It's Allen and Emmaus and it's going to go down to the wire,' and of course it did.
"There is nobody I respect more than Doug. What he does for his kids and his program and the way they play. They are the class of the Valley and to have an opportunity to play them so much and beat them a couple times means a lot to me and our staff."
 

Zay Jennings stellar Career is over at Central Catholic
By Andre D Williams
Central Catholic star Zay Jennings made an accurate forecast after Friday night's season ending 55-46 loss to Bethlehem Catholic in the District 11 Class 3A quarterfinals at Allen.
"The sun is still going to come up tomorrow," said Jennings, who was held to just 14 points by Golden Hawks guard Micaiah Fraction.
But Jennings future as a Viking will be no more. It began two years ago when the Vikings carried a 29-0 record into the state quarterfinals against eventual state champion Neumann Goretti and lost.
Then a sophomore Jennings was known for his sweet jumper. It was a glum jumper Friday.
"I give Beca a lot of credit," Central Catholic coach Dennis Csensits said. "I thought they did a really good  job of defending him. It was a low possession game. It's tough to get a lot of shots, score a lot of points when there aren't a lot of possessions.
"We typically play 60 possession games. I think that was a 40 possession game."
And Jennings had to work for his 14 points against a stubborn defender unwilling to give ground.
"We worked the last four practices in denying," Bethlehem Catholic coach Ray Barbosa said. "-*Coach [Garrett] Johnson was Zay Jennings and we worked on denying him and packing the paint. We wanted to make it tough for him to make shots and make him tired come the fourth quarter.
Jennings 14 points were non-hurtful.
"That's what we wanted," Barbosa said.
Jennings summed up his performance as just a bad game.
"That was me," said Jennings when asked about Fraction's defense. "I  give credit to Beca. They played solid five-man D. Shots just didn't fall tonight. I don't know why."

While that may be unexplained Csensits acknowledges the great three years Jennings had since transferring from Allen.
"He had a great career,"Csensits said. "I said to him that you've got nothing to hang your head at. It's been fun to watch his game evolve over the last two years because he went from being a shooter to being able to score in a lot of ways. It was fun to watch, to be a part of."

Bethlehem Catholic's Micaiah Fraction's 'D" a key to 55-46 district win  over CCHS
By Andre D Willams
It was senior vs senior, scorer vs defender and the stakes were high.
For the first time this season it was Bethlehem Catholic against Central Catholic with the winner moving on, the loser turning in their uniform and the significance of the matchup had Golden Hawks guard Micaiah Fraction pumped up all week leading up to the District 11 Class 3A quarterfinal matchup at Allen.
Led by Fraction's ball-hounding of Vikings star Zay Jennings Bethlehem Catholic turned the first meeting this season into a golden adventure, winning 55-46.
Fraction was assigned to guard Jennings most of the game and he turned the challenge into a personal conquest, often forcing Jennings (14 points) to force shots and stay out of rhythm.
Excited over his first half stoppage of Jennings Fraction (17 points) opened up his offense in the second half, proving most effective during a stretch of the fourth quarter when he scored seven straight points for a 39-33 lead.
"It was definitely one of my best basketball games," Fraction said. "I knew this was an important game and in important games you've got to show up. I was thinking about that all week. I think I did a pretty good job."
In all, the Golden Hawks rattled Central Catholic with a 13-0 run to start the fourth quarter before Jennings popped a 3 with 3:57 left, trimming the deficit to 43-36.
Fraction's tenacious defense in keeping Jennings out of groove was a key to the Hawks victory.
"Zay is a good player and all week at practice the coaches were on us saying we can't let him have a big night,".Fraction said. "We played lock down.defense, we executed and didn't get lazy."
Bethlehem Catholic coach Ray Barbosa had nothing but compliments for the 5-foot-7 Fraction.
"Miciah played well," Barbosa saidl. "I get on him a lot because I see his potential, see what type of energy he can bring. He showed me tonight what kind of defense he can play. He jump started them and it was great."
Bethlehem Catholic (15-9) earned the misfortune of playing Pottsville next in the semifinals Tuesday night. The Crimson Tide advanced with a 52-31 destruction of Lehighton.
Pottsville (25-0) is 53-1 over the last two seasons but the unimaginable is possible. Bethlehem has solid guards play in Fraction and DeAndre Tillett but the Hawks also have muscle in 6-3 Julian Sprigner and 6-4 Andrew Posch both of who revounded with force while main enforcer Kweku Dawson was out of the game in foul trouble.
The 6-5 Dawson play will be the utmost crucial for the Hawks to keep on playing past Tuesday. On Friday Dawson had his way early on against Central Catholic (13-11), using his athleticism and great leaping ability to score with ease.
It was Dawson's first ever playoff victory.
"Get the bigs the ball in the beginning cause they couldn't handle us," Dawson. "You could see that because they had to help off so I just tried to create stuff, find the open shooters when they doubled down."
Fraction may be summoned on again to halt another guard and he'll be ready as he was on Friday.
"It obviously boosted our confidence making it tougher for him to get off shots," Fraction said. "We just couldn't let up. We just kept playing hard D and that was key points to the game."
Emmaus' Josh Artis is the future of the program
By Andre D Williams
No one player was better than Emmaus sophomore Josh Artis.
Bonner of the Philadelphia Catholic League as a team was more athletic and faster, resulting in a 29-27 victory over the Green Hornets in the JV semifinals on Sunday at East Side Youth Center.
But no one Friars player was better than Artis, who stood out on the court with his menacing play
Artis had a one-handed dunk in transition and on the next trip down court he threatened to throw down again but was undercut. He had a number of blocks, alterations, rebounds and points.
Though he was playing against players his own age the 6-foot-6 Artis had more experienced because this season he's played on both the varsity and junior varsity teams.
"Practicing varsity and bigger people ther4's high intensity and bigger people," Artis said. "I'm used to playing varsity now."
Artis doesn't play much on the varsity but Green Hornets coach Steve Yoder called Artis the "future face of the program."
His development has been fast since he's been at Emmaus.
"Josh only started playing the game a few years ago," Yoder said. "He didn't play the game when he was younger and to see considering where he was at when he started playing is impressive."
Bonner had no answer for him which will be a theme for other Eastern Pennsylvania Conference teams.
'I think I've improved a lot," Artis said. "Last year in AAU I played with the JV team. They played really fast."
His transition on every level has been smooth.
"There's a big jump from freshman to JV and JV to varsity but Josh has been playing against older kids and that has benefited him in practiced," Yoder said. "We're really excited about what he's going to do for us this summer and next year."
Imhotep JV champion: The war in Philadelphia came up North and it was a battle of the ages that Bonner and Imhotep staged.
Back-and-forth they went until Imhotep's point guard Fatayn Wesley sealed the 36-30 victory with a free throw and then a steal and layup with less than 10  seconds left.
Wesley's layup put Imhotep ahead, 34-30.
"Defensive energy," said Imhotep coach Stan Williams about the key to victory. "Once we picked up our energy we're a tough team to beat."
The colorful Bonner coach Ron Wilson knew his upstart team was in for an uphill battle against taller Imhotep.
"They have a lot of talent, no doubt about it and we played hard," Wilson said. "They are bigger than us. We just competed. I don't like to lose. We'll be back next year and hope to play them again."
Bonner beat Imhotep in the finals last year.
"We came back looking for some revenge," Williams said. "I'm really happy that we played them because I knew they had some talent and they are really well-coached. Have nothing but respect for them."
Bonner, which beat Conwell-Egan 49-47 for their first Catholic League win since 2011, had been riding an emotional high.
"I don't believe in period victories but I believe in two teams playing hard and doing their best," Wilson said. "That's what it came down to - 36-30 is a good game. We were overmatched every position and we still fought. I can't ask for anymore than that."
 
Pennsylvania Jr High Tournament Notes
By Andre D Williams
Longtime Lehigh Valley AAU coach Derek Mims can't help but win.
He's the father of two dazzling Freedom eighth grade twins, Caleb and Malek, both of whom can fill it up.
Caleb nailed a number of long 3-pointers but it wasn't enough to outstage Emmaus. The Green Hornets size and balance was the difference in a 48-34 victory at East Side Youth Center today.
"The championship coming through Freedom," Mims proclaimed. "The 2019, 2020, 2021 we are loaded. I'm looking forward to it."
With his lightening sons everyone knows why he's so gung-ho. On Saturday the Mims twins competed against Allen twins, Brian and Ryan Santana.
"I wanted to come here and let everybody see them because a lot of people haven't seen them," Mims said. "I wanted to show them what level they are on."
While Freedom may be the future Emmaus is the present solid program. Emmaus coach Steve Yoder didn't mention any players names but he's loaded with pure, workaholic studs.
"It feels great," Yoder said. "They've been great all year. They finished 22-1. It's a really talented group. Another player from that group, Zack Sabol broke his leg so we're really excited about this group."
Perhaps varsity players?
"They are going to be in the mix next year, pushing the older guys for sure and that makes everybody better," Yoder said.
A better Dezonie emerges: Maybe you've seen the brute work of Central Catholic's Shack Dezonie. Well here's the artistry of a sleek Dezonie, Shack's younger brother, seventh grader Shane.
Already 6-foot-2, Dezonie doesn't operate in the low post as his brother. Oh no, Shane works from the perimeter and has the ability to shake and bake.
"I've been working out with my dad and we've been doing a lot of dribbling," Shane said.
Shane was the biggest player on the court but he was the point guard and like a point guard he distributed the ball around to his teammates.
Maybe too much given his height and scoring ability.
"I pass a little too much," Shane said "That's what I've got to work on so I  get that killer instinct, know when to shoot and when to pass."
Curious Vikings supporters may be wondering if Central Catholic is in Shane's future.
"I don't know yet," Shane said. "That's up to my parents."
 
Fun & gun Harrisburg: Harrisburg was a fun-and-gun team that delighted the crowd with no look passes and sweet shots.
That wasn't by mistake. That was planned, how they teach their players how to play.
"We teaching them in practice about practicing hard, playing hard and having fun," Harrisburg coach Mike Worrell said. "Those are the three things we teach five days a week.
Harrisburg was 17-4 this season.
"They are eighth graders so we teach them about taking real good shots. If you take real good shots you'll have fun on the basketball court."
Freshman Kyla  Smith's shooting sparks Easton in 60-47 EPC title win over Parkland
By Andre D Williams
Easton pushed the pedal at Parkland early and was not bothered in winning the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference title 60-47 at Liberty's Memorial Gymnasium Friday.
The Red Rovers won their first league title since 1970 and their cool and calm coach Dave Lutz was delighted.
"Because of what we've been through because of injuries, we've used a lot of kids and our depth really has stepped up in the last five or six weeks," Lutz said. "Kyla Smith has come off the bench and helped us in a number of games. Everyone we've called on this year has stepped up for us."
Smith, a freshman, was instrumental in Easton taking command in the first half with two 3-pointers, her second building the lead to 26-17.
"It was a good feeling," Smith said. "I'm real confident."
Her teammates feel confident when she pulls the trigger too.
"She's amazing," Shelby Stocker said. "She's been working hard and she's been making it."
Gabby Bloshuk led the Rovers with 14 points. Easton (20-4) has won 13 of 14 since Boshuk returned from a preseason injury and seem poised to make a deep run in the postseason.
"They are an athletic, physical," Parkland coach Wes Spence said. "They've got great speed, team quickness and they are able to be physical with you which can definitely be an advantage. They effectively sped us up and kept us off the boards. They created a lot of looks for themselves and because we were out of sorts."
Parkland (20-5) has won after its lost this season. The clock is ticking on the Trojans now.

"When we've lost before, we've come back and played well so we'll see what happens," Spence said. "Each game is its own individual animal and you can take things from every experience you have. Being in a champions game is a great environment to be in going into districts. You get the feeling of pressure against a good opponent. That's good experience going forward."
 

Parkland's Sam Iorio too tough in Trojans 82-74 EPC title win over Allen
By Andre D Williams
Parkland's Sam Iorio was a loaded gunman with a lot of shots in his arsenal.
He was on all night, a force that Allen had no defense for as the Trojans rode behind Iorio's 33 points to an 82-74 overtime victory in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference Championship Friday night at Liberty..
The energized crowd at Memorial Gymnasium heard the sound of pop, pop, pop most times Iorio unleashed a shot.
"It was the championship," Iorio said. "Everything was on the line. This was the last stop for a lot of our seniors, winning the league championship and we were going to go out swinging and that's what I did."
Allen was stubborn, countering with Tyrese Martin (31 points) connecting on some long bombs and sensational moves to the basket and with star Talek Williams (27 points) spending every ounce of energy in a standout performance.
Williams dazzled the crowd with three thunderous dunks, fancy no-look passes and 3-point bombs from another area code.
"I don't think there's much left," Allen coach Doug Snyder said of his teams energy. "Get a little rest for a couple days and go back to it next week."
Led by Iorio Parkland (22-3) will be the top seed in the District 11 Class 4A tournament that begins next week. Allen (18-6) will be seeded high and welcomes another shot at the Trojans.
"It's a really big loss," Martin said "I feel if we have our full team we'll be able to beat them on a different night."
The Canaries were without point guard JayJay Winslow, who was sidelined with a sore knee that he hurt in the fourth quarter in Allen's 70-65 win over Pocono Mountain West in the semifinals.
A rematch would mean going another round with Iorio. The 6-foot-6 1/2 Iorio hurt Allen with an array of shots that included pull up 3s and jumpers and muscling shots inside.
"He was great," Parkland coach Andy Stephens said. "We have different guys on different nights step up and tonight was Sam's night. That's just a credit to our team and the way we play."
Lafayette recruit Kyle Stout dropped 3s at timely times and Devante Cross came on late with some determined drives and free throws.
Allen led most of the night but Parkland gained a 70-68 lead on a Stout 3 with 1:34 left in regulation for its first lead since the first quarter. Williams tied it at 70-all with a pull up jumper with 50.4 seconds left, enabling Parkland to settle for the last shot.
Cross missed on a shot inside the lane and Iorio missed on a mid-range jumper as time expired.
"We battled the whole way," Iorio said. "We tried to win it in regulation but the shot didn't fall. Once it went into overtime it was a new game. We knew it was our game."

 
Allen's JayJay Winslow can break ankles with his dribble
By Andre D Williams
You will see jumpers fall from afar, the nets wrinkled with dunks but there's the possibility of deadly dribble seemingly breaking ankles when Parkland and Allen meet for the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference title at 8 tonight at Liberty.
Allen junior JayJay  Winslow will likely be the one breaking - breaking down his opponent.
Winslow is a speed racer with a basketball, a main reason why the Canaries survived Pocono Mountain West 70-65 in the EPC semifinals on Wednesday.
"JayJay has been much better, under control," Allen coach Doug Snyder said. "He always gets the biggest defensive assignments. He's really growing as a player. Mentally he's understanding the game more about when you can hold up the game or racehorse."
Winslow loves fastbreaking games. His opponent doesn't like it that much because it's nearly impossible to keep pace with Winslow.
"If I can get by my guy, break him down then I can get to the hoop," Winslow said. "I like to run. I like to get out and get the ball back."
Canaries superstar Talek Williams is often the recipient of an alley-oop dunk pass from Winslow.
Pakland, however, is a different animal, undefeated over the last two seasons with Devante Cross, Kyle Stout. Sam Iorio and Kenny Yeboah on the court.
Iorio came up big against Emmaus, popping a number of jumpers in the Trojans 44-36 in the semifinals. Iorio scored a game-high 14 points.
The junior is on his third year on the varsity and his experience will be key for the Trojans in their state title run.
 "He's a good player," Parkland coach Andy Stephens said. "We needed him to come through. We needed a couple guys to come through in clutch situations and he did that."
Winslow and Iorio will be big contributors tonight.
"It should be a great game, an entertaining game," Stephens said. "We haven't played them all year so it should be good."
Central Catholic's Zay Jennings and Dieruff's Dante Rockmore 1,000-point scorers
By Andre D Williams
Dieruff's Dante Rockmore and Central Catholic's Zay Jennings are both shorty's but lethal scorers who have been serving up each other since they were kids.
But it's all the other players they've served up since entering high school that has led to Rockmore and Jennings staking claim as 1,000-point scorers.
Playing against Jennings is a competition that Rockmore is going to miss.
"Playing against Zay has been very fun," Rockmore said. "A lot of people hype it up like Dante vs Zay because they know we're two of the top guards in the [Eastern Pennsylvania Conference] so yes I've enjoyed the two times we've faced each other. Don't get me wrong it is a very tough match up because Zay is a talented player in my eyes. He's the best player in our league.
"I don't really like saying someone is better than me but I have to give credit where credit is due. The kid is good."
Rockmore has accomplished something his other two brothers never did when they played at Allen. For Jennings, who played his freshman year at Allen before transferring to Central Catholic, his career hasn't been just about scoring.
"It's never about points," said Zay's father, Ed Jennings. "Unfortunately because you're good at scoring the basketball so people are going to think that's your primary focus but with Zay he'd rather win the game than score two points. That's always been his mantra and people who are not the most intelligent basketball fans only see that side of him. But there are a lot of other things that he brings to the table.
"As a basketball player a lot of those things get overlooked because scoring is the glamour but his competitiveness is pretty high and I saw that from a young age."
Both players have popular father's in the Lehigh Valley. Jennings, who grew up in the Washington Metropolitan Area, started a fall basketball league xxx years ago and has had a vocal voice about how basketball is played in the Valley.
Rockmore has had a name as a coach of Team Rockmore, a dynamic adult men's basketball team that has won several tournaments over the years, including consecutive Black Heritage Tournaments but he's more well known as the founder and executive and coach of Wall2Wall Youth Organization and he too has been vocal about how basketball is played in the Valley.
For Rockmore and Jennings playing before their fathers has been a great thrill whether they are putting it down or not. Though both their pops have coached them at different times in AAU competition dad is just dad at games and not dad/coach though you wouldn't always notice with a look up in the stands and watching the reaction of the elder Rockmore and Jennings.
"He's my dad from the sidelines," Zay said. "He gives me advice on what I did wrong and what I did right just to build on it for the next game. He never yells at me."
 

.

 
Rockmore has had to play hard for Dieruff and for dad and he's managed both well as can be expected of a 17-year-old who's younger than Allen's Talek Williams and Emmaus' David and Matt Kachelries, all three of whom will return next year.
"I love my dad," Rockmore said. "It doesn't get any better than being the son of Chuck Rockmore. Like who doesn't know him? But basketball-wise he's very tough on me, not necessarily forcing me to do stuff but yeah he pushes me to be the best that I can be.
"He criticizes me after games but that's cause he knows I can be very good so when he sees me playing below my ability he gets mad but don't get me wrong he applauds me for my accomplishments. I've had a lot of good games this year like when I scored 37 and won all-tournament team or when I reached my 1,000 points my dad was the happiest man in town that day so yes he supports me a lot."
Neither player is at the school they started out at. Jennings began high school as a freshman starter at Allen before transferring and Rockmore played his first two years at Lincoln Leadership. Points have been more abundant at their new schools.
Jennings' transfer made more noise throughout the Valley.
"It's been great," Ed said. "We've played on a team that was 29-1 and he was a contributor. It's been fun overall. I would not change our decision for nothing in the world.It's always encouraging, always trying to stay positive. I may raise eye contact with him to raise his energy and that's my biggest thing with him this year. He has to keep his energy up because the other guys are younger and they have to feed off that."
For Rockmore the move has worked out points-wise but not record-wise.
"We weren't that good this year so we needed a lot of scoring from me and our other senior Tajon Roberts."
Both marksman is at the school they seemed destined to end up at.
"It meant a lot," Rockmore said of playing at Dieruff. "A lot of good basketball players played there, Calvin Robinson and Anthony Ross and so many others."
Central Catholic was carefully chosen by the Jennings' who believe they got the better end of the deal  because of the academics and education.
"I've known this program since I moved into the area," Ed said. "If your son is going to go anywhere to play from an academic and athletic standpoint you can't go wrong by choosing Central Catholic. It's been a pleasure watching him and we're going to miss him when it's over."
Bethlehem Catholic's Jordynn Jones stars in final home game
By Andre D Williams
Bethlehem Catholic senior Jordynn Jones may have looked composed but she was overwhelmed by the moment in her final home regular season game against crosstown rival Liberty.
"it was definitely intense," Jones said Wednesday night. "It was really exciting, a little nerve wrecking at times but a really good experience."
Guess so because led by Jones the Golden Hawks stepped on the pedal from the onset and prevailed 59-52 in a matchup of Eastern Pennsylvania Conference teams.
The Hawks (14-8, 11-5) throttled Liberty through three quarters, carrying a commanding 55-36 lead into the final stanza.
 The fourth quarter often turned into a 1-on-5 showcase with Jones (11 points) and Liberty senior Kaylin West (19 points) taking on the whole  other team in transition. It made for a whirlwind of turnovers but through it all Jones kept smiling.
"I think the difference is we came out and knew we had to score," Jones said. "We did really well on defense which helped us on offense."
Bethlehem Catholic Jose Medina just let Jones run. Jones, who has given Division II Bloomfield, has D-I interest frrom Miami-Ohio, UNC-Greensboro, St. Peters and Dayton.
"Jordan did an excellent job," Medina said. "She gets up and down the floor and the bottom line is to stay out in front of her and be careful from silly mistakes."
West had some plays that would have looked good in the follies but the unsigned senior kept dropping bombs for a respectable performance in her final regular season game.
Liberty (18-5, 12-4) was never in the game. The Canes beat Bethlehem Catholic at home, 58-53 in January.
"We watched film and the second time around there, after watching film, we made some adjustments and the girls went out there and executed," Medina said.
                                                                    +

 

Becahi's DeAndre Tillett wins for coach, brother Ray Barbosa
By Andre D Williams

Bethlehem Catholic senior DeAndre Tillett was feeling it against crosstown rival Liberty, kinda of like his brother and Golden Hawks coach Ray Barbosa used to feel it.
Playing with the same flare as his older brother played with when he played at Allen against Allentown rivals, Tillett lit up Liberty for a game-high 19 points in leading the Hawks to an important 53-46 victory in a matchup of Eastern Pennsylvania Conference teams.

Because of Tillett's upbeat play and mighty inside work by Kweku Dawson (11 points, 14 rebounds) Liberty (11-8, 8-3) seemed in an uphill battle all night.
It was their Senior Night and I thought they had more energy than us," Liberty coach Chad Landis said.

Playing for their EPC lives the Hawks (13-8, 6-7) led at the start of each quarter, led by Tillett, who was unopposed at the point because Liberty senior Jeremy Johnson violated school policy and was suspended for the game.

"He goofed up in school and couldn't play tonight," Landis said.

The way Tillett played it might have been tough for anybody to keep pace with him.

"He played well," Barbosa said. "He's been playing well lately. He's going into games more focused and he's our leader.  Like any leader Tillett only needed one signature moment to get him going. That happened in the second half.
"I was feeling it in the second half," Tillett said. "I didn't start shooting 3s until the second half. I hit one in the third quarter and then I hit another. I think I hit three." From the time he entered the gym Tillett had an edge about him and he unleashed his rage on, "I was real energized," Tillett said. "It was my last home game, senior night. I was just real energized, crosstown rival. I was just real excited for it."  Nothing compares to coming into the gym everyday and being coached by your idol and older brother who brought the pride back into Bethlehem Catholic basketball

"I think he did really well," Tillett said. "We were 3-19 last season and now we're going into the EPC and we've made districts. That's my brother and not many people get this opportunity so I just take advantage of it."

 

Emmaus twins David and Matt Kachelries run show at Central Catholic
By Andre D Williams
The Central Catholic game started off like so many other ones with senior sharpshooter Zay Jennings in showtime mode, gunning in multiple 3-pointers and slicing to the basket with vengeance.
But the second half was another show by Emmaus twin brothers Dave and Matt Kachelries and that spelled double trouble to the Vikings who fell prey, 74-67 in an Eastern Pennsylvania Conference matchup at Rockne Hall.
For David (game-high 28 points) it was all about one shot to get him rolling.
"One pull-up 3-pointer I hit on the right side, my first one," David said. "It felt good and I knew that they were going to go in because everything was going in so all I needed was to keep shooting them."
In the third quarter David put an exclamation point on his excellent performance with a one-handed dunk in transition. Timeout Central Catholic in an attempt to momentarily cool off David.
It didn't work because the alarm had already been set off.
Already disgruntled over Central Catholic's 61-52 win at Emmaus Jan. 19, David unleashed his anger full-throttle.
"The twins, yeah, they don't like to lose," Emmaus coach Steve Yoder said. "I'll walk down the aisle with them any day. We may not be the most talented but we are going to leave it all out on the floor."
Matt (21 points) was just as dangerous, especially from beyond the arc and then feeding off the twins the Green Hornets (16-4, 8-3) turned a 33-30 halftime disadvantage into a 54-44 lead entering the fourth quarter.
The run overwhelmed Central Catholic (11-7, 6-5) which began the game on red alert with Jennings (24 points) splashing 3s from all over the floor, dropping 13 in the first quarter to help the Vikings to a 23-12 lead entering the second quarter.
But Jennings cooled off considerable after the first and so too did his sidekick Shack Dezonie 17 points). With neither of them staying hot the Vikings didn't have the horses to stay in the race.
"I thought one of big keys for us was Jay Vaughn," Central Catholic Dennis Csensits said. "We were rolling good in the first half and then he picked up two fouls and we had to take him out. We just didn't function too well with him out on the offensive end and then in the third quarter when he picked up his third foul and we had to take him out. We just didn't function as well and they made big runs."
With a home game against powerhouse Parkland on Monday Emmaus needed the victory to maintain momentum.
"You want to have momentum going into the playoffs," Yoder said. "You want to have momentum going at the end of the season. Everyone knows what type juggernaut the league is and hopefully it will allow us to play well against Parkland on Monday. It's all about seeding and power points."
 
 

Big Shot Cam shoots Liberty to 66-65 over Allen
Andre D Williams

It was a stage he had never been on before and Liberty's 6-foot-7 junior Cameron Hoffman handled it with poise.
And in the pivotal final seconds Hoffman faked, losing Allen's Tyrese Martin and then lined up and hit the shot of his life, a 3-pointer that lifted Liberty to a stunning 66-65 road win over in an Eastern Pennsylvania Conference matchup.
It was Hoffman's third 3 of the night, capping off a career high 29-point, 11-rebound performance.
"I always shoot with confidence," said Hoffman, who's Liberty's leading scorer at 13 ppg. "I shoot and I think it's going in. It's just a matter of it going in or not."
The play was called for Hoffman and Big Shot Cam dropped it through the nets with 4 seconds left.
"Well we called ball screen for that and told Jeremy [Johnson] to get the ball to the pop guy and we knew that Cam was hot," Liberty coach Chad Landis said. "It didn't work quite as well as we thought. Cam had to do a little more to get that open look but yeah we were going for that shot and Cameron was good all night."
Better than Allen coach Doug Snyder had ever seen.
"He killed us on the boards in the first half and he hit three 3s in the second half so he did it inside and outside," Snyder said.
The victory is sort of misleading as to the type of seasons Liberty (8-8,  6-3) and Allen (12-6, 7-3) are living or is it?
"Our issues have been mental, not physical and we've just got to get smarter," Snyder said.
Liberty now has a new outlook on the season and Hoffman figures heavily into the plans.
Hoffman was definitely feeling good when he canned back-to-back 3s for a Hurricanes 56-55 lead in the fourth quarter with both teams exchanging baskets.
"It was a big game but there's more of that to come," Hoffman said.
Landis hopes so.
"We knew Cameron was capable of that," Landis said. "He's got a full complement of offensive skills. It was just a matter of him putting it all together on one night. He had shown signs of all the individual parts but tonight he put it all together and man did we need him too."

ToomThoughts

 

As the season is now entering the final stretch, there are several intriguing situations on the horizon.   

 

-Ray Barbosa has done a very nice job leading Bethlehem Catholic.  The Golden Hawks have played in several close contests and have been on both sides of the ending.  These close games should give them valuable   experience as we are sure they will be in more tight affairs during the playoff run.  Beca has some favorable matchups this week and should build some momentum. 

-Stroudsburg is starting to make their traditional January run.  This program routinely starts slow, and picks up momentum after the new year.  After a strong victory over Pocono Mt West, the Mounties are in excellent position to qualify for the EPC18 playoffs.  Coach Baker states, "We are finding our niche and figuring out our identity in this process. I believe we are peaking at the right time and we truly have put ourselves in position where we can contend for the division title."

-Speaking of the EPC18 playoffs, there is a logjam for the potentially last three playoffs spot.  Parkland, Emmaus, Pocono Mt West, Stroudsburg, and Central Catholic are in solid positions to qualify.  The last three spots are up for grabs.  Bethlehem Catholic, Freedom, Liberty, Whitehall, Nazareth, and Northampton all have an opportunity to reach the playoffs.  There are several games against each other so things will certainly figure themselves out, however i'm predicting Bethlehem Catholic, Freedom and Liberty to qualify.  

-Lookout for these pivotal guards to impact their teams in the last two weeks of the regular season:  

"The Microwave" Micaiah Fraction-  explosive combo guard that can heat up instanteously.  Expect his role to increase as Beca pushes for playoffs.

Nick King- Freedom's swingman has shifted to the point guard position and it seems to be an instant hit. It makes plenty of sense to keep the ball in his hands as often as possible.

"The Catalyst" Lucas Hudson- is playing at an exceptional level and making plays for the Spartans.  He may need to raise his play another notch to Coach Tannous squad in the hunt for a Colonial League birth.

Jack Reichenbach- the transfer student is starting to fill in nicely for a very good Salisbury team. If the Falcons are going to continue their winning ways, the super soph will have a big part in it.

Shon Wilson- The Stroudsburg's wing will dictate how good the Mounties can be.  When he performs to his capabilities, his team is capable of beating most District 11 teams (22 points in win over PM West). 

Jay Jay Winslow- Jay Jay has the athletic ability to lockdown any opposing player in the league. He also shows the confidence to make big plays in tough situations. 

Rich Baker: Living the Dream

Dr. Martin Luther King stated in his ever famous “I Have a Dream” speech, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." Rich Baker, head coach of his alma mater Stroudsburg High School, seems to be living out King’s dream, as well as his own.

It’s often a dream of a former star player to come back home and coach at their alma mater. Rich Baker’s road to coaching started as an all star guard at Stroudsburg under legendary coach Shawn Thornton where he won a District XI championship. Baker continued his career at Rider University, but later transferred and graduated from East Stroudsburg University. He burst on the scene on Brad Pensyl’s Pocono Mt West staff and later was granted an opportunity as head coach at East Stroudsburg South. Family and work obligations forced him into taking break from coaching until his high school coach, Shawn Thornton, resigned last year. It was a no brainer for Baker to evaluate the option of returning home.

My journey as a head basketball coach to Stroudsburg has been tremendous. I have the incredible support from administration and our community. I find it hard to believe that their support stems from my ethnic background. I truly believe that we as a staff have done a great job getting the kids to respond and buy into the direction we felt the program needs to take.

Coaching at the school where your name hangs on their championship and scoring banners can be a pressure filled obligation. Most would also consider that by adding the status as one of only two black head coaches in the EPC18 would bring on more pressure—not Coach Baker.

I don't believe there are any extra pressures to being a minority coach. Every coach’s job is to develop and teach our young men (white,black, brown,green) on and off the court discipline. We strive to do it the right way in which there is a universal way to teaching the game. I don't believe that my success or this team’s success at the end of the season will warrant hiring of minority coaches. I believe in the process of hiring the qualified candidates based on experience and knowledge, not on race.

Basketball has become the second most popular sport in the world. Players from all nationalities love the game and hoops is now a common ground where people from various countries can come together with the same goal. Basketball is a game played by many minorities. Is a coach who is more affluent dealing with diversity a better suited coach? Should former players of diverse cultures be given more of an inside track to coach the many minority players?

I feel that we do have a mass majority of minority players playing the game, but there is diversity within this game that has made it so special across the world. With the exception of soccer, basketball has been the sport that is known worldwide and is being played in every country. Are there certain rapports that I may be able to build with minority players that other coaches couldn't? Absolutely, but there are also advantages of me being young and able to relate to my players in other ways as well such as music, movies, apparel, certain trends, etc. . I truly believe the process works and hiring of the better candidates regardless of your color is the best way to hire. There's a big difference that needs to be noted here. Playing the game and teaching the game is not the same. We have guys that where great players with tons of talent, but to teach is such a different thing. I think that's the biggest discrepancy on this issue. Would it be nice to see more black coaches absolutely, but that does not discredit the coaches who are already coaching.

Rich Baker certainly seems to be living out Dr. King’s dream to the fullest. He’s a man full of character and equality for all races, not just blacks. Baker is fully aware of his stature and holds no regrets about anything.

I am a proud black male that was raised in a community, and I will never forget who I am or where I came from. I am fortunate to be able to represent and mentor our young men in ways that are universal in culture. I take pride in my craft and teaching my kids both on and off the court conduct. Stroudsburg is one of the most diverse places you will ever visit. I was blessed to be exposed to other cultures in races growing up. I am just trying to do my part to help my community and the kids in it.

Rich Baker, WE are blessed to have you represent Dr. King’s Dream.

Bethlehem Catholic rides Kweku Dawson to 50-45 win over Liberty
By Andre D Williams
Bethlehem Catholic senior Kweku Dawson understands his job, his role on the team.
Dawson is just 6-foot-4 but he played ferociously against Liberty's bigs - 6-8 Andrew Hudak and 6-7 Cameron Hoffman - to lead the Golden Hawks to a 50-45 Eastern Pennsylvania Conference victory.
It was Dawson's first encounter against Hudak and Hoffman and in the tough stretches he prevailed over both.
"Kweku Dawson plays well," Bethlehem Catholic coach Ray Barbosa said. "He just needs to knock down some free throws but he'll be fine. He's good, a good kid, good player. We'll going to continue to play him and work hard."
Dawson's play was really big when Hawks point guard DeAndre Tillett went out with leg cramps and the Hawks manning a 42-41 lead. Tillett didn't return and Barbosa said after the game that there was no concern over his younger brother.
Scoring was still difficult for Liberty to do, in part because of the athletic Dawson and the Hawks aggressive zone defense that Barbosa showcased in the second half.
"Beca's zone defense gave us trouble in the second half," Liberty coach Chad Landis said. "We only scored 15 points. We've played well against zones at different times this year but tonight we were really bad."
Again Dawson's (14 points, double digit rebounds) shot alterations were a problem.
"I just knew that we had to control the glass because if we didn't control the glass then I can't get in there easily," Dawson said."So coaches told me to play big and box out and that's what I tried to do out there."
Liberty (5-8, 3-3) stank it up, not just when Tillett exited the game. Hoffman (11 points, nine rebounds, two blocks) continued his improved play but Hudak (two points, six rebounds, three blocks) shot so little and never got into a flow on the offensive end.
"It's been the same struggle," Landis said. "We just have to figure out a way to turn our inconsistencies. We do things well for stretches but we can't sustain them."

Bethlehem Catholic (9-5, 3-4) is enjoying a much better season because the Hawks are pushing the tempo, strapping down on defense and riding Dawson inside the paint.
"Justin Paz, the freshman played well down the stretch," Barbosa said. "He controlled the tempo. Tony Jones, a sophomore who hasn't played that much, controlled the tempo and played well. So we've got numerous guys stepping up and they played well today and helped us pull out the win."

Allen's Talek Williams raises level of play, leads Canaries to a 73-64 win over Whitehall
By Andre D Williams
Before his teammates souls were totally damaged Allen superstar Talek Williams put on an offensive showcase.
Williams' 20 first-half points, highlighted by two dunks, helped fragile Allen to an eight-point lead at the break. His scoring calmed down in the second half but not Williams' intensity.
That's his calling card. It's in use every game.
"Even though in my head we were up by 16. I don't care if we're up 100 I'm still going to go hard for my team," said Williams, who scored a game-high 27 points in the Canaries' 73-64 victory over host Whitehall in an Eastern Pennsylvania Conference matchup Tuesday night.
Ahead 36-20 late in the second quarter, Allen (9-5, 4-2) went into a funk where it couldn't hit anything or stop the Zephyrs (9-4, 3-2), resulting in a game that appeared to be out of hand being a lot closer at 38-30 than it needed to be.
Allen is one of the more athletic teams in the EPC but with fragile skin.
"We don't try to let teams hang in there," said Tyrese Martin, who had an all-around solid game with 11 points and 14 rebounds. "We try to make things easy, run our offense but sometimes some of our players get tired and when we get the lead we start to force up shots and teams get easy fast breaks on us."
Whitehall sophomore sensation Mikey Esquilin (10 points) had an off-night. If the Zephyrs energetic player was on the game might have been in doubt. Charles Hudson (20 points) picked up the slack for Esquilin but it wasn't nearly enough when the 6-foot-5 Martin and 6-2 Williams were in the game.
"Sometimes guys can't handle it but sometimes they can't handle the coaching because coach [Doug} Snyder really rips into them," Williams said. "I'm just trying to be the team captain, team leader. If coach yells at them they take it the wrong way instead of using it as motivation for the whole game. They take it the wrong way."
Williams has heard both sides of Snyder's voice but now he's well adapted and is a mature player. The Williams of the previous two seasons would have tried to win the game with some long bombs or spectacular dunks but he's more composed now.
"The second half I was really more worried about my defense," Williams said. "My defense stood out for me."

 

Bethlehem Catholic's Kweko Dawson's dominance leads to 73-60 win over Dieruff
By Andre D Williams
It might have seen like Bethlehem Catholic workhorse Kweko Dawson was riding on the shoulder of Dieruff players.
But he wasn't. He was just skying over everybody in a dominating 27-point, 15-rebound performance in leading the Golden Hawks to 73-60 victory in the opening game of the Yasso-Rothrock Christmas City Classic at Liberty.
Dawson, not happy about the Hawks 66-59 loss to Allen last Thursday, came out and set the tone early. He rose to score a layup for the Hawks first points and that motivated him as he made his first 12 shots.
It appeared Dieruff had no answer for him.
"No, I thought we had an answer," Dieruff coach Joe Jarjous said. "The refereeing was horrendous. What it came down to is ,my big guy [Tajon Roberts] gets killed they don't call anything. They get it to him we can't touch him.
"Since I got the job it's a Dieruff (1-3, 0-2) image. They hate me as a coach. Whatever it is it's a Dieruff image and I'm sick of it. That's what it is. You can call it what you want to call it but that's it."
It seemed like a man against children with the way the 6-foot-4 Dawson dominated in the post. The 6-3 Roberts (15 points, 18 rebounds) rushed a lot of his shots, perhaps weary of Dawson lurking. It was an entertaining battle but Dawson had the clear advantage.
"I think they thought they [had an answer] but they didn't," said Dawson, who transferred from Phillipsburg for better competition and exposure.
Dawson is a senior but he'll be recognized if he continues to post stat lines like that.
"Kweko did well," said Bethlehem Catholic first-year coach Ray Barbosa. "I think we did well as a team. We moved the ball good, beat the press, made the open looks. The defense was impressive too, holding them to 60. We've got a really good team so we're going to look to work to improve."
Barbosa's little brother, DeAndre Tillett ran a poised show at point guard and dropped eight points. Bethlehem Catholic (2-2, 1-1) just had more size and muscle with Barbosa bringing in 6-4 Andrew Pocsh (seven points) and 6-6 Ryan Young often, continuing to make matters tough on the Huskies even when Dawson wasn't on the floor.
"We were prepared for this style," Barbosa said. "The last three games we played the same similar style. It worked for us today and we got the victory."
.

 

Zay Jennings shoots down Freedom, leads Vikings to 55-42 win
By Andre D Williams
Zay Jennings popping a 3-pointer is going to be a theme of Central Catholic games this season.
Freedom knew about Jennings' lethal shooting but it was Jennings at first beating the Patriots off the dribble en route to the basket.
But whether knowing or not what Jennings is going to do but stopping 6-foot harpshooter is a another issue.
Jennings scored 28 points to lead the Vikings to a 55-42 victory on Sunday in the Yasso-Rothrock Christmas City Classic at Liberty.
"Everybody knows me as a shooter but I'm trying to work on other things, get other people involved," Jennings said.
"He is a very good basketball player," Central Catholic coach Dennis Czensits said. "I thought our guys were very unselfish and did a great job of finding him in transition."
It's Jennings' poetic 3 that stirs the crowd and excites his teammates. Jennings didn't nail his first 3 until the third quarter, then another and yet another to push the Vikings to a 43-27 lead after three quarters.
Athletic Freedom (3-2, 2-1) was missing on offense, shooting 15-for-48 and the brick shooting included senior Najee Cash, who also had an off night when the Patriots blew a 22-point halftime lead to lose to Ben Franklin of Philadelphia, .49-44 on the opening night.
"I think if Cash doesn't go we don't go," Freedom coach Joe Stellato said. "That's been the theme so far this season. In the games we've lost he didn't play very well. I'd hate to place the blame on one guy but that seems to be the theme right now. If he doesn't go we don't go and that's got to change."
But it didn't on Sunday because Central Catholic's money player, Jennings, was on fire from the start, scoring the games first points on a blazing drive to the hoop. Then the Vikings other key players, Chris Ocasio, Jay Vaughan and Dat Lambert snagged the rebounds and won the majority of the tussles for the ball.
"I thought our guys played well," Czensits said. "I was pleased with the way we responded and the way Zay came out of the gates and got us going early. I thought we defended better as the game went along and we rebounded as the game went on and got some transition baskets and allowed us to push a lead."
Central Catholic (4-1, 1-0) began the season with a respectable 50-44 loss to Simon Gratz of Philadelphia and hasn't lost since, including an encouraging 63-56 win over East Stroudsburg  South but Czensits doesn't believe his team has found it's identity yet.
"We're still a work in progress as far as identity," he said. "We've got six or seven sophomores in our top eight that are playing a lot of minutes for us. They are young and they are learning. They're getting on the job training so to speak."
Freedom, on the other hand, is a senior-oriented team that's shown no signs of reaching its peak.

"We're athletic," Stellato said. "We get up and down the floor and we have to utilize our athleticism to get a few more offensive rebounds. I have an identity in mind. I don't know if they're playing to that role yet. We've got some guys who didn't play varsity basketball last season and they've got to get up with the speed of the game and once they get that down we better damn have an identity, getting up in people's faces and locking down as we did in the first half."

Allen superstar Talek Williams dunks all over Liberty in Canaries 72-62 win
By Andre D Williams
Allen superstar Talek Williams had so many dunks against Liberty that he couldn't name them all on Sunday.
"Wind mill, jam slam,two-handed cock back," said Williams, who had six sensational dunks in the Canaries 72-62 victory in the Yasso-Rothrock Christmas Classic.
Though a high school game, Williams showcased his AAU-like skills where his talents were unleashed.
"In AAU I have a lot of games like this," said Williams, who had 30 points with seven assists. "The coaches say, you gotta come out mad and in AAU I come out mad. Even though this was high school I felt like it was AAU."
Liberty did little to take Williams out of his comfort zone.
"We knew that he was capable of that," Liberty coach Chad Landis said. "He's been doing that stuff around here for a while. You just gotta keep him in the half-court and tonight we just weren't able to do it."
Liberty (2-2, 1-1), playing with the cards it was dealt, tried to keep pace with guard Amir Griffin racing the court. But without suspended guard Jeremy Johnson the Hurricanes were seemingly stuck in quicksand  in the later part of the fourth quarter.
Williams breaking down the court and slamming made it seem that way and his supporting cast followed suit, in particular 6-5 guard Tyrese Martin (19 points) who popped a couple 3-pointers that took the air out of Liberty in the second half.
"I realized my man wasn't quick enough to guard me off the dribble so I took a couple shots and they were falling," Martin said.
 Williams actually missed a dunk on his seventh attempt but nobody seemed displeased. The game was over and it had turned into the Talek Williams Show.

It had been a matcjhup of big vs. small, fast vs not as fast and speed won out. Liberty big men 6-8 Andrew Hudak (eight points) and 6-7 Cameron Hoffman (10 points) didn't score enough or keep pace.

"Speed, speed, speed," Williams said. "We're stopping. We're just going at them."
In one fourth quarter moment Williams rebounded from two feet away from the basket and rose to jam one-handed. The place went bananas.
"The thing about Talek Williams is he's a wonderful young man with great work habits," Allen coach Doug Snyder said. "He called me around 11:30 and asked if the gym was going to be open. 'Can I get into the gym' before we got on the bus at 4. So he's just a wonderful man with a work effort. He lives for this and he's unselfish.
"The other thing about Talek is he dropped 30 but he also had seven assists. Sometimes I gotta tell him when you are going to the rim finish because he's so unselfish that he overpasses the ball but he's still learning the game."
Watch out when he finally learns the game.
Lincoln Leadership opens new gym with a win over Notre Dame
By Andre D Williams
The Lincoln Leadership Academy students storm the court, a natural in college when the home team pulls off a major upset.
But the students did chant, "Undefeated, undefeated," and that's exactly what the Lions  are after a rewarding 63-59 victory over Notre Dame-Green Pond Tuesday night
The Lions are not only 3-0 this season but also 1-0 on their new gym court. The game couldn't have been scripted any better.
"That was our first boys game on the new court," Lincoln athletic director Dave George said. "Our girls played Saturday vs. Wilson.  However, we could not have scripted it any better."
Playing with high energy from the outside, especially in the third quarter when the Lions outscored Notre Dame 16-10 to take a 46-37 lead into the fourth quarter. That lead would be tested but the Lions relentless defense kept swarming at the Crusaders.
And the result of that was Daryl Harris forcing the ball out of Notre Dame's Austin Gregg and into teammate Ramfis Rodriguez with under 30 seconds left. Rodriguez was fouled and canned both free throws to secure the victory.
"A lot of contact but I've got to be stronger with the ball in situations like that," Gregg said.
The Lions had planned on a turnover..
"We had seen some tape of those guys so we kind a knew where they may go in certain situations and we practiced for it and that's how it played," Lincoln coach Maurice Moore said. "It was a great job and it was team defense that made that happen."
The Lions' Monty Farmer's hustle from end-to-end was a big reason for the win too. Farmer's play in the third quarter was marvelous when he scored nine points, mostly on layups and most after he shook a Crusader.
"Monty Farmer had a great night," Moore said. "He was high energy. He was all over the floor. He boxed out, he passed the ball, he rebounded the ball. Ramfis Rodriguez, I can't say enough about his outside shooting and in the last five seconds those clutch fouls shouts by Ramfis sealed the game for us."
Farmer, Rodriguez, Harris and Elijah James were a thorn in the Crusaders side.
"It wasn't a shock," Gregg said. "We definitely knew they were a good team. They came out with a lot of energy and we came out sluggish in the first quarter and we didn't pick up. "This is a disappointing loss because that was a team that we could have beat but we didn't play our best game."
Notre Dame mus be commended for taking chances on it's early season opponents. On Saturday the Crusaders lost by 13 points to Ben Franklin of Philadelphia.
It didn't seem like it was going to be Notre Dame's night from the outside with Lincoln swarming all over the court and jacking and connecting on 3s.
"We came out a little nervous tonight, home crowd, a new environment for us, great team in Notre Dame, great coaching staff, great system, well-disciplined team and we knew it was going to come down to who had the last possession," Moore said. "We talked about it in practice but I think our guys came out a little bit hungrier in the second half and it showed in the third quarter. Our defense picked up, our transition offense picked up, we boxed out"
 
 
Notre Dame gearing up for upset over Philadelphia's Ben Franklin
By Andre D Williams
Freedom nearly became the story of the night while Notre Dame-Green Pond hopes to become the story of the Jeff Dailey Memorial Tournament.
It's all about Ben Franklin of Philadelphia.
Freedom had its shot Friday, Notre Dame gets it's shot tonight and the Crusaders realize they won't be able to run-and-gun with the athletic Electrons so coach Pat Boyle has the perfect game plan.
"If we can make the game boring tomorrow and not let them get that itch then we might have some success," said Boyle, whose Crusaders beat Palisades 58-53, led by all-purpose guard Austin Gregg.
It's Gregg's smarts and toughness that has the Crusaders believing that they can actually beat Franklin. Gregg has all the tangibles - good shooter, excellent driver and a deft passer.
"He's a pretty tough player," Boyle said. "He's a four-year starter. He's gotten better each year but he's really stepped it up these last few months. We had a good scrimmage against Parkland, a good scrimmage against Dieruff. We have to make sure we don't put too much on his shoulder but he wants the responsibility.
"When you are a four-year starter nothing fazes him. He's got experience, has played high level AAU so I'm in interested to see how he does tomorrow night."
If confidence can win games then Notre Dame has a better chance than Freedom, which blew a 22-point halftime advantage to lose to the Electrons, 49-44.
The Patriots committed 30 turnovers, including an astounding 21 in the first half. It was indeed a tale of halves. Freedom will prefer the first half when sharpshooter Jason Hall wasn't in foul trouble and when Nick King was directing the action like a smooth senior.
But after Freedom took a 34-12 lead into the locker room adjustments were made, mostly by the Electrons.
 "What I needed to do was put some pressure on them," Franklin coach Larry Gainey said. "The thing is we weren't putting enough pressure on them. We were tight and let them dictate theaxh1cclbznxm
pacem"
That's exactly what Notre Dame wants to do tonight, led by the savvy Gregg.
 'I definitely think we will," Gregg said. "If we play to our strengths it will make them play to their weakness. We are two different type of teams. If we slow down the offense and run through our plays. 20 seconds and pass the ball around the arc they are not going to want to play defense and that should get us the lead."
Chico Whyte prized talent at Hooprootz event
By Andre D Williams
By the time he's finished with high school Chico Whyte might be better than Emmaus alumnus retired NBA player Aaron Gray.
The 7-foot Gray, by the way played at the University of Pittsburgh and spent nine seasons in the NBA before retiring with a heart condition
Whyte is a freshman at Neumann Goretti who Dieruff coach Joe Jarjous can only wonder how tall and how good Whyte would have been had Whyte not moved out of the Lehigh Valley.
But for a number of reasons Whyte's mother Tabitha Parks chose to move her son to Philadelphia for a better basketball and educationally life with her main goal for him to get a college scholarship.
Whyte's main goal is to follow Gray into the NBA.
Whyte's talent could have earned him a scholarship in the Valley but Parks said that it will come faster and easier in Philly. She said that this year when recruiters come to Goretti games they may not be looking at Whyte but just seeing his face that when they come back next year they'll remember seeing him.
That Parks said, is a valuable perk.
Whyte was back in Allentown displaying his improved talents at the school he would have went to at the Lehigh Valley Hooprootz event on Oct. 24 and his uncle Chuck Rockmore took particular pleasure in watching his nephew dominate the competition.
"Chico Whyte looked good, looked very improved," said Rockmore, the Hooprootz coordinator. "I think Chico going to Neumann is a win-win."
Does he mean a lost for the Lehigh Valley?
"The Lehigh Valley is gonna miss him," Rockmore said. "Not much we can do for him here."
Whyte is already 6-foot-5 and still growing but his height is not what makes the grade at Goretti. His ability to get up and down the court is what makes the grade.
"I thought I was in shape," Whyte said, "Until I went to Neumann Goretti. When I get tired they don't let me leave the floor. That's keeping me in great shape, making me more conditioned and stronger because of the weight program."
Strength appears to be Whyte's only weakness but he's got nothing but time to develop strength. In the meantime, he gets to make house calls over would be defenders.

Skillcase Standouts

2019 Justin Rockmore of Dieruff is the third of Rockmore's sons to make a splash on a Lehigh Valley court. Tyler (Mac) was the first and Dante, a senior at Dieruff just 220 points shy of 1,000 points for his career, is the second. Justin will star on the Huskies JV squad this season and may see some varsity time.  We were impressed with Justin’s ability to take it to fearlessly take to the paint. 
"As a father the experience has been great," Rockmore said. "Watching your kids do well on and off the court is very gratifying.”

 

 

7th Annual Muhlenberg Shootout

By Andre D Williams
Prime talent invaded the Lehigh Valley recently for the seventh annual
Muhlenberg Shootout.

Talking about guys who you'll likely see in the NBA one day, like Nick Richards, a 7-footer from The Patrick School, who already has an NBA body and he's still in high school. Muhlenberg coach Scott McClary deserves much props for assembling that much talent in one gym. "We tried real hard to get a mix of all levels," said McClary, who had ex-Parkland star Nick Rindock, ex-Freedom star Nigel Long and ex-Central Catholic strongman Jean Lee Baez and other Muhlenberg players volunteering their time. "They're all varsity teams but we want to get a good mix of local teams, a good mix of out-of-town teams and our goal is to get all 32 teams to play three games and matchup to whatever level they are." The result was Goliath vs. Goliath in some games, like the St. Pat's vs. Coastal Academy. Richards, who's got a long list of school's, blocked a Coastal 3-point attempt to preserve victory.
"I usually do that a couple times a game," said Richards, who has been
offered by UCLA, Kansas, Stanford, N.C. State, Pitt, SMU and Syracuse. And about how he got so strong Richards said, "Pushups. However many I can do in a day."  Richards really is a man-child, boasting unbelievable athleticism to be so doggone big.
"St. Pat's, St. Anthony's and Paul VI which has been here every year and Coastal Academy were the four most talented teams here but there were some really good teams even beyond them," McClary said. "Those are guys that you are going to see playing at major colleges and in some cases, beyond college."
St. Pat's also had 6-10 Bul Ajang (offers from Georgia Tech, West Virginia, Washington, Auburn and Pittsburgh), 7-1 Buay Koka and 6-0 Jamir Harris (offers from Seton Hall, Alabama, Rutgers, USC, Creighton, Minnesota).
Could you imagine Parkland trying to matchup with St. Pat's?
Impossible, right? You can't teach size. But what the Lehigh Valley
does have is sparkling shooters like Zay Jennings of Central Catholic and Emmaus' David Kachelries.  Jennings, still nursing a bum ankle and Kachelries both put on shows,
displaying their jumpers and quickness. Central Catholic and Emmaus were winners as was Allen with a lean and more focused Talek Williams, who flashed dunks and an ability to dribble and find his teammates.
"They did really well," McClary said. "I'm not permitted to name any names in the
media because they are all considered prospects but I like bringing in the out-of-town teams so local teams can see that level of basketball but I also like bringing in the out-of-town teams so they can see our level of basketball in the Lehigh Valley."

 

Nick Richards (2017 The Patrick School) Richards is an incredible defender that protects the paint at a high level.  Continuously offensive players had difficulty making any baskets while Richards was probing.  Offensively he showed the ability to finish of the many nice passes from his teammates.

Jamir Harris (2016 The Patrick School) Harris proved why he is major conference guard.  We really liked his defensive approach and his ability to make key plays down the stretch. 

Jagan Mosley (2016 St Anthony) Committed to Georgetown, Jagan is a dazzling ball handler who's going to Hoyas-land sporting athleticism and a high motor. "My physicality, my athleticism and my will to win," Mosley said is what he's taking to Georgetown. His father was a track and field star, and Mosley is following his pops regime.  Mosley was most impressive as a team leader as represented himself well on the court and on the bench. 

VJ King (2016 Paul VI) The Louisville commit used his patent pull up jumper all afternoon.  His long frame for a guard makes this move virtually unstoppable.  King showed his versatility by handling point guard duties and setting up his teammates. 

 

Jake Kuhn (2017 St Maria Goretti) Kuhn is a marksman with nice size for a wing- 6’5.  Jake was impressive versus St Anthony where he almost led Goretti to an upset win by stroking 6 three pointers.  Kuhn continued to impress in his following game by exclusively attacking the basket.  Kuhn certainly proved to be one of the most impressive players in the entire shootout

 

David Kachelries (2017 Emmaus) Boasts offers from Holy Cross, Lafayette & Brown - A point guard with a fearless mentality, David has a first-step move that often loses the defender. He rolled up high numbers in each game."I've been working on my shot, my mid-range game and my pull-up," David said. "Near the end of last season my shot was off.  Being the point guard I distribute the ball a lot."

Talek Williams (2017 Allen) Williams was electric throughout the afternoon portion of the event.  He did his usual by dazzling the crowd with multiple high rising dunks; however his game is improving in other aspects.  Williams was active in the passing lanes defensively, and made some eye popping passes for easy finishes.

Tyrese Martin (2017 Allen) Tyrese is a prospect that continues to improve in every outing.   The 6’4 wing is an outstanding shooter, but he impressed this afternoon with his willingness to attack defenders at the rim. 

 

RJ Blakney (2019 St Maria Goretti) RJ was the biggest difference maker as a freshman at the event.  The lanky forward was very active.  He banged inside with the older, stronger players; but also was a very tough matchup for perimeter players because of his length.  Blakney is certainly a prospect to evaluate for the next 4 years.

 

Zach Bare (2016 St Paul) Bare is a physically, strong guard capable of playing either position.  He shows his speed by racing up the court and has a quick trigger off the bounce or on the catch.  Zach’s team only had 6-7 players, so he showed good endurance playing the majority of all 3 games.  

Max Mahoney (2016 Ridge)  Headed to Boston University carrying an all-around game
with him. This chiseled player is like a coach on the floor. "If everybody out on the floor is playing well then that will open me up for some individual matchups," Mahoney said. His coach stresses the importance of being fit.


 

 

Chad Dreswick (2017 Hunterdon Central) Dreswick is a big body in the paint that is deceptively agile.  He was a nice presence for the Jersey school and showed some ability around the basket. 

Kyle Stout (2016 Parkland) After battling some injuries over the Summer, it was great to see the Lafayette commit back on the court.  Stout showed his all around game by being a strong rebounder and using his length to defend multiple positions.  Do not get it confused however; the primary weapon of destruction is his lethal jump shot.   

 

Constitution represented very well with a 3-0 record.  The team doesn’t have their typical “big names,” however the young group battled all day versus stiff competition.  2018 6’5 Jerry Andrews-Fulton is relentless around the paint defensively, typical strong philly rebounder.  

Parkland season reserves Jake Bartholomew and Michael Zeky did a nice job playing more prominent roles.  Bartholomew had a game hitting at least 4 three pointers, while Zeky played with poise and also showing a nice lefty stroke.

Central Catholic senior Zay Jennings looked in total control of the Vikings’ offense.  Playing with younger players, Jennings directed and led the Vikes to a 3-0 day. 

All 2017 players- Central Catholic’s (Jay Vaughan, Kevin Kern, Shackyll Dezonie, Dat Lambert, and Aiden Ellwood), Liberty’s Alex Serrano, and Immaculata’s Jared Chambliss appeared very mature and certainly gained valuable experience as freshmen.  They all had exceptional moments throughout the day. 

Freedom transfer Tyler Muniz produced from the perimeter.  Back to Freedom after a year at Bethlehem Catholic, Muniz looked comfortable and impactful.  2017 Nick King continues to prove he is one of the best juniors in the area.  His all around game was on full display for the Patriots.

Northampton’s Morgan Heffelfinger displayed a workman’s attitude and good athletic ability in a win over Southern Lehigh.

East Stroudsburg North seems to be a team on the rise.  They played aggressive and seemed to always be on the attack.  Really liked the efforts of 2017 6’4 Darin Bellinger. 

 

Hooprootz Lehigh Valley Skillcase

By Andre D Williams
Basketball players from the 5th to 10th grades will have the
opportunity to learn and be coached up.
Sounds good?
It's going down from 8:30am--5pm in the second annual Hooprootz Lehigh
Valley Skillcase event at Dieruff High. The event is making its third straight year in Pennsylvana after
opening up in Montgomeryville.  "They are getting three of the best basketball trainers around in
Marty Washington (Pro Skills Trainer) whose founder has trained Kobe Bryant and more," event organizer and Wall-to-Wall president Chuck Rockmore said. "As well as D1 workouts, the premier basketball trainers, so the kids will get good training and it should be some real good talent all levels when it comes to game time."
Oh yes there will be competition after guess speakers pump up the players. The guess speakers are Dieruff all-time leading scorer and current top assistant coach at East Stroudsburg University Anthony Ross and former 16-year Morning Call sports reporter and current lehighvalleybasketballrankings.com senior writer Andre Williams. Williams will speak about his rich history in basketball and about his
miraculous recovery from a major stroke five years ago. With basketball practices set to open soon this is an event people shouldn't miss. It's the type of event that basketball junkie Rockmore
didn't have the priviledge of attending growing up because nobody organized it as he's done.
"When I was growing up I went to the Lehigh Valley Big 5 and that was cool but no they didn't have any events like this or we just didn't know about them," Rockmore said.
Rockmore, who in his Wall-to-Wall organization caters to under priviledged kids, handling attittudes as welll as talent, poor as well as wealthy and he still finds a way to win games, will be inducted into the Lehigh Valley Sports Hall of Fame on Nov. 21. His passion for the sport is limitless.
"Basketball is a passionate sport with so many life qualities," Rockmore said. "You have to love it.

SCBL Season VI

Week 5

NCAA Division:

Lehigh       60

Villanova  48

Georgetown      54

Michigan State  52

Princeton       66

Michigan      52

 

Player of the Week:

Isaiah Tyler ‘20

(Northampton SD)

Honorable Mention:

Jayden Walsh ‘20

(East Penn SD)

 

Recap: The regular season is over and the single elimination playoffs for the top 4 teams are set to begin this Sunday, October 25th. The Lehigh squad is the top seed with only one lost, while parity is definitely apparent with the other 3 seeds all at 3-2. Basically it’s the SCBL’s NCAA division version of the NFL’s NFC east. Meaning they all beat up on each other and you can throw records out the window when they meet. After this Sunday two teams will be heading to the 6th Annual SCBL championship. While two teams will be finishing up a very productive fall basketball season and resting up for their winter tryouts which are starting soon. #fallbballmatters.

 

 

 

 

SCBL Season VI

Week 5

NBA Division:

Bulls    60

Lakers 55

Cavs   72

Sixers 62

Spurs  68

Knicks 60

 

Player of the Week:

Sam Iorio ‘17

(Parkland)

Honorable Mention:

Terrance Noonan ‘16

(Palisades HS)

 

 

SCBL Season VI (Week 4)

NCAA Division:

Villanova  45

Princeton 30

Mark Swedberg  12pts

(Villanova)

Thomas Perrun  10pts

(Princeton)

Michigan State 67

Lehigh                57

Kianoosh Mohadass 15pts

(Michigan State)

Julian DeJesus  21pts

(Lehigh)

 

Georgetown 68

Michigan       49

 

Allen Young  20pts

(Georgetown)

Abel Saft  20pts

(Michigan)

 

NCAA Division

Week 4

 

Player of the Week:

Kianoosh Mohadass ‘19

(Solehi)

 

Honorable Mention:

Allen Young ‘19

(Allen HS)

 

 

 

NBA Division

Week 4

 

Sixers 63

Spurs  48

 

Charles Ervin 22pts

(Sixers)

AC Kelly 17pts

(Spurs)

 

Cavs    65

Lakers 50

 

Shack Dezonie 20pts

(Cavs)

Jake Bartholomew 24pts

(Lakers)

 

Bulls    74

Knicks 62

 

Dat Lambert 25pts

(Bulls)

Joey White  27pts

(Knicks)

 

 

NBA Division

Week 4

 

Co-Players of the Week:

Joey White ‘16

(Parkland)

Jake Bartholomew ‘18

(Parkland, pictured)

 

SCBL Season VI (Week 3)

NCAA Division:

Villanova    39

Michigan    37

Kiaeem Comegys 12pts

(Villanova)

Devon Boyko     21pts

(Michigan)

 

Princeton             66

Michigan State    65

(OT)

John Blackledge 21pts

(Princeton)

Chad Kratzer 11pts

(Michigan State)

 

Lehigh              57

Georgetown   51

Nick Filchner  15pts

Jevin Muniz 15pts

(Both of Lehigh)

Chris Dietrich 14pts

(Georgetown)

 

Recap: Week 3, although we were bracing for hurricane Joaquin since Thursday/Friday, no one could prepare for the storm that would be week 3 in the SCBL. The NCAA division got it poppin early with 3 sets of high intensity games. Villanova coached by former NBA & overseas pro Dallas Comegys, took the win over the Michigan Wolverines. Nova is a very well coached team and always plays the way Roman Catholic grad Comegys instructs them to on both ends. Expect Coach Mark Crable’s Michigan squad to bounce back next week. The undefeated MSU Spartans, coached by former Rider guard Jamil Newsome had their first taste of defeat in OT. The always tough Princeton Tigers coached by Craig Luska, DeSales graduate came away with the 66-65 victory. In the final contest of the NCAA division pitted Lehigh versus the emerging Georgetown squad. Georgetown was thinking upset all game and played their best game of the season against the undefeated Lehigh team. But in the end the Hoyas fell to the backcourt play of the Lehigh. The SCBL also would like to thank Mr. Andrew Johnson, Athletic Director of LCCC for coming to speak with the kids. #fallbballmatters

 

 

NBA Division:

Knicks  57

Lakers 51

Talek Williams  16pts

(Knicks)

Jake Bartholomew 14pts

(Lakers)

 

Spurs   62

Cavs    61

J’von “JJ” Winslow 17pts

(Spurs)

Zay Jennings 32pts

(Cavs)


Bulls    64

Sixers  57

Justin Paz 23pts

(Bulls)

Carlos Gutierrez 18pts

(Sixers)

 

Recap: The NBA Division started out with the Knicks sneaking past the scary Lakers with their size, tenacity on defense and the coaching of Tyrone Wright. But the Knicks possess a two headed monster in the front court with Talek Williams and Tyrese Martin of Allen. The Lakers with Dyiel Stewart (Allen) and Jake Bartholomew (Parkland) along with others are a pretty formidable too. This looked like the Lakers would close it out but the Knicks held on to remain unblemished. In the 6th overtime game of the season the Cavs and the Spurs went toe to toe almost literally a few times. This game had the feel of Mayweather fight with some notables going head to head. The Cavs coached by Darnell Braswell fmr DeSales All-American feature Zay Jennings and Shack Dezonie of Central. Whereas the Spurs led by Sam Iorio (PHS), JJ Winslow (Allen) and making his season debut Lucas “The Catalyst” Hudson (Solehi). But it was the overall play of other contributors such as AC Kelly (Parkland) for the Spurs and Tyler German (Parkland) for the Cavs that was noted. Tyler Muniz (Freedom) and JJ Winslow (Allen) made some timely plays against the Cavs. In (OT) Jennings was fouled on a 3 ptr and made all three FT’s to give the Cavs a 1 point lead. But in the closing seconds Winslow was able to draw contact and hit two FT’s to come away with the win for the Spurs. The final game of the day would see the Bulls with Justin “JP” Paz (BECA) and Hector Morales (Allen) holding on to defeat the Sixers with Carlos Gutierrez (Allen) and Charles Ervin (Quakertown) both making nice contributions. This game was also well played and anyone will who knows anything about the sport knows you win with guard play and the Bulls had a little better play down the stretch on this particular Sunday.  #fallbballmatters

Ed Jennings Fall basketball league big on diversity
By Andre D Williams

At around the same time as the Philadelphia Eagles start most of their games basketball junkie Ed

Jennings has come up with an alternative game plan to prevent your mind from being scrambled over the

Eagles.

And it's with the rock.

Jennings, the father of Central Catholic senior shooting star Zay Jennings, is in his sixth season with the

Select Competition Basketball League or the SCBL as it is known in the LV hoops community. The SCBL

season runs from early September thru the first Sunday in November. Games begin at 1 p.m. every

Sunday last untill 7pm. Everybody who's anybody has toured the league held at the Swain School. The

league is patterned after the Hank Gathers and Sonny Hill leagues in Philadelphia as well as Five Star

camps. With the substitution pattern being a Hoop Group elite camp staple. Jennings a former assistant

at NCC, Central Catholic and now closed Pius X who in the early 2000’s played a national schedule

before anyone else ever considered doing so. "Through all my travels I've come to understand that this

game is simple," Jennings said. "I think people make it complicated”. For this area to catch the DC or

Philadelphia areas we've got to create a culture where we're not afraid to compete against each other.

We have to get better if this area is ever going to compete for a state championship." Hence, the idea of a

fall basketball league. But if it was not for Zay coming to Pops and telling him that he was done with

football and wanted to concentrate more on basketball and Swain’s rigorous curriculum the league might

not have been created since nobody else was interested in starting a fall league. "My motto is that fall ball

matters," Jennings said. "You can't get better just from working out with competing. You have to play

against some competition. You can't go from the end of August until December just working out. How

often do you see an Allen kid playing with a Parkland kid, a Palisades kid playing with a Dieruff kid. You

have to have a lot of diversity. The SCBL is definitely diverse. What you won't see is any loaded teams

just smashing opponents week after week. Jennings has coaches draft players from around the area and

that creates balanced and fair lineups. No more than one of the areas mega-players is on any team which

has led to highly competitive games. In the two weeks that the league has run Jennings has had four

overtime games including buzzer beaters. "You’ve gotta bring your lunchbox and go to work because

nobody is going to give you anything in the SCBL," Jennings said. "We demand that these guys play hard

and fast."

The league is open to players of all caliber. A six-minute substitution pattern is enforced and there's only

11 players to a team. The substitution allows for players of the same caliber to be playing against each

other. The league mandates that every player play man-to-man. Zones are prohibited. There's two

divisions: NCAA (7th thru 9th graders), and NBA (10th thru 12th).

Area high school coaches such as Andy Stephens (Parkland), Doug Snyder (Allen), Ray Barbosa

(Bethlehem Catholic), Dennis Csensits (Central Catholic), Steve Yoder (Emmaus), Chad Landis (Liberty)

and many more have all have their players participating. Some of the young SCBL coaches include

Darnell Braswell, one of the  top assistant coaches at Central Catholic, Danny Hargrove, local official and

graduate of East Stroudsburg University, Shahad Abdur-Rahkman, East Stroudsburg University legend

and an older distinguished gentleman, ex-Dallas Maverick Dallas Comegys.

They are afforded a mass talent group that includes Zay Jennings (Central Catholic), Sam Iorio

(Parkland), Talek Williams (Allen), Tyrese Martin (Allen), Dylan Belletierrie (Salisbury), Mike Martino

(Bangor), Shack Dezonie (CCHS), Hector Morales (Allen), Jacob Scarnulis (Emmaus), Cam Hoffman

(Liberty) as well as newcomers Mikey Esquilin (Whitehall) and Charles Ervin (Quakertown).

All those players have already made a name for themselves or are on the cusp of doing so. Jennings is

just as excited if not more excited about his NCAA and younger groups - the high school stars of

tomorrow.

They are Nick Filchner (Northampton School District) who dropped 29 points last week; Devon Boyko

(Emmaus School District), a player with size and a high motor. He dives for loose balls and takes charges

- every coaches dream; Chad Kratzer (Liberty) a freshman who's around 5-10, 5-11 with nice feel and

good jump shot; Ryan and Brian Santana (Roberto Clemente School) twins who play with immense

confidence and who are very athletic. They get after it on both ends of the court - the envy of every

coach; Jevin Nunez (Bethlehem Area School District) a player with a nice handle, great feel for the game,

crafty and athletic; Allen Young (Allen) always seems to be in the right spot at the right time; Marcus

Tippens (Emmaus) a big body, lefty and a manic offensive rebounder, kinda like a throwback type of

player;  Abel Saft (Palisades) is projected to be a real steady and dependable player once he reaches

high school; Sean Hutchinson (St Elizabeth Catholic School) is a player who has the Catholic schools

drooling over him; Kahleel Foster (Salisbury) already 6-1, 6-2 as a freshman, very long and lengthy - your

next dominant Colonial League center; Jayden Walsh (Emmaus) a typical Green Hornets player who

does a lot of things right.

"So many high school coaches support the SCBL," Jennings said. "You don't need any friction with them.

I'm just grateful that we have a chance to play fall basketball. I don't know what they

did before this. There was no fall basketball."

Al Blount a man of many hats at Medical Academy Charter School
By Andre D Williams
Al Blount will be all over the map dealing with kids at the Medical Academy Charter School.
Simultaneously hired in July as the schools basketball coach, athletic director and behavioral management coordinator, Blount will be forced to be all over the map.
No problem for Blount.
"I'm extremely excited to be hired as the athletic director at Medical Academy Charter School," Blount said. "I've also been hired as the behavioral manager which prompted me to leave the Allentown School District. What I understand from my 26 years of working with student athletes and youth is that there must be a sports program in place. If a kid has no sports program at that school then they truly have no onus to that school."
His job now is to focus on all sports as equal to the basketball program.
"Sports helps to calibrate behavior," he said. "It helps the academic area. It allows for them to socialize in a social way because they want to play that sport. At the same time  it allows the coaches to have a pull pit and talk to them not just about sports but what's going on in their lives. In short at Medical we are going to grow the sports program or programs and it is our hope that medical will become more attractive to more students as well as student athletes."
Medical has less than 250 students and is looking to grow. Plans are being implemented that will bring (Allentown middle schools) into Medical and then there's the charm of the basketball coach (Blount himself) to lure perspective basketball players.
The drawback or bonus is that Medical wants students with an interest in the medical field.
"The earlier you get the kids the better because they haven't set their feet on a certain path so we can kind a direct them and direct them in the right way and right area," Blount said. "Medical as a school had a relatively slow start but its now picking up steam in the way of Medical being an actual school which we would want our kids to become doctors, to become nurses, to work in the medical field but it doesn't stop there. We could have them work in pharmaceutical. You could start making $50,000 a year. 'It's incumbent upon us to make sure that we have that happening there."
But in the area of expertise Blount has he pretty much has a handle on it.
"As far as basketball goes I'm looking forward to putting together a 22-game schedule. Right now I'm only at two. Notre Dame of East Stroudsburg and Dieruff will be in our Christmas tournament and we're looking for two more schools. We as a 1A school we can play anybody. I'm looking to split that. I don't want to walk through with Medical  playing only Christian and charter schools that don't have great tradition.
'I was the first coach at Lincoln Leadership and in our first year with kids who had never played system basketball we went to districts, won our first game and obviously lost the second. I don't know if that will happen again but that's the goal."
It's a good thing that Blount doesn't have any hair because it seems like a lot of head scratching will be going on.
 
Al Blount bent on succeeding at Medical Academy Charter School
By Andre D Williams
The merry-go-round coaching tour of Al Blount has likely reached its final destination.
Blount, 55, was hired by Medical Academy charter school in July and this time it came with the stipulation that Blount would have to wear more than one hat.
At Bethlehem Catholic, Lincoln Leadership and Pen Argyl Blount was just the basketball coach but at Medical Blount is also the athletic director and coordinator of behavioral management.
He's happy and eager to get to the school year and being that he's now the AD, also eager to put together a 22-game schedule. He currently has just two schools.
"I'm looking forward to putting together a 22-game schedule," Blount said. "Right now I'm only at two. Notre Dame of East Stroudsburg and Dieruff will be in our Christmas tournament and we're looking for two more schools. We as a 1A school we can play anybody. I'm looking to split that. I don't want to walk through with Medical  playing only Christian and charter schools that don't have great tradition."
Blount is excited to start a winning tradition and be able to field athletes from all over. He has experience with charter schools being that he was the first coach at Lincoln Leadership.
"When kids from anywhere can attend that school you should be able to put together a pretty good basketball team," Blount said. "It's not our druthers to go and recruit a kid from anywhere but we are letting you know that we are here and that we are an option.
"We want to be the best basketball program in the state before we're  done. Is that possible? Yes. Will that happen? I don't know. We need as much help and support that we can get."
This team is the lowest-budgeted school Blount has coached at but he's going to try to drum up funds through hustle. Medical - located in the old Catasauqa High school where legendary Larry Miller played - will have a fall basketball league and Blount is looking for varsity and freshman teams to play in it.
"I'm also implementing a fall basketball league, varsity boys and girls will be played on Saturdays and freshman boys and girls will be played on Sundays so I'm looking for some teams to register. And because we have no budget that league will be the cash infusion that will allow our sports programs to function as well."
People outside of the Blount circle may wonder why a man as accomplished as Blount is would want to start up a program in his 50s. Blount starred at Dieruff  in the late 1970s, then went to Tennessee State University and has been dabbing here and there as a coach since he left college.
"There was a question when I coached at Bethlehem Catholic but it was more of a statement, 'Well he'll be done once his son graduates,' " he said of coaching Al jr. at Bethlehem Catholic. "I was coaching and loving basketball before my son came. I loved coaching my son and the teams that we had. As long as I draw breath I will continue to have a passion for basketball. I think through my passion positivity is passed on to the kids and they feel like I love them and everybody that's on my staff must exude that same feeling with the kids so they understand that everybody's here for their best interest and on their behalf.
"Basketball has been my passion since I was six years old. As I've grown over time and when I was no longer able to still play it - which was a very sad day - people see coaches go bonkers on the sidelines they aren't nuts. That's their passion.They aren't like that at the supermarket. They are not like that when they are getting gas. That's their passion. That's how they are wired. Coaches, including myself get a bad rap for being highly energetic."
At Medical he can coach the way he wants and for as long as he wants until such a time comes when he either fires himself or steps down. The sky is the limit for both the coach and his players.
"First off I'm a basketball coach," Blount said. "I'd coach anywhere even if its Siberia. My wife wouldn't like it but I'd be like, 'Hunny we're moving to Siberia I got the coaching job over there.' I think charter schools are a necessary evil. It's difficult over at ASD. The kids are a challenge. ASD is only allowed to function a certain way. I think there's some latitude given some charter schools needing tools that don't exist at ASD. I think any inner school is experiencing the same challenges."
The challenges will be plentiful at Medical but Blount will be content to handle every one.

 

By Andre D Williams
With Central Catholic gaining ground and confidence, Nazareth sophomore Jahan Dotson negated the run with back-to-back spectacular plays.
All game Dotson was a nightmare, then he turned into a sweet dream that helped the Blue Eagles to a 54-39 victory in the A-Town Throw Down Championship Sunday at Cedar Beach.
Following teammate Kevin Wagner's 3-pointer, Dotson shook a Vikings defender en route to the basket and a three-point play, then on the Blue Eagles next possession Doton dished to Wagner for a 50-39 lead.
 "I picked my team up," said Dotson who was named the tournament's MVP. "We were falling apart a little bit and I just created, get to the bucket and picked my team up."
All day Dotson did that, brushing off the suffocating temperatures with a burst of energy for the Blue Eagles who along the way sent Parkland home for the second straight weekend titleless. Nazareth upended the defending Class 4A district champs 34-22 in the semifinals.
It was a legit victory though Parkland was missing Kenny Yeboah and Lafayette recruit Kyle Stout. Sam Iorio was there but not as effective as he can be and Devante Cross was there but his devastating drives were no factor as the Blue Eagles built a 15-point second half lead and cruised to victory much to the dismay of Trojan fans.
"It was a great victory," Nazareth coach Joe Arndt said. "We put the pressure on them. We wanted to run, we wanted to play uptempo. We had a big 15-point lead and we got a little sloppy. I think we got tired. We settled down a little bit, regrouped and came out and hung tough and pulled out the victory."
Clutch play by Jay Vaughn helped Central Catholic, without star guard Zay Jennings, upset Philadelphia's Ben Franklin 38-34 in to other semifinal, setting up a local final between two unlikely teams.
But Dotson was clearly the best player in the tournament. Slippery from the top of the key, he persistently took defenders to the hole for two points.
"Very good player," Central Catholic coach Dennis Csensits said. "He was good as a freshman last year and he really has taken his game to the next level. He's really playing outstanding basketball."
How the Vikings collapsed, scoring no points over the final few minutes after pulling within 42-39 on a Vaughn trey is no mystery to Csensits.
"I think a combination of things for us happened," Csensits said. "I think the thing  that hurt us today is that we didn't defend well early in the game and we dug ourselves a hole. Our defense had guys getting there too late. It's a game of runs . If you are down 10 you've still got to play the same. It's a game of runs. I always thought you've got to play the same in a game of runs."
The last run - 12-0 Nazareth - was the most devastating run.
"We've come a long way," Arndt said. "We are playing well and with a lot of  confidence."
 
Parkland's Sam Iorio and Emmaus' David Kachelries get multi-D-I calls of interest
By Andre D Williams
Look no further than Cedar Crest Boulevard to find prospective Division I players for 2017.
That's based on the flood of phone calls Parkland's 6-foot-6 Sam Iorio and Emmaus' 6-0 David Kachelries received on Monday.
Iorio is the bigger and he received more calls. The junior-be has a chance to grow taller than his dad Mike, who is 6-9.
"I'm hoping," Iorio said. "That will be a pretty big height."
That's not all. Iorio also has a chance to play at a much bigger college than Philadelphia University where his dad attended.
And that seems to be a definite based on the calls Iorio received on Monday, the first day that Division I coaches could call graduates of 2017.
Lehigh and Lafayette, of course called as did Penn, Yale, East Carolina, St. Joe's, Davidson, Brown, Boston University, Bucknell and Holy Cross."
"Yeah it was a pretty fun day to be honest," Iorio said. "I was glad to hear from all of them. They said pretty much the same thing. I was really happy to hear from the big school's because it shows I have the potential to be a big-time player."
Since he entered high school Iorio has been primed to make D-I. Starting as a freshman certainly helped. Though he doesn't dribble much, he can bring the ball up the court a little and he can knock down 3-pinters.
"After my freshman year I realized that anything was possible," Iorio said.
For Kachelries it was sort of much shorter.
"Yesterday when I was called," Kachelries said. "I got an offer from Fordham my freshman year but I don't know how official that was."
 Kachelries probably won't grow that much more but his current point guard skills is what has made him appealing to Lehigh, New Orleans University, Boston University, Quinnipiac, St. Joe''s, Holy Cross, Penn and Brown.
"The only school that didn't call me was St. Joe's but they texted me to let me know that they have interest in me."
A knock down 3-point shooter Kachelries best attribute is his distribution skills.
"They all just like the way I play and how I'm a good point guard and leader of the team," Kachelries said.

Lehigh Valley's Running Rebels won AAU tournament in Baltimore

By Andre D Williams
Don't be surprised if you travel south of the Lehigh Valley to watch basketball and somebody ask's you who is that Running Rebels team from your area?
That's very possible than not after the Rebels 17-under team won the Charm City AAU tournament the last weekend in May in Baltimore.
Not a misprint, also not a shocker.
"The guys came out with an edge about themselves," Rebels coach Darnell Braswell said. "They knew what they had and they shutdown all the things that team did in the first game."
The Rebels beat Blackbird Fury, a Maryland team, in the finals 60-38, The Fury beat the Rebels in the last game of pool play.
"We wanted it more," Braswell said.
Blessed with a well-armored team the Rebels got up and down the court with furious intentions to win the rematch and make a name for themselves and for the Lehigh Valley.
"All we had to do is keep coming," said Arnell Lewis of Easton, a guard. "It feels good knowing that we could travel out of the area  and win a statement game."
To win an AAU tournament requires a lot of grit and the Rebels had that as well as a young coach in Braswell who's becoming one of the brightest coaches in the area, He's a former Allen player who went on to become a Division III All-American at DeSales. He was asked to join Ray Barbosa's staff at Bethlehem Catholic but turned it down because he's enjoying himself at Central Catholic on Dennis Csensits staff.
What happened in Baltimore had been brewing for a while.
"It was pretty big for us, " said Jake Feiertag of Emmaus, a guard. "It was good getting out of the area down to Baltimore. We played teams from Baltimore, DC, Maryland and Virginia and we got it done."
Winning two tournaments in a row would have been spectacular but the Rebels went 0-3 this past weekend in the Big Shots tournament in Philadelphia.
"We played some good competition," Braswell said. "The ball didn't go our way.We had some chances to win.
East Penn Conference to go with three officials next season
By Andre D Williams
The conventional wisdom is that three eyes on the basketball court is better than two.
So the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference will adjust its officiating crews from just two to three-man crews next season.
It's a move that makes everybody happy.
"It's fantastic, really good for the Lehigh Valley," Central Catholic coach Dennis Csensits said.
"It's absolutely good for the game," Jim Haney, supervisor of officials for District 11 said.
"Well we are the only area that doesn't have it," Central Catholic senior-to-be Zay Jennings said. "It will make the game a lot faster, cleaner and there won't be as many missed calls."
The EPC is the only league making the change. The Colonial League will still operate with two-man crews next season and its Haney's job not to cheat the Colonial League out of good officials.
"We are going to sit down with the schedule and see that it's covered correctly," Haney said. "It's the right thing to do because I worked in the Colonial League for 30 years just like everybody else so just because the EPC went to three officials I've got to make sure the Colonial League has some good officials too."
The extra eyes on the EPC games figures to improve the quality of play.
"In three areas I think it touched on," Csensits said.. "One the quality of play. Players are bigger, stronger and quicker so it became a challenge for a two-man crew to cover. I think it's fantastic from that standpoint and I think its great for the players from that standpoint. A lot of things happen off the ball that two-man crew has difficulty with. And last but not least is the sportsmanship. Officiating being more consistent I think really helps with the sportsmanship."
Approval of the three officials went through as stringent a panel as possible. First the athletic director's approved it, and then the principals. A good move all the way around. Now the EPC will join what a large part of the state has already been doing for years.
"This is something that has been in the works for a number of years," Csensits said. "This makes basketball consistent with other areas in Pennsylvania that work with three officials and it's what you see in postseason basketball with three officials, and I think it will help with the pro's of basketball in the area."
EPC football games will also be adding one more official, raising the number from six to seven referees per game.
As with any new system implemented in an old system there figures to be some kinks at first and patience is advised for overbearing parents and hotheaded players and coaches who like to flip off the handle.
"There is going to be some growing pains until we get things set up," Haney said. "The expectation is that it's going to be really good. For the first year or two we are going to put some of these younger people into situations where there is going to be some growing pains."
By growing pains Haney means working high caliber games in which they've  never worked and making the right calls. It seems like officials are going to go into next season raw being that "Mr. Summer Basketball" Glenn Kline doesn't have plans to implement three-official crews in his summer league of Stellar "Catch A Rising Star" Tournament.
"If everybody does it I will put it in the budget for next season," Kline said.
So without any practice games the EPC will start a new direction.
"That's why I'm going to work to make sure there's a younger guy in every crew but in certain situations there may be a Pocono Mountain West against Parkland where there's three veteran guys and no younger guys," Haney said. "That's what I took on as an assigner. I have agreed to do that and I will work on the schedule a little more hands on than going to the computer and just hitting button and assigning the games."
As far as the players nothing really is changing because they still have to make layups and free throws. It's just that their play will be more closely monitored.
Parkland senior-to-be Kyle Stout who recently committed to Lafayette, can't wait to go next season.
"I definitely think it will be better," Stout said. "Another set of eyes on the court will be a great new addition. I don't think from a players standpoint you'll notice it until the game stops and they've called it."
 
 
 
 
Parkland's Kyle Stout to stay close to home, play at Lafayette
By Andre D Williams
Parkland senior-to-be Kyle Stout feels at home when he's shooting from the 3-point line.
In two years he won't have to travel far to pull the trigger from beyond the arc after verbally committing to Lafayette.
Lafayette won out for Stout's services over Penn, New Hampshire, Colgate and UMBC.
"'Obviously it's close to home and there are benefits to that," Stout said. "The staff is real good. They made me a top priority and they made it known that they wanted me there. {Lafayette coach Fran O'Hanlon}  made it a priority. He was always at my practices and games which really made me wanted."
The barrage of 3s the Leopards shoot per game was another factor in Stout's early decision. He's the best long range shooter in the area and he'll be joining a Leopards team that ranked No.1 in the Patriot League and fifth nationally with a 40.8 3-point shooting efficiency this season.
"They had a lot of success this year with winning the Patriot League," said Stout, who averaged 13.5 ppg and an average of two 3s per game last season.. "Hopefully they can win a couple more with me there."`
It's no secret as to why Lafayette recruited the 6-foot-6 and still growing Stout so heavily given his deadly 3-point shooting. He likes the idea of being able to go bombs away and he believes his trainer Sammy Barona has prepared him well for the next level.
"It's something I've worked on," Stout said. "Sammy Barona has really brought my game up to the next level. I couldn't have done it without him."
After graduating from Parkland it will then be Lafayette's job to continue the progression of Stout.
"I'm really excited," Stout said. "I can't wait to go to school there," Stout said.
Bethlehem Catholic hires legend in Ray Barbosa as coach
By Andre D Williams
Bethlehem Catholic,'s DeAndre Tillet is going to be saved for his senior season by his big brother Ray Barbosa.
Barbosa, who was named as Bethlehem Catholic's new head coach on Friday, will be the savior Golden Hawks fans have waited years for.
He brings charisma, moxie and best of all, poised back to a program that went into the basement in previous years.
"It feels great," Barbosa said. "I'm really excited to be the head coach at a winning program. I'm coming back to the Lehigh Valley looking for a championship is something we can build. goal. It's very special."
The 30-year-old Barbosa is going to be doing his first head coaching varsity job but he's been around the block and has a pulse for high school basketball,, first from his stardom years at Allen and from assistant coaching stints at his Alma mater, Cheltenham, and recently as the head JV coach at Christo Rey high school in Philadelphia.
"It prepared me a lot," Barbosa said. "Coaching at Cheltenham taught me how to run practices and coaching at Christo Rey was a first-year JV program so it taught me how to build from the ground on up."
Since he was old enough to dribble Barbosa has been nothing but up. He scored 2,202 points in four memorable years at Allen where he was named twice to the All-State third team and then he three years at James Madison before transferring and playing his final college season at the University of Maryland Baltimore County and enjoying an all-time high by winning the America East and advancing to the NCAA Tournament.
After college he played five years in Puerto Rico. He's been coaching ever since and now brings a wealth of talent, experience and knowledge back to the Lehigh Valley.
"We are very excited  to welcome Ray onto our athletic staff," Bethlehem Catholic athletic director Chris Domyan said in a release. "He is one of the top up-and-coming coaches in the Lehigh Valley, and we look forward to him leading the Bethlehem Catholic boys basketball team. He will be an inspiration and an outstanding role model for our student-athletes."
While winning is the objective Barbosa cautions Golden Hawks fans that he might not be able to turn the damage the program has gone through in recent years around that fast. Bethlehem Catholic's last coach Mike Frew went 3-19 last season and just 33-62 in four years before resigning.
 "My staff and I are going to come in and going to instill the system that we have and how we want to do things," Barbosa said. "Right away it's going to be tough just because guys are going to have to learn our different things. We want to bring college type practices and college type atmosphere. We want them to be a little college team. We want them to be able to do everything."
It's doubtful that Barbosa will have trouble finding good players. They'll be knocking down his door but Barbosa isn't going to run off the players he currently has
"We are going to deal with what's there," Barbosa said. "We are going to build a feeder program. We want to build hope."
Hope for Bethlehem Catholic came the day it signed Barbosa.
Dawud Abdur-Rahkman is a frontrunner in the Lehigh Valley
By Andre D Williams
Dawud Abdur-Rahkman is the father of Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman - the fabulous Michigan guard - and a whole lot more.
In many ways Dawud is the architect of how the Lehigh Valley is doing things these days.
The 56-year-old who has put in a lot of mileage over the years, once serving as an assistant coach at Howard University and being the head coach of an elite AAU program in the Washington, DC area.
Because he was always seen at Muhammad's games when his son starred at Central Catholic some people might associate him as Muhammad's father.
That would be an injustice to the man who has coached some of the greatest players in Lehigh Valley history from his son to Ray Barbosa, yet he essentially has had a quiet voice in the shaping of the Lehigh Valley from a basketball perspective.
His resume is quite stellar: Head coach of Blue Chips AAU, Assistant coach at Muhlenberg the last two years, head coach at Penn State-Lehigh Valley two years before that, assistant coach at Howard University the five prior years to that and at various prep schools and JuCo's the five years before Howard.
In all, he's got 25 years of coaching experience. He's got thoughts about the pathway the Lehigh Valley has taken about why Central Catholic last year and Parkland this year didn't advance to Hershey
and he even chimed in on how powerhouse Kentucky was built.
And lastly, Dawud talked about the pathway that led to Muhammad making it to Michigan.
WHAT IS YOUR HISTORY IN THE LEHIGH VALLEY?
ANSWER: "Most of these guys who are developing programs in the Lehigh Valley have played for me or about to be coaches have played for me. Toomey Anderson, Danny Hargrove, Jonathan McDonald, Ray Barbosa, Rasheed Santiago, John Brown and it goes on and on. Outside of the immediate area Robbie Thompson from Saucon Valley, Andrew Guman from Central Catholic, Anthony Ross.
WHAT TYPE OF VOICE HAVE YOU HAD IN THE VALLEY?
ANSWER: "I think I've had a silence voice about bringing basketball from a different vantage point in here because prior from me doing it  there was nobody doing it around the Lehigh Valley. When I would have showcases I would bring in high school programs like Williamsport, Atlantic City, Simon Gratz and schools like that and it was new to the Valley. And now because of it I think you have guys who are taking it to another level and really getting the kids and bringing other kids in so you really have exposure and an opportunity to see basketball from a different perspective.
I think it has come a long way. I think the attitude has changed and there are many more people who want to get better, who want to play at that next level, be college basketball players and I don't think you could say that years ago. I think that people were content about the way basketball was being played. If people don't get it here they'll go some place else to Jersey, Philly any where to get to that next level. The attitude has changed terms of parents or guardians who want their kids to become better basketball players.
WHY DIDN'T CENTRAL CATHOLIC AND PARKLAND NOT WIN STATE TITLES? 
ANSWER: "I think because our talent is so sparcely populated. What I mean by that is in Philly, New York and D.C. they have schools that have four, five, six Division I players. Right now it remains to be seen how many Division I players Parkland will have. Central had one last year so it's real difficult to win a state championship with one Division I player or you will need to have some D-II players, high D-II players stepping on the floor or its not going to happen.
"You look at any state championship they've got more than one Division I player. That's where we suffer because we are so caught up in our community about one team having more than one good player. Oh we cry about it. What we should be doing is promoting it because we have some good players, a lot of good players but they are all spread out."
IS THERE A WAY FOR THE VALLEY TO GET ALL GOOD PLAYERS ON ONE TEAM? 
"Yes there is a way but I'm not sure they want to do that. I definitely think its easy just like they do in Philly or DC. You just need to hire the right person who hires the right person who can get those kids and galvanize everything together and know that you are going to get what you're looking for. Right now I don't think that's the case and that's why people won't go to one school because they don't know that that choice exists."
HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A POWERHOUS LIKE KENTUCKY EVER BEFORE 
ANSWER: "I have not. It's definitely something different. I do think that long ago before this recognition of McDonald's All-Americans, this that and the other I think that there were teams like that. Back then there were blue chips players at one big-time program. But now the wealth is so spread out that you have those guys playing at majors and mid-majors but back then you only went to UCLA or North Carolina, the top programs.
Back then when Kareem went to UCLA they probably had 10 McDonald's All-Americans but you didn't know there were but nowadays when you have nine McDonalds All-Americans that's unheard of when most teams only have one.
 WHAT STEPS DID YOU TAKE TO GET MUHAMMAD TO MICHIGAN
ANSWER: "I made him understand how important working hard, putting in the time and staying focused and sacrificing when everybody is doing other stuff, not doing stuff the teenagers  are doing, that if you want to play at the highest level you've got to be in the gym or be doing your homework or be in an environment that will suite you. I had him playing at the highest level of basketball that you could play at at the age of eight, nine years old. He played on an AAU team in DC that was No. 1,2 and 3 in the country. He got to play against Julius Randle, the Harrison twins and on and on. It gave him some inspiration so when I talked about sacrifices he understood what I was talking about. That was the biggest thing. That didn't come from me. It came from him. So he said, 'Ok, I've seen what you've done,' and I want to be the best that I can be.' But if you can't play at that level guess what? You aren't going to make it there."
 

LEHIGH VALLEY AAU PROGRAMS

By Andre D Williams
RUNING REBELS 15-16
Coach: Dallas Comegys, ex-NBA player.
Analysis: A lot of nice quality players, athletic and full of shooters. Team will be really tough on the boards. Team will display a lot of grit.
Key players: Arnel Lewis (Easton), Dyoni Bueno (Stroudsburg), Mike Zeky (Parkland), Alex Dana (Parkland), Jackson Buskirk (Whitehall), Joshua Lewis (Easton),  Tyler German (Parkland), Josh Artis (Emmaus), Jake Bartholomew (Parkland)
Coaches quote: "We showed signs of being a very competitive team. I just want my guys to play hard. Not worrying about if I made my shot, put your head down if you didn't. It's about getting out here and playing hard. You play hard things are going to happen..
Tournaments: JUMPOFF! at Kutztown University, Hoop Group Tournaments, Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass, Mid-Atlantic Elite at DeSales, Super Showcase in Conn., The Big Shot in Philadelphia, Under Armor Mid-Atlantic Elite Championship in Baltimore.
RUNNING REBELS 16-17
Coach: Darnell Braswell, former Allen star and DeSales Division III All-American  and Nigel Long, former Freedom star point guard.
Analysis: Remarkably athletic with a bunch of players with a high ceiling; can push the ball up the court in rapid speed and clean up the glass relentlessly. 
Key players: Shon Wilson (Stroudsburg), Wayne Davey (East Stroudsburg South), Jake Feiertag (Emmaus), Kenny Yeboah (Parkland), Searn Luis, Tracy Simick (Souderton), Kweku Dawson (Phillipsburg), DeAndre Tillet (Bethlehem Catholic).
Coaches quote: "We were trying to get a little bit of everything. We've got guys that can rebound, post players, guys that can rebound the ball and athletic defenders. This year we've got a solid six. Here and there we added a player here and there."
Tournaments: JUMPOFF! at Kutztown University, Hoop Group Tournaments, Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass, Mid-Atlantic Elite at DeSales, Super Showcase in Conn., The Big Shot in Philadelphia, Under Armor Mid-Atlantic Elite Championship in Baltimore.
HEAT GIRLS 16-17
Coach: Steve Jones, Bethlehem Catholic girls scorekeeper
Analysis: A push the rock team and pesky on defense. A little undersized but will make up for it with speed, led by Jordynn Jones of Bethlehem Catholic, whose getting some looks from UNC-Greensboro and a bunch of D-II schools.
Key players: Jordynn Jones (Bethlehem Catholic), Jessica Durnin (Nazareth), Rebecca Fuehrer (Parkland), Malaice Gerley (Pocono Mountain West), Taysia Snead (Liberty), Mya Lockhart (Liberty). 
Coaches quote: "We have a strong group. That's the bottom line. What we lack right now is size. We have speed and a lot of it."
Jordynn Jones: "
Tournaments:  JUMPOFF! @ Kutztown University, Gym Rats in Albany, NY , Nike National , Peach Jam Classic in Georgia, NC Tournament
BLUE CHIPS 15-under
Coach: Dawud Abdur-Rahkman, assistant coach at Muhlenberg.
Analysis: Will be fundamentally sound and tough. Has some nice shooters and formidable height, guys that can sweep the glass. Will get better as the summer moves along.
Key players: Mike Esquillin (Whitehall), Jay Vaughn (Central Catholic), Jack Lambert (Bethlehem Catholic), Zachary Sabol (Emmaus), Jahon Dotson (Nazareth).
Coaches quote: "I think we are made up of players who want a better experience in the Lehigh Valley and they get that through (Muhlenberg) coach Scott McClary, myself and coach (Central Catholic coach Dennis) Csensits that they may be able to get a better experience with us. I expect our play not to be where we'd like for it to be initially. There is a level of intensity and attention to detail that's not there yet. We are trying to get kids to raise their game to the next level and the kids that want to do that we are trying to get them to college to be better basketball players."
Tournaments: JUMPOFF! at Kutztown University, Spooky Nook in Manheim, Pa, the Big Shots, Washington, D.C, All-Ohio Future Stars Showdown, East Coast Premier Jam Fest, Anaconda National Hoopfest, Virginia and Maryland for tournaments, most Hoop Group events.
BLUE CHIPS 12-under
Coaches: Scott McClary, head coach at Mulenberg, Dennis Csensits, head coach Central Catholic
Analysis: Led by the coaches' sons,  this team will be fundamentally sound and will get up and down the floor.
Key players: Caden McClary, Andrew Csensits.
Coaches quote: "Dennis and I had past experienes with our sons and we were trying to get them to have a better experience and develop them so they can become good high school basketball players. Since I've been here I the Lehigh Valley I've tried to get involved in the fabric of the Valley.
Tournaments: Gym Rats, NIKE Nationals, Peach Jam Classic in Georgia, multiple Hoop Group tournaments.
WALL2WALL 11-under, 14-under & 15-under
Coach: Chuck Rockmore, youth coach and founder of Wall2Wall.
Analysis: Bunch of city kids who will try to run the opponent silly. Will play tough man-to-man defense and will fear nobody.
Key players: 11-under: Kyle Melson, Tyson Thomas, Peyton Marciniak (Dieruff). 14-under: Khaill Foster (Dieruff), Donovan De jess (Dieruff),  15-underJustin Rockmore (Dieruff), Jasiah Lopez (Dieruff), Curtis Davis (Dieruff), Curtis Davis:
Coaches quote: "They listen to me. That's the whole key. The rest is just playing he game. That's all its ever been, just getting good, eager kids. That helps the process. They trust and listen. You've got to trust. I'm eager to see how my ninth grade will do. I think we're going to be ok and we'll learn." 
Tournaments: Mid-Atlantic Elite (DeSales), ESYC Elite Spring Series, Hoop Group events, Bballspotlight event.
ESYC ELITE 16-under
Coach: Efrain Raimundo, youth coach.
Analysis: Very athletic and hard working. Speed will be key as team will run a lot. Defense will switch from halfcourt zone to full-court press. The fastbreak will be the biggest key in the coaches free style of play.
Key players:  Timmy Gribb (Central Catholic), Will Melson (Dieruff).
Coaches quote: "They are a group of kids with a couple of kids who have only been playing for a couple of years. Other players have been playing for a long time. It's a very good mix of players. They practice hard. They all work individually on their game. They are hard working. We have a lot of shooters. Our challenge is to get them to play together but I see them going on to play better with each other."
Tournaments: Hoop Group events and national tournaments.
THE FEEDER PROGRAM girls 17-under
Coach: Al Blount, former Bethlehem Catholic boys coach.
Analysis: Aggressive defense and running at every turn. The style will be very hectic. Team still has four open slots. 
Key players: Aja Blount (Northampton), Kaylin West (Liberty), Christina Polek (Liberty), Kiyea White (Emmaus), Kayla George (Whitehall), Vanessa Slater (Dieruff), Elena Pfeiffer (Freedom).
Coaches quote: "We are big, fast and we haven't been in the gym a whole lot due to the winter being so bad and because of the spring sports but the time we've been together we are meshing together really well. We are taking these girls to be in front of college coaches to be seen but we are only taking them when they are really ready to be seen. My job is to grow them individually. It's not about AAU. It's about next winter."
Tournaments: Spooky Nook in Manheim, Pa,, The Faceoff in Philadelphia,  the Mountain Bball Jamfest at East Stroudsburg University, the Blue Chip 3 Strip Summer Jam in King of Prussia, Pa, USJN East Coast Challenge in Philadelphia.
EXODUS girls 17-under
Coach: Garrett Horton, youth coach.
Key players: Khyasia Caldwell, Nadine Edwell (Parkland).
Coaches quote: "Basically I got a lot of these girls within the last three weeks, girls from the Poconos area as well as the Reading area. I'm very excited about this team. So far we are a couple pieces away from competing at the highest level but I'm very happy with the way we are playing now."
Tournaments: JUMPOFF! @ Kutztown University, Mid-Atlantic Championships at DeSales, anywhere from Atlanta to Lancaster.
 
Northwestern's Logan Schwartz Bronx-bound to College of  Mount St. Vincent
By Andre Williams
Northwestern's Logan Schwartz is carrying his sweet jumper to the Bronx, N.Y.
Schwartz officially signed with the College of Mount Saint Vincent on Thursday, completing his dream to play college basketball after a tumultuous senior year.
Unable to play because of an ACL tear in his right knee Schwartz agonized as Northwestern went 9-13 and failed to qualify for districts.
"I just tried to put this season behind me mentally because it was tough not being there for my teammates and to be one or two games out of districts and wondering what I could have done to help them."
No luck.
How he injured himself kept playing back in his head.
"I was playing a summer league game at Pleasant Valley and I euro-stepped a kid and my right knee dislocated. It was pretty nasty."
The 6-foot-2 Schwartz was relegated to the bench and several disappointed months ahead until making his college decision.
"It's in New York so that's good," he said. "They placed third in the Skyline Division and they have my major (communications) and the financial package was pretty good so it's all-around good."
Everything is good, except for a kid from New Tripoli hanging out in New York so you'd think. You'd be wrong.
"I'm excited for it," Schwartz said. "Hanging out in Northwestern its kind of rural but I'm really looking forward to it. I enjoyed my visits there and the campus is real nice.
Schwartz has even had a chance to hangout with his teammates-to-be when he joined them in Midnight Madness festivities for the start of basketball season.
What Schwartz is going to bring to the table is a lights out jumper that was well-respected around the Lehigh Valley.
"I'm a shooter," Schwartz said. "That's what I'm known for in the Valley. My AAU coach Dallas Comegys said that shooting is what I'm good at so I shoot the ball from any range."
He had hoped to shoot Northwestern into the playoffs.
"I had my sights on big things but I never got to do it because of the injury." 
Talyiah Medina is the future of Bethlehem Catholic
By Andre D Williams
Talyiah Medina will have better performances, higher scoring games and she will lead her teams to victory.
As the daughter of Bethlehem Catholic head coach Jose Medina a lot is expected of her.
To the eye, she was impressive on Saturday at in the LVBR JUMPOFF! event at Kutztown's Keystone Arena.
"My daughter scored 20 plus in both games," Jose said
While he rejoices Talyiah's performance Jose is also her worst critic after a loss:
"You've got to hustle and do what you've got to do," Jose said. "Skills don't mean nothing. You've got to continue to work hard."
To the eye Talyiah looked real good. She was the second tallest on her team and she displayed guards ability in bringing the ball up a number of times and dishing to her teammates. Sometimes they went in, often they did not.
She was playing on a patchwork team and it was difficult for her to operate with girls she had no familiarity with.
"These girls, half of them I didn't know," Talyiah said. "I just met them today "It was kind of hard. You're putting a team together at the last minute. The team we were playing has been together for years. It was hard because I didn't know their skill level. The next game I will be better because I know where I'm going to be at."
True to form the next game was much better but the next game wasn't with the same group of girls. It was with Exodus, a team which she's played with before and she was all over the court, making plays and displaying the dazzling ability which she will one day display at Bethlehem Catholic.
The next game was also an age group up. Talyiah is only 13 and in the seventh grade but her father has been grooming her as the next Kalista Walters for years. Ability wise she's close, domination wise she's got some work to do.
"Yo've got to train. That's why we go to the Y to anticipate these things but what's the point if you go to the Y and train and then you don't apply it. I've got to go back to the drawing board to see what works, maybe cross country for conditioning."
Whatever it takes Talyiah will do it. She has already put in countless hours with her dad at the Bethlehem YMCA working on various shooting and agility drills.
She applies most of her talent out of the area with the Philadelphia Triple Threat team.
 "That's why I have her out there," Jose said. "To get it in."
Robert Jones one of BBBL's best & future high school star
By Andre D Williams
Confident and capable Robert Jones is like Michael Jordan was at 9 years old.
Much like James he lights up the opponent. At a recent Bethlehem Boys Basketball League All-Star showcase at Fountain Hill Elementary Jones got on a roll late and stayed on, scoring 20-plus points - way more than anyone else.
A second grader at Fountain Hill he appears to be headed to  your future Darrun Hilliard and Ray Barbosa, two former All-State players who played Division I.
Jones father, Keith played running back at West Virginia so he's got great genes and an electric game to go along with it.
"I was trying to get MVP," Jones said od his mindset in the All-Star game.
His mentality is already tough and his game is steadily improving. Not only does he score.
"I'm good at scoring, Jones said. "I'm good at passing. I'm good at layups and I'm good at defense."
He's essentially good at everything that the BBL focuses on.
"We teach teamwork and we're big on teaching them skills and how to play the game," said Keith Jones, who has been a coach in the BBL for the last seven years. "We also teach sportsmanship. I'm real proud of this league."
The league does cost but its cost affordable. The league was started 11 years ago by Pete Seaman and commissioner JonJon McDonald, a former Liberty bruiser.
Seaman and McDonald have seen a lot of great talent pass through their league from Darrun Hilliard, AJ Long and KJ Williams, each of them Division I athletes. Williams did not attend school last year after graduating in 2013 but is expected to join Long at Syracuse next school year.
"I enjoy watching the kids grow," Seaman said. "We like to see them get off to college."
Jones is only in the third grade but he already has aspirations to go to LSU. That will be after he graces us with his immense talent.
"I'm the best now because I can shoot and pass the ball," Jones said.

The 2014-15 Pennsylvania Sports Writers All-State Boys Basketball teams, including each player’s school, height, class and scoring average.

 

CLASS AAAA

 

FIRST TEAM

 

Levan “Shawn” Alston, Haverford School, 6-4, sr, 19.4 ppg

Tony Carr, Philadelphia Roman Catholic, 6-4, jr, 12.8 ppg

Chris Clover, St. Joseph’s Prep, 6-3, sr, 20.7 ppg

Sammy Foreman, Martin Luther King, 6-1, sr, 14.2 ppg

Matty McConnell, Chartiers Valley, 6-2, sr, 29.5 ppg

Jahaad Proctor, Harrisburg, 6-3, sr, 24.4 ppg

 

SECOND TEAM

 

Cole Constantino, North Allegheny, 6-2, sr, 23.4 ppg

Kobe Gantz, J.P. McCaskey, 6-4, jr, 17.8 ppg

Kason Harrell, Hempfield (D-7), 6-2, sr, 25.2 ppg

Amir Hinton, Abington, 6-4, sr, 19.8 ppg

Lamar Stevens, Haverford School, 6-7, jr, 18.3 ppg

Lonnie Walker IV, Reading, 6-4, so, 17.0 ppg

Derrick Woods, Pennsbury, 6-8, sr, 16.3 ppg

 

THIRD TEAM

 

Nazeer Bostick, Philadelphia Roman Catholic, 6-3, jr, 12.5 ppg

Luke Connaghan, Archbishop Wood, 6-5, sr, 19.0 ppg

Ramon Creighton, Taylor Allderdice, 6-1, jr, 12.0 ppg

Jonny David, Mount Lebanon, 6-2, sr, 18.5 ppg

Gemil Holbrook, Philadelphia Roman Catholic, 6-4, sr, 13.9 ppg

David Krmpotich, La Salle College, 6-7, sr, 13.7 ppg

Jahaire Wilson, York William Penn, 6-4, sr, 18.1 ppg

 

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Tony Carr, Philadelphia Roman Catholic

 

COACH OF THE YEAR: Chris McNesby, Philadelphia Roman Catholic

 

CLASS AAA

 

FIRST TEAM

 

Milik Gantz, Harrisburg Bishop McDevitt, 6-4, sr, 18.3 ppg

Quade Green, Neumann-Goretti, 5-11, so, 17.8 ppg

Derrick Jones, Archbishop Carroll, 6-7, sr, 19.3 ppg

Lamarr “Fresh” Kimble, Neumann-Goretti, 6-0, sr, 14.5 ppg

Nehemiah “Bud” Mack, Susquehanna Twp., 6-0, jr, 14.1 ppg

Daron Russell, Imhotep Charter, 5-10, so, 16.5 ppg

 

SECOND TEAM

 

Sam Allen, Lewisburg, 6-8, jr, 21.9 ppg

Tarojae Brake, Octorara, 6-2, sr, 22.5 ppg

Daylon Carter, Ambridge, 6-4, sr, 24.0 ppg

John Castello, Mars, 6-5 jr, 17.8 ppg

Zane Martin, Neumann-Goretti, 6-2, jr, 16.5 ppg

Riley Stapleton, Indiana, 6-4, sr, 13.1 ppg

 

THIRD TEAM

 

Travis Blankenhorn, Pottsville, 6-2, sr, 16.6 ppg

Josh Creach, Beaver Falls, 6-6, so, 17.7 ppg

DaShon Giddings, Delaware Valley Charter, 6-4, sr, 16.5 ppg

Donovan Jeter, Beaver Falls, 6-5, so, 17.5 ppg

Dom Keyes, Steel Valley, 6-7, sr, 19.4 ppg

David Morris, Erie Strong Vincent, 6-1, so, 20.1 ppg

Tim Rose, Scranton Prep, 6-0, sr, 15.2 ppg

Josh Sharkey, Archbishop Carroll, 5-10 jr, 12.4 ppg

 

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Derrick Jones, Archbishop Carroll

 

COACH OF THE YEAR: Greg Lezanic, Indiana

 

CLASS AA

 

FIRST TEAM

 

Jair Bolden, Westtown, 6-4, jr, 17.0 ppg

Nelly Cummings, Lincoln Park Charter, 6-0, so, 24.5 ppg

De’Andre Hunter, Friends Central, 6-7, jr, 20.8 ppg

Stevie Jordan, Conwell-Egan, 5-10, jr, 16.8 ppg

Stephon McGinnis, Aliquippa, 5-9, sr, 17.0 ppg

Trey Staunch, West Middlesex, 6-5, sr, 23.6 ppg

 

SECOND TEAM

 

Kyle Datres, Loyalsock Twp., 5-10, sr, 10.2 ppg

Noah Davis, Bellwood-Antis, 6-3, jr, 24.7 ppg

Tim Guers, Germantown Academy, 6-3, sr, 16.4 ppg

Jason Kenny, Mid Valley, 6-2, sr, 21.4 ppg

LaPri McCray-Pace, Conwell-Egan, 6-2, jr, 11.4 ppg

Ryan Norkus, Seton-La Salle, 6-3, sr, 18.1 ppg

Kody Trude, West Branch, 6-4, jr, 21.4 ppg

  

 

THIRD TEAM

 

Julian Collazo, Lancaster Mennonite, 6-0, sr, 23.2 ppg

Vinny Dalessandro, Conwell-Egan, 6-7, jr, 10.5 ppg

Austin Gilbertson, Camp Hill Trinity, 6-2, so, 17.8 ppg

Sam Lindgren, Germantown Academy, 6-6, sr, 12.6 ppg

Matthew “Mookie” Miller, Upper Dauphin, 6-1, jr, 24.1 ppg

Romano Sebastiani, Greensburg Central Catholic, 6-4, sr, 22.7 ppg

Ben Sosa, Loyalsock Twp., 6-2, sr, 15.9 ppg

 

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Stevie Jordan, Conwell-Egan

 

COACH OF THE YEAR: Frank Sciolla, Conwell-Egan

 

CLASS A

 

FIRST TEAM

 

Samir Doughty, Math, Civics & Sciences, 6-4, sr, 24.5 ppg

Ahmad Gilbert, Constitution, 6-7, sr, 17.6 ppg

Brandon Martinazzi, Bishop Carroll, 5-9, sr, 22.4 ppg

Malik Miller, Farrell, 6-3, jr, 20.0 ppg

Nate Sestina, Cameron County, 6-8, sr, 21.5 ppg

Kimar Williams, Constitution, 6-1, sr, 16.2 ppg

 

SECOND TEAM

 

Chad Andrews-Fulton, Constitution, 6-7, sr, 11.0 ppg

Julian Batts, Jeannette, 5-11, sr, 22.4 ppg

Caesar DeJesus, Goodling Impact Academy, 6-3, sr, 23.4 ppg

Dane Jackson, Cornell, 6-1, sr, 28.0 ppg

Sagaba Konate, Kennedy Catholic, 6-8, jr, 16.1 ppg

Tyerell Mann, Notre Dame-East Stroudsburg, 6-4, sr, 23.0 ppg

Lavelle Rush, Monessen, 6-1, jr, 18.1 ppg

 

THIRD TEAM

 

Kevin Anderson, St. John Neumann, 6-1, so, 19.1 ppg

Michael Bryja, Portage, 6-4, sr, 20.5 ppg

Bo Burleigh, North Penn-Mansfield, 6-2, sr, 18.3 ppg

Juwan Gooding, Goodling Impact Academy, 6-0, sr, 23.8 ppg

R.J. Laugand, Clarion-Limestone, 5-11, sr, 17.6 ppg

Nasza Short, St. John Neumann, 6-2, sr, 18.9 ppg

Jeff Yordy, Pottsville Nativity, 6-2, sr, 22.4 ppg

 

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Ahmad Gilbert, Constitution

 

COACH OF THE YEAR: Robert Moore, Constitution

Parkland gets by Conestoga 53-42, bigger text ahead in Pennsbury
By Andre D Williams
By any means possible Parkland advanced in the state tournament
Tested by an athletic Conestoga team, Parkland made all the necessary plays on both ends of the court to get by, 53-42.
It was a mixture of point guard Devante Cross early (first seven points of game) and Sam Iorio late (), an unbeatable pair that lifted the Trojans to the PIAA Class 4A first round win at Allen.
Next up is a date with even more athletic Pennsbury Wednesday at Souderton. That game is expected to be even tougher. That the game against Conestoga was tough wasn't a shock to anybody inside the Trojans locker room.
"It's state playoffs," said Cross, who had 12 points. "We aren't expecting to come out here and beat somebody by 20. Every game is going to be good from here on out. That's why when we went up by 10 we weren't like, 'Oh yeah they're done,' and when they cut it down to three we weren't, 'Oh no they are going to beat us.' We just stayed level headed and just played basketball."
Living off the luxury of having so many talented players is something that makes Parkland feel confident in a jammed situation as was the case when the Pioneers closed to within 36-33 with under 1 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter.
Open from the corner reserve Justin Jones knocked down a 3 to push the Trojans out of immediate danger.
"The one thing with Justin is that you think its going to go in," Parkland coach Andy Stephens said. "It's a rarity when it doesn't go in so when he shot it we were pretty confident that it was going to go in."
The Trojan who scored the most, Iorio (24 points) carried Parkland the rest of the way. Working the Pioneers over inside Iorio also popped their eyes out from the outside in the second half.
"He made a lot of threes and Devante played a great floor game as far as controlling things," Stephens said. "The luxury of our team is that different people step up on different nights and nobody has a problem with that. As a coach that's a big luxury."
Iorio has trained himself to excel in moments like Saturday.
"I work hard in the gym everyday so I can make things happen," Iorio said. "Hard work pays off like games like this where down the stretch when I need my legs and I have my legs. That's where my condition helps."
Becahi's Kalista Walters returns to dominant self, leads Hawks to playoff win
By Andre D Williams
Bethlehem Catholic star Kalista Walters missed her first shot, a jumper But that was a tease to what was quickly to come.
Walters dominating the game.
A game after scoring a career-low four points Walters once again owned the paint and she powered the Golden Hawks to 56-36 win over Lancaster Catholic in a PIAA Class 4A first round game on Saturday at Allen.
The Hawks (27-1) will meet Conrad Weiser Wednesday at a sight still to be determined.
Walters cored the majority of her points on layups, many of them in heavy traffic but she's was bent to score so it didn't matter how many bodies were in the lane.
"Last game I kind of had a bad game so I pumped myself up," Walters said. "I had to get points this game."
She had a double-double by halftime and stayed hot en route to a 27-point, 17-rebound, 3-block shot performance.
"We kind of expected that coming off her last performance," Bethlehem Catholic coach Jose Medina said. "She is a workaholic. Great players use their bad performances to motivate them at practice, to motivate them to do much better. We're really happy with Kalista and her bounce back tonight."
Helpless to stop her, Walters buckled Lancaster Catholic with her amazing athleticism and relentlessness going for rebounds, often just skying over Crusaders to get the ball.
"They were huge and that's what definitely separated us," Walters said. "If we didn't get those second chance points I don't think we would have had that big of a lead."
Led by a more offensive-minded Walters the Hawks broke out to a 15-0 and 21-4 advantages on their way to a 30-8 halftime lead. The Hawks biggest lead was 45-15 with under four minutes in the third quarter.
Jordynn Jones, a game after her career night, scored nine points, ran a splendid floor game and was a defensive pest.
"She's capitalizing off the last game and she's playing with confidence," Medina said. "We talk about pics.  'It's  practice that leads to improvement, improvement leads to confidence, confidence leads to success. We write that on the board every day. She's playing with a lot of confidence as lately. Good things happen."
The best thing to happen on Saturday was Walters returning to her dominant self and her teammates riding her back.
"I think my teammates were definitely picking me up and were getting me hyped," Walters said. "Once we get into states we can't take plays off. We can't have a bad game because the person that does is going to lose in the end."
 
Parkland betting odds on itself in state tournament
By Andre D Williams
Two championships down, one to go for Parkland.
With a potential PIAA Class 4A third round game against powerhouse Roman Catholic (24-2), Parkland continued to handle its own business in the District 11 Championship game on Saturday at Freedom.
The Trojans break-neck style of play was limited but the breathtaking way Devante Cross plays every possession was not as Cross steered Parkland to a 46-38 victory over Whitehall.
The Trojans (27-1) meet Conestoga (24-5) at 4 p.m. Saturday at Allen. Whitehall (16-12) plays Methacton (25-4) at 1 on Saturday at Allen.
Whitehall's slowdown style didn't bother Cross who looked to run at every opportune time, keeping the Zephyrs on their heels.
"I thought they all played well," Parkland coach Andy Stephens said. "I thought Devante's floor game was terrific, not forcing shots."
And getting the ball into his teammates hands Cross (11 points, four assists) displayed an all-around game but his best work was probably on the defensive end where he prevented Zephyr Nicholas Hassler from taking him to the hoop.
"You gotta play with confidence and when you're in the open floor like that you've got to have all the confidence in the world," Cross said. "I know you're not going to score on me but he did a great job. He gave me some game. I'm not going to lie I'm tired."
But for Whitehall it was never enough. Center Brett Radocha (16 points) was battling unenvious odds.
"They've got five guys that can shoot," Whitehall coach Jeff Jones said. "They're all basketball players and really good basketball players. They love basketball together. They're good, really good."
Not until the third round of the state tournament will Parkland play a team just as good in Roman Catholic but sophomore Sam Iorio (11 points, six rebounds) likes his chances just like he liked the Trojans chances against Whitehall.
"We came in expecting to win," Iorio said. "We pulled through with it and now we have the big one ahead. No contest and hopefully the same goes for states."
The Trojans have been forced to play a number of different styles. The slowdown way Whitehall plays is one of the least favorite but Stephens came up with a smart game plan to attack it.
"I didn't know about how much they wouldn't run so I implemented a halfcourt defense that would turn them over more than usual," Stephens said. "I think that worked a little bit but I think that our kids, compared to the last three times we played them, I think they weren't going to get rattled for no matter for how long they held the ball and they persevered."
Nabholz and Pottsville win 3A District 11 Title
By Andre D Williams
On a night when Jennings didn't see many good looks Central Catholic failed to keep pace of Pottsville and was bested 57-47 at sold out and jammed Blue Mountain.
Knowing which one of the Crimson Tide they needed to stop the Vikings also failed to do so but there was no way that Vikings 6-1 Jack Nosovich could stop Eli Nabholz.
Nabholz (19 points) was 6-foot-5, muscular, athletic and versatile. He scored the game's first seven points and stayed hot throughout the night. With Jennings ice cold Nabholz's performance was a double whammy.
"It was a lot of fun, especially after last year when we lost to ACC, said Nabhoz, who's headed to Penn State on a baseball scholarship. "They are good every year so it was a lot of fun."
Not so for Jennings. He was off too much.
"I'm not sure.," said Jennigs, about his unusually off night. "I' just want to get ready for states."
Nothing worthy to remember about this game. Pottsville was stronger at every position and hit a barrage of 3-pointers.
Pottsville (27-0)
"I think that's a big factor.," Central Catholic coach Dennis Csensits said, "They've got guys a little bit bigger, stronger at every possession and it wears you down a little bit over the course of the game."
Especially with Jennings struggling.
"I thought they did a great job guarding him," Csensits said.. "Zay has had a great season for us and he's a very good player. Credit to them I thought [Jed] Dunkel did a good job defending him and keeping him out ot rhythm."
Yet for every dominant play by Nabholz made, every 3 by Travis Blakenhon or Jordan Melochick and every missed shot by Jennings, Central Catholic (14-10) didn't fold easily. Led by Ben Pratt (16 points) the Vikings surged within five and four points a number of times in the second half.
But pop ...pop...pop went Pottsville. The Tide had an answer for every Central Catholic answer - the signs of a veteran team.
Like Central Catholic was last season.
"It's the exact team.," Csensits said of the 2014 Tide team. "They are a year better and they've got a veteran team and they deserved to win tonight.."
Whitehall survives to play at least two more games
By Andre D Williams
Whitehall senior and Penn State-bound linebacker Saquon Barkley threw his weight around as if he was leaping over an offensive lineman to snag rebounds on Wednesday at Easton Area Middle School.
"He's jut an unbelievable athlete," Whitehall coach Jeff Jones said. "He's the best athlete in the Lehigh Valley in my opinion. He's just learning how to play basketball. He just did some amazing things out there athletically."
Barkley did such things as rebound and play defense and occasionally score, each vital to Whitehall's 55-50 overtime victory over Nazareth that advances the Zephyrs (15-10) to another shot against Parkland (25-1) at 7 Saturday at Freedom.
If it seemed like Barkley was having fun with each monstrous rebound he snagged it's because he was.
"The only thing I'm great at in basketball," Barkley said.. "I'm not great at all. I just go out there, hustle and try and give my team energy.
I think I get that physicality from football and coach [Ron] Hassler always saying in practice that we've got to get the rebound so its kind of become a part of me now."
In OT with 6-foot-6 center Brett Radocha (15 points) on the bench after fouling out, Barkley was substituted in an offensive-defensive situation and the football star turned basketball played his part to the T.
While the game took a major change in the fourth quarter Barkley's play never did. He was relentless for the entire 37 minutes.
"We had a lead and they made a comeback," Barkley said. "We just had to stay focused and play as a team, keep our energy up and get the loose balls."
All things that Barkley specializes in.
Down 22-7 at halftime, Nazareth (13-11) found some scoring Jahan Dotson (13 points) and Bailey Brugler (13 points) in the second half and made a remarkable fourth quarter rally. Brugler's two free throws inside a minute completed the comeback and put the Blue Eagles into a 44-42 lead.
With 14.2 seconds left assistant coach Hassler's son, Nicholas was sent to the foul line with a chance to save or sink the season.
"There's always pressure in that situation but I've been at the park, practicing that situation a million times, thinking about championship free throws, semifinal free throws and you've got to ice them," Nicholas said. "Me and Saquon Barkley always practice this in practice, how we're down two and we've got to get two free throws."
Just as he'd practiced Nicholas was perfect. Barkley re-entered the game and helped the Zephyrs prevent Nazareth from getting off a shot, forcing overtime tied 44-44.
"You can't think about it too much," Nicholas said. "You've just got to step up there. It's routine at that point.  Me and my dad butt heads sometimes but we find a way to get the job done. We were at Cementon Park all summer shooting free throws, and he's the one who got me started on that. He'd give me the ball and say, 'We're down two or one for the championship. What are you gonna do. You gonna win the game for us or are we gonna go to overtime?'"
In OT the Zephyrs relied on their hellish defense to lead them to victory, though not clinching the victory until Jacob Meyers' breakaway uncontested layup with 20 seconds left.
"Our defense is our most consistent point," Nicholas said. "We've got to keep going back to it. We can't start to do things that are not us. We've got to play the way we play and that's defensively and trying to shut teams down."
Now its onto another shot at Parkland.
.
Parkland pressured, still responds with a huge win over Allen
By Andre D Williams
Parkland heard the knock at the door but the Trojans didn't crack.
Forced by Allen to speed up its pace even faster than it already was going, Parkland relied on the poise of the defending district champion to ease by 59-52 at Easton Area Middle School.
The Trojans (25-1) latest quest over Allen (18-7) sets up a battle against cornfield rival Whitehall (15-10) for the District 11 Class 4A Championship at 7 on Saturday at Freedom.
The Canaries will play upstart Nazareth (13-11) in the consolation game and for an opportunity to join Parkland and Whitehall in the state tournament.
Cotton soft shooting by Kyle Stout (3-of-3 on 3s) in the first half, helped stake the Trojans to a 28-13 halftime lead. Having to play catchup, Allen did just that, aided by its full-court press that disrupted Parkland's rhythm and turned a once blowout game into a thriller.
Parkland (17-of-25) won the game  at the free throw line, one of the greatest fears of Canaries coach Doug Snyder whose team was 14-of-22 from the line.
"We kind of ratcheted it up a little bit and got some good things out of it but when a team like that can spread the court and go to the foul line and knock them down .. remember two weeks ago 16-for-16 in the fourth quarter," said Snyder, has now lost four consecutive games to Parkland since the summer. Tonight [Jack] Dreisbach didn't miss  foul shot. [Kyle] Stout didn't miss a foul shot and [Sam] Iorio didn't miss a foul shot. Again that's why they are were they're at, they can close out games."
Stoudt threatened to close out the Canaries in the first half with his lights out shooting.
"Devante [Cross] gets good looks and he gets into the pain," Stout said. "He knows where I'm at and he kicks it out."
And Stout (12 points) splashes it. Iorio (game-high 19 points) actually got the 3-point parade going with the first 3 in the first minute of the game, a Trojans dominated quarter which ended with Cross hitting a pull-up line drive 3 to end the first with Parkland ahead 18-6.
"When I get open I try to execute and that's what I did," said Iorio, who along with Cross was on last year's district championship team.
"It's great for us," Iorio said. "We are going for three in a row."
It has been Parkland's district championship to lose all season and second-half breakdowns trying to handle Allen's press threatened to make that happen. But the Canaries had to foul and Parkland was money. Still the fact that the Canaries rattled them with their concern raises some concern.
"We were concerned of whether we'd begin the game with the full-court pressure and we didn't," Snyder said. "Our concern was that they'd spread the court and be able to get to the rim and find 3-point shooters. We gave up five 3s in the first half without doing that but I think our pressure in the second half got us back into the game."
Keeping the medal to the pedal is what Parkland does, led by Cross, but when Cross gets flustered and turns over the  ball the Trojans are vulnerable.
But a weakness will turn into a strength by the next game.
"We were concerned of whether we'd begin the game with the full-court pressure and we didn't," Snyder said. "Our concern was that they'd spread the court and be able to get to the rim and find 3-point shooters. We gave up five 3s in the first half without doing that but I think our pressure in the second half got us back into the game."
Angered by its second half performance, Parkland looks to make amends in its next game.
"They are really talented and they made a couple tough shots," Parkland coach Andy Stephens said. "It's kind of what we expected. They didn't give up. They played and played their style and they challenged us and they played well. It's good for us and it'd good for them because they got something out of it.
"Good high school basketball game. It wasn't pretty at times."

Jose Medina: The Greater the Struggle, the More Glorious the Triumph

 

Jose Medina, a Puerto Rican husband/father of three, is in his first season as the Head Coach of the reigning, defending District XI champions and our #1 girls’ team- Bethlehem Catholic.  Medina’s road to this position was certainly not easy.  After applying for a couple of head coaching opportunities in the valley and being passed over in favor of other candidates, some may have given up and moved on, but as Medina states- “The greater the struggle, the more glorious the triumph.”

 Like most coaches, Medina’s coaching journey started from the grassroots. You could find Jose coaching girls (including his oldest daughter, the sensational Taliyah Medina) at the South Bethlehem Boys’ and Girls’ Club.

My journey in chasing my passion to coach has been rewarding and arduous. I began at the South Bethlehem Boys and Girls Club coaching a team of 9/10 year old girls. It was a great experience working with kids from different backgrounds and getting them to practice, train and play together. From this, an opportunity to coach at Louis E. Dieruff High School opened up and I have not looked back since. I have been blessed to be able to coach at Freedom, Liberty, Emmaus and now Bethlehem Catholic. I have learned so much from being at each of these schools (dealings with parents, players, staff & philosophies) and it has really prepared, developed and diversified my coaching pedigree in building upon the strengths I witnessed at all those great schools.

 

Medina has accomplished a lifelong dream as being a head coach of a basketball program.  However, he understands that his success could directly impact other minorities aspiring to coach.

I don’t feel any external pressures of being a minority coach in the area, but I have always told myself to keep persevering for myself and others behind me. If any team accolades/championships received help to open the doors for others, this is great for Lehigh Valley basketball. I am thankful to the Bethlehem Catholic administration and surrounding community for believing in me and the support they have provided.   

Coach Medina’s patience may be attributed to his day “job” as a teacher.  Jose doesn’t necessarily see it as a job, just more as a continuation of what he’s done his whole life- coach the youth.  He does see some similarity in his teaching job and his presence as a Hispanic coach in a sport played by so many minorities.

I have an advantage in that I can relate to the struggle and adversity some of our children face. I have been a teacher for 11 years (Emotional Support, Learning Support and Math Teacher) and see firsthand some of the challenges our kids have to persevere through. For many of these students, the deck has really been stacked against them and sports is the release to the poverty and instability they face. I use myself as an example of being an athlete who was able to get a college scholarship and use it to attain my degree.  In the end, I want to reach and relate to all my players and build a team that values everyone. 

 

 

The grind for minorities to have an opportunity is a continuous battle.  Medina feels blessed to be a part of the high school coaching fraternity and doesn’t feel he is treated or more scrutinized than other coaches, “I never felt this at any of the schools I was lucky to be a part of.”  Coach also raised a great point about the hiring process.  He states, “If there is one suggestion I would give moving forward, it would be for more diversity on hiring committees to better reflect the school and surrounding community.” 

Jose Medina certainly has gone through some ups and downs in this profession.  All these obstacles have made him a better father, husband, teacher, and LVBR friend.  Now as he leads the #3 state ranked Golden Hawks in hopes of another District XI title and elusive state championship, he knows nothing will come easy.  However, the inaugural EPC18 champion coach wouldn’t have it any other way because, as he beautifully states, “The greater the struggle, the more glorious the triumph.” 

 

Allen survives Emmaus 56-53, next up Parkland Wednesday night
By Andre D Williams
With a rematch against Parkland looming in the semifinals. Allen developed a new identity: Poised.
In one of the more competitive district playoff games, Allen rode onto the next round behind free throw shooting, led by Jameire Myers, to knock off Emmaus, 56-53 in overtime Saturday to advance to a date against Parkland (25-1) in the District 11 Class 4A semifinals on Wednesday at Freedom.
 The Trojans advanced with a 38-30 win over Pocono Mountain West. Parkland beat Allen 59-48 in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference semifinals and the Canaries are pumped up for the rematch.
Too many losses to the Trojans since the summer.
"We played them in the semifinals of the summer tournament and lost," Allen coach Doug Snyder said.. "We played them in the championship of the other summer tournament and lost. We played them in the EPC semifinals two weeks ago and lost. Our guys just want to play against the best. Our guys just love to play against the best and Parkland is the best."
The Canaries (17-7) can stick out their chest the way it beat Emmaus. Myers converted three straight free throws in the final 40 seconds to put the Canaries ahead, 56-50 with 20 seconds remaining.
Emmaus (12-12) made another 3 to keep things somewhat interesting but fouled Myers with 0.6 seconds left.
Myers (14 points) missed both but it was no sweat, just jubilant Canaries and a sour Emmaus coach.
"Both teams played really well," Emmaus coach Steve Yoder said. "Sometimes you come out on the short end of things. I really would have been upset had my players not played so well."
But the Green Hornets competed to the bitter end, overcoming a three-point deficit with Matt Kachelries hitting a desperation 3 at the buzzer to force overtime, tied at 48 all.
Hope then built when senior Tyler Prescott (12 points) went coast-to-coast for a layin and 50-48 lead in OT. But Allen killed that high with Bryson Walton (18 points) scoring off a beautiful spin move and banker.
Then the Hornets resulted to fouling and Myers converted even without his contacts not in.
"You can't ask for anything more," Snyder said. "He came up big. The little joke in the locker room is that he forgot his contacts. My joke with him is that maybe we should have you play without your contacts."
As long as they win Myers wouldn't care.
"I knew I had to make them so we could finish off the game out and advance in the playoffs," said Myers, who finished 8 of 11 from the line.
That he did but the next round is a matchup against nemesis Parkland.
"This time we are going to play harder, come out with more intensity," Myers said.
Snyder has all kind of thoughts rolling around in his head, thankful that he has a little more time than a day to prepare for the Trojans this time.
"I have four days to think about things and maybe we can work on something we haven't done before,:" Snyder said. "Remember we played Parkland the last time it was a day after playing Emmaus in the quarterfinals. We had no prep time, no practice time. Will it make a difference? We'll find out Wednesday night. You can only get better by playing the best so we have an opportunity to play Parkland again."
Zay Jennings sharpens jumper, CCHS rolls over Saucon Valley 64-50
By Andre D Williams
Panic never entered Central Catholic junior guard Zay Jennings' mind as he missed jumper after jumper, including an air ball.
It was just a jumper, something he takes religiously in games, during the summer when he shoots 500 a day, 200-300 a day in season.
"It's nothing," Jennings said. "I've been doing it for a long time. It's just muscle memory."
To delight of his teammates and fans his memory remembered as Jennings scored 20 of his game-high 26 points in the second half to power the Vikings to a 64-50 victory over Saucon Valley to a District 11 Class 3A second round game at Allen.
The Vikings (14-9) will meet Salisbury (20-3) at 7:45 Tuesday at Whitehall.
Jennings began the game blistering, knocking down two quick 3-pointers and then his shot left him until the third quarter when a more energized Jennings warmed up and started to score from all over.
A couple dazzling moves to the basket helped get him going. His tear included a first time feat when he banged a 3 and then sank the free throw for a 4-point play.
"I didn't see it go in," said Jennings who fell down. "I just heard everybody's reaction. That's the first time I had ever done that."
That play seemed to seal Saucon Valley's (14-9) fate as Central Catholic went up 49-38 and by as much as 16 points in the fourth quarter.
"He is a good player and he's only going to keep getting better.," Csensits said  "I thought in the third quarter where we were able to get some separation he really showed what he can really do and he took over after that."
While Jennings struggled senior Ben Pratt (10 points) shined and Jack Nosovitch (12 points) with some grunt baskets.
"He started of hot, then he cooled off so I had to step up my play," Pratt said. "In the first half I don't think I did too well. In the second half I piced it up."
Pratt had an all-around nice game. considering he also had seven rebounds and seven assists.
"Sometimes you've got to do extra stuff to get the win.," Pratt said.
 Central Catholic Dennis Csensits was pleased, especially after chewing his team up at halftime with the Vikings holding only a 26-25 lead at halftime.
"The big thing is that we needed more discipline on defense," Csensits said. "I thought we were playing with a lot of energy but were overreating and gave up some opportunities because of being out of position and going for steals."
In the third quarter the Vikings got their steals and Jennings' shot returned.
"That' a sign of a good player when you can score multiple ways," Csensits said about Jennings.
Nothing but what he's been doing for years.
Emmaus basketball is rising behind Sabol and Artis
By Andre D Williams
The other school on Cedar Crest Boulevard - Emmaus - would like to build its own dynasty like Parkland.
The future sure looks promising with players like Josh Artis and Zach Sabol, two big men who have towering presences on the court.
Led by Sabol and Artis Emmaus edged Constitution, 45-44 in the freshman state championship. Sabol made three free throws down the stretch.
Beating Constituition, was one of the Green Hornets most impressive wins of the season.
"I think anytime you are challenged in the way they challenged us in ways that we had not been all year long and you show that you can make adjustments and do things to win the game it's impressive," Emmaus coach John Dietrich said..
"We're not used to playing a team like that that's as big as us. They challenged us at the basket and our kids stepped up and they were able to pick the zone apart."
The Emmaus varsity played the toughest local schedule this season, losing all six games but that's the type of program coach Steve Yoder wants to run.
So for his freshman team to beat a Philly team should send shock waves around the Valley.
"It just shows that we are continuing to do the right stuff." Dietrich said. "We are working hard and getting them in position so they will be ready to play at the next level."
Sabol and Artis are already playing on another level and both hope to make the varsity next year.
"Zach is a little further along in the maturation process and Josh is just scratching the surface for what he can do," Dietrich said. "I think as long as they both commit they will have success down the road.
"I think they both will be 6-6 or 6-7 so anytime you have size like that it always leads to advanced opportunities."
Both players also play football and sport the bodies of gridiron players but basketball is building inside both of them.
"I'm athletic and I go up and get the rebounds," Artis said. "That's what a big man is supposed to do. I'm going to keep working hard, keep getting stronger, and try to get better."
Sabol is more basketball-minded but that's because he has a basket at home and his father works with him three times a week.
"I work on that with my dad and that's a style I bring into the game," Sabol said. "I hope to make the varsity next year."
Devante Cross and Parkland slam Liberty in EPC final
By Andre D Williams
Suffocating at every turn and rolling with Devante Cross' ball handling, Parkland turned back Liberty 68-53 in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference finals tonight at Easton Area Middle School.
Outhustled and outshot, Liberty rallied back with grit to close within 51-46 on a beautiful spin move by 6-foot-8 center Andrew Hudak (nine points) but a short while later Cross put a period to the game with back-to-back dunks.
Cross' last dunk was a highflying stuff for a 62-47 lead.
"That's just my God-given ability and I was taking advantage of it," Cross said.
The Trojans point guard was a nightmare matchup all night, blazing the lane whenever he wanted despite the presence of Hudak, who blocked Cross (18 points) 1in the first minute of the game.
"Just my job as a point guard, get the ball around and we have good shooters too," Cross said.
Shooters like wing gunman Kyle Stout (13 points), who buried 3 treys in the first half and Justin Jones (nine points) who knocked down a three of 3s. Liberty coach Chad Landis said he stressed the importance of guarding the Trojans on the wings before the game but its one thing to say what you want to do and to actually do it.
Parkland converted seven 3s while Liberty only got two, one from Anthony Miller (15 points, 13 rebounds) with a swish in the opening two minutes of the game and another from Trenton Bishop in the second half but those weren't  going to cut it against a team as loaded as Parkland.
Liberty senior Jaevan Dobbins added 10 hustle points but his stern play was not enough either.
"With them making all those shots hurt us," Landis said.
So a ballyhooed matchup turned into a lopsided affair and Cross had a lot to do with it. His poise was exceptional, his dribble dazzling and his flare for the dramatics awesome.
"At the end of the day it reflects that we play well as a team and we work hard and we know how to pull out victories," Cross said.
Cross and Sam Iorio were on the Trojans team that lost to Central Catholic in the EPC final last year and Iorio said he didn't want to feel that depressed again.
"A little thing for where we're going," Iorio said about the victory. "We're looking to do big things."
And have a little fun along the way, maybe.
"The fun is not during the game," Cross said. "It's after the game when you are holding a trophy or two."
Parkland beats Allen, sets up EPC title game against Liberty
By Andre D Williams
With Liberty players looking on from the stands Parkland displayed some of the actions against Allen it hopes to use in its next game.
The next game will be against Liberty for the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference Championship against Liberty (18-6) on Friday at Easton Middle School.
The Trojans (23-1) assured the matchup by polishing off Alllen, 59-48 Tuesday at Freedom. The Trojans did so with Sam Iorio (18 points) and Kenny Yeboah crashing the boards hard and with point guard Devante Cross (17 points) blazing the lane as he pleased.
And at one point in the first when down 19-15 there was reserve Justin Jones (11 points) splashing back-to-back 3s to regain the lead for the Trojans 21-19.
"He's a terrific shooter," Parkland coach Andy Stephens said.
Parkland is loaded with a team full of terrific shooters and they will have to respond against Liberty as they did against Allen.
The EPC's top two teams didn't meet in the regular season.
"Oh that's going to be a lot of fun. Liberty is a great team and its for a championship. The lights will be on and the stars will come out.
d. "Liberty is a great team and its for a championship. The lights will be on and the stars will come out."
Allen's raucous supporters were hoping that Talek Williams (13 points) and Bryson Walton (11 points) could provide some magic but Parkland was too strong and conscious of every Canary rally attempt.
"We rebounded when we had to, " Cross said. "We made big shots when we had to. We never let them build momentum. When they started to build momentum we killed it."
Parkland's 16-for-16 free throw shooting in the fourth quarter helped bury the Canaries
"Their parade to the foul line in the fourth quarter where they were 16-for-16 ...," Allen coach Doug Snyder said. "Teams that are good like that will close out games on us. I think we cut it to five at one point but we had to foul and send them to the line. That's a credit to them."
But how good is Parkland? It has beaten some top teams this season, with its 64-62 overtime win against Susquehanna Township standing out. Friday is for a championship, one the Trojans have been driving for all season.
"I'm really excited for it," Stephens said. "One thing I think we need to remember as coaches is a lot of times when you are the target and there's so much pressure you forget to have fun.
"You looked through the locker room and they knew they didn't play well and they were not celebrating. That's because they want to win a championship."
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