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.
By most media accounts, Northampton’s girls’ basketball team has been flying under the radar this season.
The Konkrete Kids have done it in a true businesslike manner considering they arguably are the Lehigh Valley’s version of a Lockheed Martin F-22 fighter jet, stealthy and powerfully taking out teams in the process.
For Morgan Sterner, basketball has been a constant.
She began playing in kindergarten and was on her first AAU team in third grade. Since then, her love for the game hasn’t dwindled.
“I think I can say that basketball is a 24/7 thing for me,” said Sterner, a sophomore on the Konkrete Kids’ team. “If I am not playing it, I usually am working out to try and get better.
“When I was younger, my coaches told me that I had a gift for it and I should keep playing.”
That talent lately has been on display.
For Northampton’s boys’ basketball team, it is the first of a possible few late-season gut checks.
The Konkrete Kids (9-6) need two more wins to return to the district playoffs, and they have a huge gut check this week.
They met Allentown Central Catholic Tuesday, have a return date with Emmaus Friday, and then host Blue Mountain Saturday afternoon. The three teams have a combined record of 36-10.
In fifth grade, Donte Rodriguez decided to go out for the basketball team. The hunch eventually blossomed into a start reality.
Overall, it has been about reaching his potential.
“I figured I would give it a try,” said Rodriguez, a junior. “At that age, I was looking for help to keep it going. I had some pretty good kids playing around me.
“One of the coaches told me to use my left hand. That was a big help.”
Two years later, Rodriguez knew basketball was going to be a constant.
Simply put, Northampton’s hockey team can control its own destiny toward the postseason in the Lehigh Valley Scholastic Hockey League (LVSHL).
The Konkrete Kids (6-4-3) began this week’s play tied with Allentown Central Catholic (15 points) in fourth place and also for the final playoff spot.
However, Central Catholic has one game left on it schedule, while the Kids have three.
“It is there for us,” said Kids’ veteran head coach Brian Ruff. “We play three teams that are below us in the standings. We have to pick up points.”
Throughout her athletic career, Jenna Rogers always has appreciated the moment. In her senior season, she is cherishing it even more.
Rogers has plenty of reasons to enjoy it. She and her teammates literally have soared off to a fast 9-2 start and are sitting atop the East Penn Conference (EPC).
Relying on their explosive fast-break offense, the K-Kids convincingly beat East Stroudsburg South, 66-31, Jan. 3 and followed with a lopsided, 92-67 triumph over previously unbeaten Pleasant Valley Jan. 5.
It’s the one element that has plagued Northampton’s boys’ basketball team this winter.
The Konkrete Kids have a new identity this season, as they have had a number of players step into the spotlight every game.
They recently captured the Salisbury Holiday Tournament for the third consecutive season, a springboard for them the previous two seasons. Last year, the Kids embarked on a 11-game winning streak from the tournament, and it helped them get to a district final for the first time in 45 years.
Victoria Keenan is usually straight to the point.
When asked what she does to get away from basketball, the Northampton senior guard doesn’t mince her words.
“Nothing,” said Keenan. “I guess I am pretty boring.”
On the court, however, Keenan surely isn’t humdrum.
Over the past two years, Zach Gula played his part into transforming Northampton into one of the better programs around in the East Penn Conference and the Lehigh Valley.
This season, Gula knew he would play a bigger role, and he has made a smooth transition.
The junior guard has been one of the team’s leading scorers this season, as the Konkrete Kids continue to adjust to their new identity after a momentous season last year.
“We’re just playing hard,” said Gula. “We sometimes struggle to score at times, but we have had different people step up for us.