Northampton Press

Thursday, February 21, 2019

JV basketball team won, built character

Wednesday, March 23, 2016 by jeff moeller Special to the Press in Sports

This past season, Northampton’s junior varsity team understood the meaning of character.

The Konkrete Kids’ junior unit finished with a 13-9 record and they also managed to defeat Parkland this season, registering a key victory on the Trojans’ home floor.

But the glaring characteristic was the final outcome of games.

The JV team was involved in a series of games decided in the final minutes, many of them that can be considered character builders for the future.

“We had a number of games that were decided late,” said head JV coach Phil Hall. “It was probably about 80-percent of our games we decided in the final minute and within a few points. That was a good learning and game experience for them.

“Overall, we had a good year. We struggled with execution early in the season, but we got better as the season went on. We gained more confidence and we were able to handle things better.”

Hall knows all too well about execution and character. He and his brother Derek – currently playing professionally in Canada – were both key contributors to the Kids’ program and they both continued their collegiate careers at Albright College.

In his second year with the JVs, Hall has seen added interest in the program, mainly due to the program’s recent success under varsity head coach Coy Stampone.

“The varsity and the junior varsity are working hand-in-hand,” said Hall. “We practice together and it benefits both teams. My kids are pushing the varsity kids for their spots and it helps prepare them better for their kids. It is also good for the varsity knowing they could lose their spots. It has worked out well for both teams.”

The Kids’ JV team was composed of one freshman, five sophomores and five juniors, all of whom could receive a promotion next season.

Juniors Joey Tocci and Mike Torres – a transfer from Allen – along with sophomore Jamari Austin paced the team the majority of the season.

“Joey (Tocci) was our best shooter,” said Hall. “Jamari (Austin) was our do-it-all guy. He was our best on-the-ball defender and really set the tone for everyone else. Mike (Torres) was our inside guy and he did a great job rebounding. We look for some big things from him next year.”

Like the varsity, the JV team endured the rigors and challenges of playing in the East Penn Conference, notably the always competitive Skyline Conference with Parkland, Emmaus, Nazareth, Central Catholic, and Whitehall.

“We play in a difficult conference and there are no nights off,” stressed Hall. “It really tested our kids. If we didn’t bring our game, we were in trouble. We also were in good mental shape, and it proved to be just as important as being in physical shape. They did a number of good things and they will continue to improve next season.”