New Northampton boys basketball Matt Scholl said he has a good experience with his team playing in the Lehigh Valley Summer Varsity League indoors at Whitehall High School over the past month.
“It’s great that we have that facility and we don’t have to worry about rain over the summer,” he said. “But I’m excited to get outside, too, for the tournament this weekend. Playing outside has been a big part of basketball in the Lehigh Valley for a long time. We haven’t been out there yet this summer.”
That’s the general sentiment of many involved as the Cedar Beach Basketball Showcase, also known as the Bash at the Beach, begins Thursday. It’s the first of two major high school tournaments slated this summer with the other one scheduled for the final weekend of July.
“Playing outdoors brings its own set of challenges as I watch the wind blow from my house,” he said. “Hopefully, it’s not so windy when we’re out there playing. I think the kids enjoy playing outside. We have a lot of new players who haven’t had a lot of experience playing outside. We had a lot of seniors last year when we had some good runs in these outdoor tournaments. I’m excited to see how they do.”
Northampton was the last local boys team standing in the 2021-22 season, reaching the PIAA Class 6A quarterfinals.
Coy Stampone retired shortly after the season ended and star players such as Isaac and Isaiah Harris, Lucas Lesko and Cooper King have graduated.
The Konkrete Kids, who don’t play until 10 am Saturday against Lower Dauphin or Central York, will be one of the more intriguing teams among the 30 in the varsity big-school bracket.
Those 30 will be in action along with 11 small-school teams and 14 JV teams.
Freedom, another big-school entrant, is also worth a look. The Patriots are coming off a 10-13 season, but are having a good summer season with a 7-2 record after a win over Dieruff on Tuesday night. They will be in action Friday night against Ephrata.
Nick Ellis, a senior who was The Morning Call’s rookie of the year in 2019-20 and an all-league player last year, scored 20 against Dieruff and he is also looking forward to playing outside.
“We’ve all been looking forward to playing outside,” Ellis said. “That’s what we look forward to in the summer, playing outside. There’s a ton of people usually out there watching the games. And there’s music and food, all of that stuff, and we look forward to it because it’s a fun experience. We don’t normally get to play outside. It’s great.”
Ellis believes Freedom has a chance to be great.
“We’ve won six or seven in a row and we’re playing well,” he said. We’re looking to win a district championship this year. It’s district championship or bust. That’s the goal. We need to play together and play hard. We didn’t play as a team last year and had too many distractions get in our way. We’ve got the chemistry down this year. We just need to come and play.”
Tournament director Glen Klein believes he has a very balanced pair of tournaments with several contenders in both the big-school and small-school divisions.
Many of the local teams are in action on Thursday night and a lot of out-of-area schools will take the spotlight on Friday.
Parkland, last year’s champ, isn’t in action until Saturday morning. Some schedule changes — Dieruff is now playing on Thursday night instead of Friday for example — had to be made after the original schedule was done and Reading has replaced Executive Education in the big-school bracket.
“I am looking forward to being outside,” Klein said. “The only reason we went inside for the league is because we were going indoors 70% of the time anyway because of the weather and this made it more convenient to communicate with everybody on those days when the forecast is calling for rain. This tournament was built for the outside. It’s a grueling, double-elimination tournament and this year it should be very balanced.”
Klein said the tournament sponsors are Service Electric Cable and St. Luke’s, although many other sponsors such as Biaggio’s, Wert’s Cafe, Jack’s Slice, Cousins, Yocco’s contribute in all kinds of ways.
The title games are slated to go off at 5, 6 and 7 pm on Sunday.
OPENING ROUND SCHEDULE
BIG SCHOOL VARSITY
Emmaus vs. Liberty (5); Allentown Central Catholic vs. Nazareth (5); Reading vs. Southern Lehigh (5); Muhlenberg Twp. vs. Easton (6); Daniel Boone vs. Whitehall (6); Allen vs. Wilson West Lawn (6); Dieruff vs. Notre Dame-Green Pond (6)
Lower Dauphin vs. Central York (5); Hershey vs. Bangor (5); Phillipsburg vs. Exeter (5); Gov. Mifflin vs. Central Dauphin (5); Lancaster Catholic vs. Pocono Mt. East (6); Berks Catholic vs. Quakertown (6); Ephrata vs. Freedom (6).
SMALL SCHOOL VARSITY
Bethlehem Christian vs. Catasauqua (6); Salisbury vs. Lehighton (7); Saucon Valley vs. Panther Valley (7).
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Warren Hills vs. Upper Perk (6); Bethlehem Christian/Catasauqua vs. Roberto Clemente (7); Holy Cross vs. Salisbury/Lehighton; Oley Valley vs. Saucon Valley/Panther Valley (7).
JV BOYS BASKETBALL
Liberty freshmen vs. Easton freshmen (7); Dieruff vs. Nazareth (7).
Northampton vs. Allentown Central Catholic (7); Parkland vs. Southern Lehigh (8); Easton vs. Allen (8); Holy Cross vs. Liberty JV (8).
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