Boys wait for districts
Northampton's task to gain a ticket to the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference playoffs this week was a simple one - win.
The Konkrete Kids needed to record wins over Allentown Central Catholic and Nazareth in its final two games of the season, and they could have received a berth as either a seventh- or eighth-seed to the playoffs.
However, the Kids dropped both hard-fought games and found themselves waiting for a PIAA District 11 Class 4A postseason invite to their dance that will begin Feb. 18.
In the world of power ratings that eventually decided the seating for the EPC tournament, the Kids didn't qualify despite defeating eighth-seed Whitehall twice this season. Northampton also defeated seventh-seeded Easton.
According to a published report, the Kids finished .0018 points behind Whitehall (. 6651 to 6633). The rankings also took into account the opponents both the Kids and Whitehall defeated and lost to this season. Overall, Northampton finished with a 12-9 record and clinched a district berth for the first time since 2010. Yet, they dropped five of their last six games, all of them involving league teams vying for playoff spots.
"I'm not bitter at all," said Kids' head coach Coy Stampone. "We knew we had to win to get in. It came down to power rating that was confusing in some ways. It also involved our league games.
"Our last six games were all playoff games. I'm proud of how we played. We reached the goal of getting a district spot, and then we wanted a league spot."
In his team's final game against Nazareth, Stampone was a bit disappointed about his team's effort in a 53-47 loss, facing a Blue Eagle team that needed a win to clinch a district spot. He also highlighted an 11-for-20 shooting performance from the free throw line that was subpar.
"We didn't seem to have the same intensity level as they did," said Stampone. "Our energy level wasn't that high. We didn't shoot that well from the four line. They (Nazareth) shot the ball well and were playing like a desperate team.
"We didn't play as well as we could."
Stampone also noted how all of the six teams in the EPC Skyline Division qualified for the postseason, a trait that did not comply for the league's other two divisions.
"We're played in the league's toughest division," said Stampone. "It really is brutal. But I think we benefitted from it. "
Stampone plans to arrange for a scrimmage or two to avoid the nearly two-week playing gap before district play begins.
"If we began playing today, we would likely play Whitehall," said Stampone. "But we really have to wait to see how Bangor and Southern Lehigh do in the Colonial League playoffs. We'll likely see a team we played before.
"We're looking to get some kind of balance before (districts) begin. We'll get back to work this week."
MVP - Devante Cross, Parkland; Sam Iorio, Parkland; Danny Cuevas, Stroudsburg; Zay Jennings, ACC; Kyle Stout, Parkland; David Kachelries, Emmaus; Andre Jackson, E.S. South; Bryson Walton, Allen; Hassan Greenfield, Easton; Brett Radocha, Whitehall.
Garrett Oplinger, Northampton; Isaiah Wiggins, P. M. West; Eric Marbury, Pleasant Valley; Talek Williams, Allen; Brett Kline, Nazareth; Ludwin Gonzalez, Liberty; Lance Singh, P.M. West; Aidan Ellwood, Northampton; Edwin Lopez, Stroudsburg; Amir Griffin, Liberty.