Northampton Press

Monday, February 18, 2019
Press photo by Linda RothrockDonte Rodriguez and the Kids were just a win away from making the District 11 playoffs as of Press deadlines. Press photo by Linda RothrockDonte Rodriguez and the Kids were just a win away from making the District 11 playoffs as of Press deadlines.

Boys one win away from playoff berth

Thursday, January 31, 2019 by Jeff moeller Special to the Press in Sports

One to go.

That’s the number of wins Northampton’s boys’ basketball team needed to begin the week for a return trip to districts. The Konkrete Kids certainly didn’t have an easy road in the final weeks to achieve the mark.

The Kids (10-8) began this week with their final home game against Whitehall Tuesday and then Nazareth Friday before they finish at Parkland next Monday and Allentown Central Catholic next Wednesday.

“It will be a challenge,” said Kids’ head coach Coy Stampone about his team winning the necessary game. “But these kids have been up to the challenge all season.”

Last week, the Kids suffered a 61-46 loss to Central Catholic and a grueling 52-49 defeat to Emmaus, both in which several players were battling sicknesses. But they rebounded with a vital and necessary 72-62 win over Blue Mountain to place one of their main goals within reach.

“We started off slow against Central due to their swarming man defense,” said Stampone. “We fought back and fell short.

“The Emmaus game was a great game. We played our hearts out and left everything on the court. It came down to the end and we lost by three.

“I wasn’t sure if we would have anything left in the tank against Blue Mountain. However, this is gritty group of kids and they found a way.”

Stampone credited the play of junior Donte Rodriguez, who had 22 in the win over Blue Mountain and 18 against Emmaus. Rodriguez is averaging 9.3 points per game.

“Donte (Rodriguez) played two of his best games of the year against Emmaus and Blue Mountain,” said Stampone. “He needs to keep it in that high gear for this end of the regular-season stretch run.

“Not only Donte, but eight or nine players stepped up in certain situations when their names were called.”

Junior Zach Gula, the Kids’ leading scorer averaging 14.6 points per contest, stressed the necessity of the Blue Mountain win. Gula truly has paced the team, leading them in three-point goals (43), rebounds per game (6), and free-throw percentage (77%).

“We had a tough game (against Emmaus) and we lost it at the last moment,” said Gula. “It was important for us to bounce back and beat Blue Mountain.

“Now, we have to go out and win one more big game for districts.”