It’s mid-July in Catasauqua and playoff basketball is starting to heat up.
The Catty League reached the quarterfinal stage Tuesday, and the North Catty League finds itself in a similar situation. The nearby Stiles league in Whitehall will begin their playoffs next week.
All three leagues will crown champions that will participate in the upcoming 30th anniversary of the Tournament of Champions in early August.
Having allowed one run apiece in two playoff games normally is enough for two victories.
Unfortunately for Northampton in the Northampton County Legion tournament (NORCO), it wasn’t.
Northampton won a 1-0 over the Wanderers, but they then suffered a recent 1-0 defeat in the deciding game of a three-game series for the NORCO championship.
With the win, the Wanderers advanced to the Region 2 championship at Boyertown, while Northampton’s season came to an end with an overall 18-5 record.
Northampton received a few days off from the opening round of the Northampton County Legion playoffs with a bye after a second-place finish.
With their first game either Wednesday or Thursday, they’ll begin to piece together their pitching staff for a long run.
Overall, Northampton ended the regular season with an impressive 15-3 mark after they lost to Nazareth, 5-4, in a walkoff finale July 3.
Northampton will meet the winner of the Nazareth-Banko’s best-of-three series.
With three games remaining on their schedule beginning the week, Northampton’s Legion team has their sights set on the top spot in Northampton County Legion (NORCO).
Having a seven-game winning streak and an overall 13-2 mark can provide plenty of reassurance.
Northampton finished a streak of eight consecutive games and nine in 10 days Wednesday.
Northampton Legion head coach Mike Bodnar knew his challenges this season would be different than last year.
Mainly, health and depth are on his side this year.
But Bodnar’s biggest challenge will come down the final stretch of the season that began Monday night when his team (7-2) was faced with the predicament of playing eight consecutive games in as many days and nine games in 10 days.
“It is about to get really interesting,” said Bodnar. “No one likes to play early. Everybody keeps pushing games off. We are all in the same boat.
Last season, Northampton took the first step after making a historic run to the District 11 Class 6A championship game the previous campaign.
Now, it’s time for phase two with 14 returning players back.
The Konkrete Kids recently begun their new journey in the Cedar Beach Summer Basketball League.
“I am impressed on the effort they have given in these summer league games,” said Kids’ head coach Coy Stampone. “It’s early and it’s summer, but I do sense a lot of confidence in this team.
All games have been played inside because of weather. It’s hard to tell.
Northampton’s Hunter Werkheiser and Nate Bendekovits truly cherished the moments and the overall experience with the recent 49th annual McDonald’s Lehigh Valley All-Star Football Classic at Nazareth’s Andrew S. Leh Stadium.
The senior linemen along with Kids’ running back Ethan Deater represented the Gold team – comprised of players from Northampton County, Phillipsburg and Palisades – that lost to the Red team - players from Lehigh, Carbon, and Monroe counties - 28-14, as the Red team claimed its first victory in the series since 2015.
Northampton’s Legion team ended last year’s campaign in the opening round of the state regional playoffs with nine healthy players.
Unless injuries arise again, that shouldn’t be a problem for them this season.
Depth won’t be an issue for Northampton, as it has an abundance of players from the EPC champion high school team as well as some recent graduates who are playing on the collegiate level.
As a result, Northampton won five of its first six games (5-1), suffering its first loss to Banko’s (7-2) Sunday.
Northampton head boys’ basketball coach Coy Stampone has told me several times that he now expects his team to make districts every year.
Kids’ head baseball coach Mick Sugra was sitting at home on a recent Sunday afternoon, but he expected his team to be playing in the second round of the district playoffs.
NHS head football coach Kyle Haas revived a life support program and led the team to nine wins and their first district appearance since 2003.
What do they all have in common?
It is about regaining respectability.
All season long, Northampton never suffered a blowout loss. In fact, the Konkrete Kids’ (20-4) four defeats were by a combined total of six runs.
So, a close loss didn’t loom as the likely ending of their season.
Unfortunately, it was.
The Kids abruptly ended one of the best seasons in school history with a 5-3 loss to Emmaus in the opening-round of the District 11 Class 6A playoffs.