Northampton Press

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Press photo by Bob Brandmeir Piefka Stonewall and the Kids held in there against a good Whitehall team last week. Press photo by Bob Brandmeir Piefka Stonewall and the Kids held in there against a good Whitehall team last week.

Boys looking for a victory

Thursday, February 6, 2014 by JEFF MOELLER Special to the Press in Sports

Northampton head boys' basketball coach Coy Stampone realized his team might be in another transition year during his second year at the helm of the program.

The Kids had a modest two-game winning streak around Christmas and have since been encrusted in a 13-game losing streak, one that has involved its share of close and lopsided games.

Through it all, though, Stampone has cited one statistic that has been at the crux of the Kids' woes all season – turnovers. Northampton has averaged roughly 22 turnovers per game this winter.

"You can't have those kinds of numbers and expect to win ball games," said Stampone. "We have been competitive in many games, but (turnovers) have hurt us at crucial times this season. We usually average 40 to 50 possessions a game and if you're turning the ball over more than 20 times, it isn't a percentage that will be in your favor.

"It's tough, but we need to handle the pressure better. We just need to do a better job at taking care of the basketball."

Stampone cited a recent loss to Liberty in which the Kids committed a low number in the opening half as they trailed 27-19.

But turnovers plagued in the second half and helped Liberty post a 34-point second half en route to a 61-34 victory.

Along with turnovers, the Kids have been plagued with poor shooting nights.

"We need to make better choices," stated Stampone. "We have games in which we start slow or finish a game slow. We obviously need to be more consistent. It can be very frustrating because we are playing with teams and then something happens."

Northampton also has been working in a number of underclassmen into their lineup around seniors Piefka Stonewall, Ryan Hudock, Dylan Cook and Tyler Nicholas, the majority of whom are getting significant varsity minutes for the first time. Stonewall, who was a regular in the Kids' lineup last winter, has been their leading scorer averaging around 11 points per contest and junior forward Garrett Oplinger has been averaging around eight points per contest.

Nicholas and junior Basem Azar has been sharing time at the point this winter, both playing there for the first time.

With their struggles, inexperience issues and play in the ultra-competitive Lehigh Valley Conference, it is easy to see the Kids' uphill climb.

"We know we have a tough game every time out," added Stampone. "But the kids haven't given up and this will take time. Our junior varsity has been doing well and we have had success with the younger teams.

"Overall, I am still positive that we will have good things happen to the program."