With football's biggest game about to take center stage, the Whitehall football team recognized their own gridiron accomplishments at their annual banquet.
The banquet, held Jan. 18, featured a long list of accomplishments by a team that finished 8-3, making it to the quarterfinals of the district playoffs.
In order to get to that point it took a monumental team effort, and those achievements were celebrated when they huddled together to acknowledge one another at their annual gathering.
Robert "Butchy" Tully didn't waste any time wrapping up a double-leg takedown to begin his match against Matthew Gross from William Allen, executing the move before the echo from the referee's whistle had subsided.
From that point the senior grappler was in control, moving from the takedown into a quick pinning combination that had Gross stacked at 1:22. It was one of eight bouts resulting in bonus points for the Zephyrs as they rolled to a 48-18 win over the Canaries last Wednesday in Allentown.
After a tough last-second loss to William Allen last Friday, the Zephyrs boys basketball team rebounded with two big league wins, keeping their playoff aspirations in tact as they approach the heart of their Skyline Division games in the upcoming weeks.
The Zephs promptly defeated Pocono Mountain East High School the following night, then dismantled Liberty who was previously unbeaten in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference.
Fast starts are often a prelude to success in sports, and when William Allen's Tashawna Flood hit a lay-up to give the Canaries a quick 2-0 lead, it seemed the Zephyrs were in for an uphill battle all night.
However, Jill Rex's corner jumper quickly knotted the score, and from that tying basket, Whitehall never trailed again, surviving Allen's furious comeback bid in the third period to post another league win.
Whitehall once again won the Zephyr Holiday Classic, making it two consecutive years in which they've claimed the annual basketball championship.
In the past two years, Whitehall faced North Hunterdon in the finals, but this year's foe was Saucon Valley. The Zephs relied on strong second and third quarters to edge the Panthers, 62-58 to capture the Classic held Dec. 29-30 at Zephyr Gymnasium.
Much like eggnog and candy canes, the Zephyr Duals has become one of the staples of the holiday season.
This year's Zephyr Duals held Jan. 3 featured 15 teams, with Wyaluisng Valley Sr./Jr. High School winning the tournament. The Rams claimed the championship after defeating Emmaus High School 41-33 in the finals. They clinched the victory by winning eight of the 14 bouts, five by pins.
It's customary to ring in the New Year with lots of noisemakers, and the Whitehall girls basketball team did just that, much to the surprise of everyone in the gym, when they hosted Northampton last week.
That happened late in the third quarter when the fire alarm suddenly sounded, briefly halting the game on Jan. 2. At that point Whitehall was leading 26-17, and it could be argued that the Zephs were on fire throughout the game, prompting the need for the alarm.
The Zephyr boys basketball team rode the hot hand of Jake Meyers who helped stake them to an early lead against Bethlehem Catholic High School, and then held on for a much needed 62-57 league victory on Tuesday night.
After compiling a double-digit lead for most of the game, the Zephyrs allowed the Golden Hawks to trim the lead to 49-40 with 5:52 left to play in the game. Bethlehem Catholic was able to close the gap thanks to back-to-back threes by Freddie Simmons, prompting a timeout.
It's that time of year when people look back and take stock of their lives, reflecting on where they've been and the people who've been instrumental in their growth and prosperity.
While it applies to individuals, athletic teams can also use that time to look back on people and coaches who have influenced their lives.
That was evident on Tuesday night when a couple of people who have played prominent roles in the Whitehall basketball program were remembered for their contribution and dedication to the sport and the people who play it.
Former Whitehall coach Dick Tracy will have a permanent spot in a place where he built a legacy that has helped shape the lives of all of those who knew him.
Tracy's name is now emblazoned on the basketball court inside Zephyr Gymnasium, a reminder of his contribution to a team and a community since he began his coaching tenure in 1972. The court dedication preceded last Tuesday's game against Nazareth Area High School and included many of his former players, from both Whitehall and Dieruff, all of whom impacted by his mentorship and leadership.