Northampton Press

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Boys begin season after a strong summer

Friday, December 15, 2017 by Jeff moeller Special to the Press in Sports

With leading scorer Aidan Elwood out of the lineup with an ankle injury, things were too good for Northampton’s basketball team in their season opener.

But head coach Coy Stampone received just what he had hoped in the Konkrete Kids 59-57 victory over Muhlenberg in their season opener Dec. 8.

The Kids were led by senior Cory Weisenberger’s game-high 28 and sophomore Zach Gula added 11 in a solid team effort.

“Cory (Weisenberger) did a great job, but we got huge contributions from Gula, (Mike) Torres, (Donte) Rodriguez, and (Tyler) Gilliard,” said Stampone. “It really was a true team effort.

“Muhlenberg is a very athletic team. But they have a new coach and only had one returning player. We really didn’t have any idea of what to expect from them. We lost Phillipsburg from our schedule because of their scheduling problems and picked up Muhlenberg.

“This was a good win. We have some high expectations this year and this is a good sign.”

The Kids enter this season off a 9-13 campaign last year in which they battled inconsistent play and just missed a district berth.

However, the Kids have a solid cast returning and their strong summer and fall play already has indicated an upward swing.

“We had a very good summer,” added Stampone. “I thought we played well in our fall shootouts and the different colleges. We have had good numbers all along and most of our kids were at our lifting and workout programs all summer.

“We feel very good about the season.”

Stampone, who will begin his sixth season at the helm, firmly believes his team can compete in the highly competitive Skyline Division of the East Penn Conference (EPC) as well as in the overall league play.

Elwood’s production and overall depth will be their key.

“We know we can compete,” he said. “Aidan (Elwood) is our engine, but we have had a number of guys step up. Corey Weisenberger, Gula, Rodriguez, and Torres played well during the summer. We also have a number of underclassmen who can contribute.

“At one point in the game, we had Cory (Weisenberger) out there with four 10th graders. That was good to see.”

Like always, though, the Kids will be in the thick of EPC play this week when they meet East Stroudsburg North and Emmaus this week.

Still, Stampone sees more balance in the league this year despite some early raves about Bethlehem Catholic and Allentown Central Catholic, both of whom are expected to be go deep into the postseason.

“I think there will be more parody this year than in other years,” he said. “There may not be as many Division I recruits around and some of the better teams have lost some people. Beca and Central will be very good, but we could be in good shape in the (district) 6A bracket if we can get there.”

Upon his anticipated return this week, Elwood, who averaged nearly 18 points per game last year, is 70 points shy of the 1,000-career scoring mark. Elwood, Weisenberger, and Torres are expected to provide senior leadership. The Kids look to shake the inconsistent streaks that have plagued them the past few years.

“They are our seniors and have been in big spots before,” said Stampone. “We know we will have some adversity during the season and we have to be prepared to overcome it. A lot of these players started with me when they were in middle school.

“We have a lot of energy right now and we have to keep carrying it through the season.”