Northampton’s Alyssa Wruble approaches her game with a warrior’s mentality and blinders on. There isn’t too much around that can distract from her mission, whatever the cause may be.
“Hockey keeps me going,” said Wruble, a junior. “I have a real passion for it. Since I was young, I need to prove that I can do it. I always try to be the best I can be out there.”
Suffering a lopsided loss in a state playoff game isn’t exactly a drawback to a program.
Just ask Northampton.
It is about playing meaningful games in March.
The Konkrete Kids had a difficult time adjusting to Lower Merion during a 64-41 defeat in an opening-round PIAA Class 6A playoff game at William Allen High School Saturday.
Getting through the District 11 Class 6A boys’ basketball tournament can serve as barometer for the upcoming state tournament.
Just ask Freedom and Northampton.
The two staged the anticipated battle expected, but Freedom’s overall balanced proved to be the deciding factor in the Patriots’ 58-48 victory at Easton Area Middle School Saturday afternoon.
Yet, both teams are near mirror images of each other heading into the final stage of their postseasons.
Last year, Northampton surprised itself with a trip to the Lehigh Valley Scholastic Hockey League (LVSHL) finals.
This season, the Konkrete Kids would have been disappointed without a trip there.
At press time, Northampton trailed Parkland, 1-0, in the best-of-three finals at the Rink at Lehigh Valley by virtue of a 3-1 loss Monday night. Game 2 was scheduled for Wednesday night and a Game 3 would be Friday evening.
The Kids finished tied for second with Phillipsburg in the regular-season LVSHL standings with an overall 11-4-1 mark.
On paper, it looked like a likely Northampton victory over Pocono Mountain West in an opening-round District 11 Class 6A playoff game. The Konkrete Kids won a regular-season contest by 18 points.
But Kids’ head coach Jeff Jacksits warned his team about the intangible factor. Stacy Perryman, the Panthers’ head coach, lost a battle to cancer a month ago.
Unfortunately for the Kids, they came up short, and the season suddenly ended.
At 7:22 p.m. Saturday, Northampton’s boys’ basketball team turned the town on its ear.
It was then that the seventh-seeded Konkrete Kids recorded one their biggest, recent upsets in their program when they dumped second-seeded Liberty, 52-44, in a Class 6A quarterfinal contest at Easton Area Middle School.
As a result, they reached an immediate goal of having a minimum of three more games in their season.
Heading into the PIAA District 11 Class 6A playoffs this weekend, Northampton’s boys’ basketball team believes they are peaking at the right time with six wins in their last seven games.
The Kids certainly will have a test ahead to prove it.
Seventh-seeded Northampton (14-8) will open against second-seeded Liberty (20-5) Saturday night at Easton High School with a 6 p.m. tipoff. Liberty recently has a 15-game winning streak snapped against Allen in the East Penn Conference championship game last week.
As defending champions, Northampton’s Morgan Sterner and her teammates are anxious for this week’s playoffs as well as a possible rematch down the road.
The third-seeded Konkrete Kids (18-5) will meet sixth-seeded Pocono Mountain West (14-8) in a PIAA District 11 Class 6A quarterfinal game at Pleasant Valley High School Friday at 7:30 p.m. The Kids beat them, 50-32, in a regular-season matchup Jan. 15.
Growing up, Northampton’s Jake Christman recalled playing point guard.
“I was a guard when I was younger,” said the Konkrete Kids’ senior. “It was a good fit for the then because I wasn’t as tall as I am now.
“But once I got to middle school, I started to grow.”
Ironically, point guard is the lone position Christman hasn’t played for the Kids. He arguably has been the team’s most versatile player over the past few years, playing every other position on the floor and making plenty of contributions from all of them.
With an overall 18-4 record heading into the East Penn Conference (EPC) playoffs, Northampton’s girls’ basketball team has been on the quietest surprises in the Lehigh Valley this winter.
Head coach Jeff Jacksits readily admits that he didn’t expect the level of success his team has experienced this season, as the Konkrete Kids began the season as a young, growing team without any seniors.
However, Jacksits doesn’t mind the low profile, businesslike approach his team has taken as they head toward the final turn.
Just don’t tell them.