Behind the Mic: Feel-good Stories

There are always “feel-good” stories every year in my world of Lehigh Valley basketball.

Just look a little deeper into the success of the Southern Lehigh girls’ basketball team.  They play with basically an iron five and four of them are underclassmen.  Only Sydney Cyr, who is outstanding, by the way, is a senior.  They won the Colonial League, but Colonial League teams are not expected to win Districts against teams from the bigger conferences.  Even though they appeared in their 31st District tournament, they were 16-30 in those appearances and 0-2 in the championship games.  That changed this year when they beat a very good Bethlehem Catholic team and won their first District XI title ever!  As I write this, they have won 27 straight games and are into the second round of the PIAA state playoffs.  Obviously, Coach Matt Cooper has done an outstanding job with this young team.  This is a great story which, perhaps, can only get better.

The Easton girls’ basketball team last won a title of any kind in 1970 – 46 years ago.  Head Coach Dave Lutz is a physical education teacher and he has had to stare at the banner every single day as it hangs in the gymnasium.  Even approaching the championship game this year, history showed that they had lost five and won none.  When his team won the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference championship, the first thing he told me was how he could not wait to see the new banner hanging in his office which is the gymnasium.  He knew he would have a good team, but he did not expect to go through almost the entire season without the full roster of players available to him.  This team suffered through injuries, heart arrhythmia, and mononucleosis.  Even now, as they prepare to play the second round of the state playoffs, their starting center, leading rebounder, and tallest player is not available.  Yet, they have continued to win.  They are the only District XI AAAA girls’ basketball team still playing.  Another chapter awaits them this week.

And then there is the Bangor boys’ basketball team.  They won the Colonial League, but that is “ho-hum” for them, having won three of the last four.  What is not “ho-hum” is winning in the District playoffs.  The last time they were in a District championship was in 1988 – 28 years ago.  The best player on that team was Bron Holland, who just happens to be the head coach of this year’s squad.  Bangor was not going to beat Parkland for the District championship.  They are ranked third in the state and no team has beaten Parkland since they got all their championship football players back.  Parkland has won 24 games in a row.  Take that game off Bangor’s schedule and they have won16 straight – 26 overall, a school record for wins.  This team has electrified and solidified a town.  Rumor has it that the town of Bangor is empty when the Slaters play on the road.  Some imply even the police attend (probably just the off-duty ones).  Now they are in the second round of the PIAA playoffs, unheard of for a AAAA Colonial League team.

As I watch the basketball season wind down, these are a few of the stories I will not forget.  They make me and, hopefully, our viewers “feel good’!

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. It must be nice to go out on top. Peyton Manning did it this past week.  He retired from football this past Monday after winning the Super Bowl for the Denver Broncos.  Only John Elway retired after winning the Super Bowl for the same team and becoming their General Manager.  Manning walked away from a guaranteed $19 million contract.
  1. I am usually not that interested in NBA scores during the regular season. But, on Sunday, the awful LA Lakers (13-51) beat the Warriors (yes, Stephen Curry’s Warriors), a team that is on track to go down as the greatest regular-season team in history. The Lakers entered with a .190 winning percentage compared to the Warriors’ .917 percentage. By percentage differential, it was the biggest upset in NBA history.
  1. The NCAA selection Sunday is March 13 with the NCAA Tournament beginning in Dayton, Ohio March 15-16. Time to jump into the “pool”.
  1. Lehigh or Holy Cross will represent the Patriot League in the tournament for the men. Whoever wins their championship game on March 9 may very likely play in Dayton.  The women’s final is Saturday, March 12.
  1. As of Monday, March 7, six of our high school basketball teams are still alive in the state playoffs (Easton, Southern Lehigh, Bethlehem Catholic girls; Bangor, Parkland, Emmaus boys). And, even better for our wrestling fans, District XI wrestlers captured EVERY title in the PIAA AAA Northeast Regional wrestling tournament.  On to the State Championships for them.

 

Gary Laubach About Gary Laubach

Gary began his broadcasting career with Twin County in 1972. Twin County eventually became C-TEC and then RCN. Gary holds the dual role of Director of Media Services and Sports Director/Broadcaster. He currently broadcasts about 140 sports and entertainment broadcasts a year, and oversees the scheduling of all sporting events for RCN.

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