As they turn the corner for the final stage of their season, Northampton's boys' basketball team can confidently prepare for their next set of challenges in a breakthrough season.
Despite beginning the week off losses to Nazareth and Parkland, the Konkrete Kids are still in contention for an Eastern Pennsylvania Conference playoff spot as well as continuing to mature as a team.
For Mario Delker, it has been a homecoming to remember.
The junior has not only enjoyed being back with his teammates he played with his youth, but he also has enjoyed the ride of the Northampton basketball team. He has developed his game and has been a steady and valuable contributor.
"It has really been an exciting year," said Delker. "This is really my first full year playing varsity and I couldn't ask for anything more. I played with most of these guys in the NAA and stuff. We also played together in middle school. It was great coming back here."
Northampton head boys basketball coach Coy Stampone recalled a saying from his former high school coach that has applied to his current status.
"He usually texts me after our games and he recently told me to never get too high and never get too low," stated Stampone. "He told me to keep the team in the middle of the road. I want to try and keep these guys this way.
"We also try to keep in mind the three C's - confidence, culture, and chemistry. It really has been fun lately."
Life for the Northampton basketball team continues to have a new twist, and it continues to be good.
The Konkrete Kids began the week with an overall 8-4 record and a 5-3 slate in the East Penn Conference. They also had a four-game winning streak, ironically one more win than they accumulated in each of the past two seasons.
With 10 games remaining, the Kids are three wins shy of clinching their first district berth since the 2009-10 season and also are in the running for the league playoffs.
Entering his senior season, Northampton's A.Q. McNeil knew he had to make some changes to his overall game.
He did, and worked diligently to improve his left hand and develop a short-range jumper in his role as a post player. McNeill's revisions have also helped his team continue to gain respectability in the East Penn Conference (EPC) and the Lehigh Valley.
In fact, McNeil's basket tied a recent key game against Whitehall late in the contest as the K-Kids then went ahead down the stretch to gain a 39-34 win.
After getting four wins in the opening part of the season, Northampton's boys' basketball team will look to continue to climb the ladder toward the postseason.
Along with registering some wins, the Kids will strive to further enhance their new growing reputation from a pretender to a contender in the East Penn Conference.
The K-Kids raised their record at 5-4 with a 45-34 win over Lincoln Leadership in the consolation final after they dropped a 64-50 decision to Quakertown in the opening round of the Salisbury Holiday Basketball Tournament last weekend.
Northampton head hockey coach Brian Ruff is optimistic his team can avoid an act that hasn't happened in the past 14 years – missing the playoffs in the Lehigh Valley Scholastic Hockey League (LVSHL).
The Konkrete Kids began this week's play in fifth-place in the LVSHL one-division league in which the top four teams will make the postseason. Despite being within striking distance of the mark, Ruff has been discouraged with his team's recent 0-4-1 mark in their past five games after they had a 5-0 start.
They began this week with a 6-5-1 record and in fifth place.
Over the years, Cory Croll and his senior teammates have experienced their share of success in the Northampton hockey program in the Lehigh Valley Scholastic Hockey League (LVSHL). Lately though, the Kids have been on the other side.
With their 11-2 loss to Parkland last Friday night, the Kids remained winless in four games (0-3-1). They have been in a freefall after a 5-0 start and now are in a battle for a playoff spot.
The Kids will begin the week with an overall 6-4-1 mark, behind Parkland and Phillipsburg.
Megan Wiest explored a number of options to extend her field hockey career in college.
She looked at programs both within the vicinity of her Northampton-area home as well as those around the greater Delaware Valley and beyond.
But when she visited Drexel her junior year, Wiest realized her search wouldn't extend in her current senior year as a Konkrete Kid.
Wiest also made her selection due to the recruitment efforts of former Bangor High School and Drexel standout and current assistant coach Susan Ciufo.
Two years ago, Garrett Oplinger realized the Northampton boys' basketball program needed some time to mature along the way.
Now, as a senior, Oplinger is watching the program come full circle, and he continues to be a key contributor.
Oplinger has been his team's leading scorer throughout the season and he poured in a game-high 22 points in a recent 64-46 victory over arch-rival Catasauqua. The victory was the K-Kids fourth of the season, and it was one less than their combined victories over the past two seasons.