On Thursday, March 5, the PIAA suspended all athletic events for a two-week period. Since then, every major and minor sporting event has been cancelled and placed in limbo for an indefinite amount of time. Not only does it appear that there will not be any more basketball this year, it is becoming very likely that no spring sports will be played either.
I am certainly not complaining about the decisions made – they were and continue to be necessary until we get a handle on this grave situation. Sports are part of the fabric of our lives proven by the void created by their complete absence right now. But, it pales in comparison to achieving our ultimate goal – overcoming Covid-19 (coronavirus).
Since it appears that only a miracle would finish the state basketball playoffs, some mention of our three teams that were still alive is necessary. Bethlehem Catholic, Nazareth, and Freedom were still advancing. All three teams had moved to the quarterfinals. Only seven teams stood between them and a state championship. It was quite possible that Nazareth and Freedom could have met one another in the state championship on March 20. Therefore, all three teams need a bit more ink.
Freedom was 24-5 this year losing three times to Bethlehem Catholic and in double overtime to Nazareth in the District XI championship. They were one shy of the most girls’ basketball wins in school history. They won both state games by double-digit margins. Their seniors had a combined record of 82-29 and won a District Championship in 2018. They had already advanced farther than any team in their history. They will never know how this season would have ended.
Nazareth was continuing a great season (26-4). Twenty-six wins is the most in a single season and they, too, had never advanced to the state quarterfinals. They managed to win the District championship after losing the EPC title to Bethlehem Catholic. Their two state wins were by margins of 28 and 11 points. They overcame being placed in the bottom half of the bracket and having to travel great distances for their games. That did not matter – they won anyway. Their team has no seniors, so, at least, they will all return next year.
Beca is in a category all their own. Their season ended with a 29-0 record. In the last four years, they have amassed a 112-8 record, last losing on January 31, 2019, to Freedom. They have won 42 straight games and two of the last three state titles. What made the end so disappointing this year was that their next opponent was Scranton Prep. Their record was 27-0. So without the shutdown, these two teams would have faced one another with a combined 56-0 record. Scranton Prep had already gone farther than any team in their history.
So the only defeats in state playoffs to these teams came from Covid-19. I would be shocked if another game is played this year. So, disappointment will always exist, “what-ifs” will always be asked, and outcomes will never be answered.
One thing we do know with certainty – Freedom, Nazareth, Bethlehem Catholic (and Scranton Prep) all had great seasons and, for that, they should be extremely proud.
ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)
- There was certainly more bad news this past week concerning high school basketball in the Lehigh Valley. First, was the announcement by Doug Snyder that he was resigning as the head basketball coach at Allen High School. This was his 23rd year at the helm and he had an incredible record of 364 wins and 263 losses. They finished this season 23-6 and won the EPC. Allen is not an easy place to coach with all the inner city problems, but Doug was the right person for the job. He never wavered on the values that he taught and never let winning get in the way of doing the right thing. He will be sorely missed.
- Within the same week, Liberty head coach Chad Landis decided it was time to spend more time with his wife and four daughters (certainly another huge challenge for him). Chad coached Liberty for 12 years and won 198 games. His team was 20-6 this past year. Much like Snyder, Landis made his players better people amid similar challenges. Two outstanding teachers of life and the game of basketball will now have to be replaced. No easy task, for sure.
- At least with NFL free agency occurring right now, there will be some sports news to report. What will Tom Brady, Dak Prescott, Drew Brees do? There are over 100 free agents so there should be something to talk about in the next month.
- Thank you to all the stat people, the athletic directors, the coaches, the administrative assistants, and to the fans for another great, yet somewhat unsatisfying year.
- Much like the rest of the month – TBD