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The SportsTalk Shop: 3 HS Hoops Notes

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We’re about a month into this winter’s high school basketball season in the Lehigh Valley area.  As we embark on the “January” portion of the scholastic schedule, here are three observations of the new hoops season that I feel deserve some extra mention.

1.  Parkland’s extremely good, but…

I’ve been privileged to be surrounded by great minds in many different sports and try to defer to the local sports experts when formulating opinions on who the top teams are expected to be.  It’s for that reason that I rarely see a team play summer league basketball in July and can make “stone-cold” predictions about something that happens in February.  I broke my own rule this past summer when I saw the Parkland boys basketball team dominate in a variety of summer hoops tournaments, and said soon after on “SportsTalk” that I felt the Trojans were unquestionably the team to beat for league and district honors.  I felt good about my statement when I heard much smarter basketball minds proclaiming similar expectations as we got closer to the winter sports season–some even believing Parkland could go undefeated during the regular season.

This year’s Trojans’ team reminds me of the Emmaus boys team led by Aaron Grey, who would go on to play in the NBA.  They blitzed through the league playoffs and entered the District XI playoffs with a 28-0 record.  Their season came to a sudden and amazingly fast conclusion when they lost in the first round of the district playoffs.  This year’s Parkland team, albeit without the size of a Grey-type of player, might actually be deeper than that Emmaus team.  Clearly they continue to be the favorite in this area–there aren’t many Lehigh Valley teams that can play with them.  However, I do believe there are a few teams that could step up and cause Parkland trouble on a given night.

Here’s some of the highlights of several “other” top EPC teams playing during the first month of the season…

2.  A “somewhat” bizarre Colonial League start.

For what it’s worth, the current Colonial League standings are very close to my best guesses to the correct order of the standings.  But what has surprised me is some of the individual game results so far this season.  For example, I thought Bangor would be the number-one team in their division, but Bron Holland’s team has once again raised the bar again this season.  In the past, the Slaters would build a quality team for several years…peak for one or two years…then return to “rebuilding mode” for several more seasons.  But lately, Bangor seems to bounce back despite losing talent to graduation and surpass expectations.  They posted dominating wins over the first few weeks of the season, with many different players stepping up, while playing “lights-out” defense in most of their ball games.

In addition to Bangor, Saucon Valley, Salisbury and Southern Lehigh are also teams jumping out to solid starts.  However, that has not kept other teams from challenging the league’s top squads, as Wilson proved by just falling short in their attempt to beat the Slaters and Panthers before Christmas, and then capturing the annual Easton Rotary Championship just before New Year’s Eve.  Also, common opponents results have not been very revealing.  A repeating trend has team “A” beating team “B” soundly one night, only to lose to team “C” (a team that previously lost to team “B”).  It has made for a very entertaining first month to the season, although clearly the best game that I have seen so far this year is Saucon Valley/Notre Dame’s overtime battle, as seen on RCN-TV (available for free through RCN On-Demand).

Here are some of the highlights from that game.

3. Catty’s Changing Guard.

I thought it was a tremendous decision for Catasauqua to name Dave Troxell as their new athletic director this fall.  The only disappointing aspect about the move was that I would no longer see Dave coaching a girls basketball program that featured some of the school’s greatest athletic moments with him at the helm.  While the program struggled after his first departure from the team a few years back, I was confident that it would return to glory with him in charge.  With his promotion, I felt there were very few people reasonably able of taking over that position who could lead the team’s rebuilding efforts as swiftly as if Coach Trox himself were in charge.  I was happy to see one of those people, Ed Seidick, was chosen as their new head coach.  Ed is a Lehigh Valley guy who’s been a part of one of the top girls’ programs in the area, working under the tutelage of Jeff Jacksits.  He’s worked with some of the top female basketball athletes over the last several seasons, and the Northampton basketball program has been a constant contender at the 4A level for many years.

While the team may not be at playoff-level this year, I am confident it won’t be too long before we see the Rough Riders girls team back in the playoff picture.

What observations have you made about the 2014-15 edition of high school basketball in the Lehigh Valley area?  Which teams and players have stuck out in your mind so far?  Email your      comments to RCNSportsTalk@rcn.com and join Toomey Anderson, Tom Stoudt, Joe Craig and myself as we look at the first half of the basketball season and preview the second half on the January 15th edition of “RCN SportsTalk” (live at 6pm on RCN-TV).