Zephs fall to Hawks on Hall of Fame night
The sting of defeat is never easy, and for head coach Jeff Jones, their loss to Bethlehem Catholic last Friday night was a bit more painful than most.
The Zephyrs had played an outstanding first half of basketball, taking a 32-26 lead into the break. At one point they held a 27-26 advantage as they battled inside against a bigger Hawk frontcourt, doing yeoman’s work on the boards. A lot of teamwork went into building that lead, and Na’Mirr Boatwright’s stretch of consecutive plays in the second quarter were indicative of that teamwork. Twice he found Dylan McGinley on sweet dimes that the junior converted for layups. He also set up Shyhiem Foster with another assist, and had a put back during his time on the floor in the second period.
Once the second half began, they continued to execute on both ends of the floor, opening a 48-39 lead following McGinley’s bucket midway through the third quarter.
But Bethlehem Catholic’s two cornerstone pieces, guard Justin Paz and center Kyle Young, began heating up, Paz from outside and Young from inside, leading the Hawks comeback in the fourth quarter. They combined to score 22 points in the final quarter to seal the 70-64 victory.
The loss dropped the Zephs to 7-9 on the season, but what was uppermost on Jones’ mind after the game was the impact it had in their locker room.
“I’m disappointed for them that we come up short in these games because of how hard they’re playing and how hard they’re competing,” said Jones. “I can’t say enough about them, they come to practice and work. They’ll come to practice tomorrow and compete and play just as hard.”
He witnesses that effort on a daily basis. It’s a team that’s going to give you their best shot every night.
“The kids have competed every single game the same way,” said Jones. “It doesn’t matter who we’re playing, how many people are in the gym or if it’s practice, they compete at a really high level. We’re obviously not the most skilled team, but we run the offense as well as anybody and we compete as hard as hard anybody. We just have a couple of deficiencies that cost us, but I’ll take this team any day.”
Trailing by three points with a tick over 24 seconds left in the game, Jones said that they were looking to get McGinley the ball in the post. He said it’s a play they ran throughout the game. But once the play wasn’t there, they had to look for another option and their perimeter pass got tipped and stolen, leading to a Paz runout and foul that effectively iced the game.
“We didn’t try to do anything that we haven’t done before,” said Jones. “We were just looking to run one of our sets.”
Preceding Friday’s game against the Hawks was their annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony where they welcomed Donald H. Gantz, Tracy (Golly) Becker, Rob Gontkosky, Jerry Radocha and Chad Schwenk.
Guard Rick Melosky helped deliver an outstanding varsity basketball game to those inductees, leading them to the near-win against the 10-2 Hawks, the current front-runners in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference.
“It was exciting tonight with the Hall of Fame night, big crowd, and we wanted to put on a good show, and I think we did,” said Melosky.
It all began in the first half when they were sinking shots, whether it was Tyler Holubowski getting to the rim for a bucket, or Melosky converting a steal tor a score, their offense was in a good rhythm.
“It was a tremendous half for us,” said Melosky. “We did really good on the rebounds which was what we wanted to focus on tonight.”
They did a good job of denying Young some easy buckets while constantly making sure his shots were contested, not an easy task against the 6-10 post player.
“We were making our shots the whole game, but it just didn’t fall for us at the end,” said Melosky.
And that stung … for everyone.