Winter Highlights 2021 (Part II)

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Last week we looked back at some of the highlights from this past winter sports season.

This week, we continue our glance back at the last several weeks of wrestling and basketball sports action that we brought you on RCN-TV.

RCN Sports: District XI Individual Wrestling Championship (3/21)    



RCN Sports: Nazareth vs. Archbishop Carroll (3/21)
 

RCN Sports: Parkland vs. Nazareth (3/21)

 RCN Sports: Parkland vs. Northampton (3/21)

 RCN Sports: Pocono Mountain West vs. Allen (3/21)

RCN Sports: Allentown Central Catholic vs Jim Thorpe (3/21)

RCN Sports: Allentown Central Catholic vs. Middletown (3/21)

 RCN Sports: East Stroudsburg South vs. Bangor (3/21)

 RCN Sports: Notre Dame Green Pond vs. Executive Education (3/21)

Remember, RCN viewers can see all of our sports programming for free at any time through RCN On-Demand for shows and sports events for up to two months from the day their first air on RCN-TV.

Also, we’ll continue our look ahead to the spring sports season on this Thursday’s “RCN SportsTalk” show with more interviews from players and coaches currently participating in the season that just got underway.  This week’s guests include members of the Freedom girls softball team.

Winter Highlights 2021

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company. 

As we reflect upon the recently completed winter sports season, there were certainly some ups and downs for teams, administrators, fans, members of the media and everyone associated with high school sports.

Fortunately, we got through the season with no “catastrophes” (aka, zero COVID-19 deaths among student athletes in Pennsylvania according to the PIAA’s recently released information about the winter sports campaign).  We completed the state championships the previous weekend with only two teams having to withdraw from the state tournaments due to the pandemic…and that is for ALL winter sports.

And…we had our share of very competitive games on RCN-TV this past winter.

Here is a look back at some of the sports action we brought to our audience this season…

 VIDEO CLIPS: 

1) RCN Sports: Allen vs. Parkland (2/21)

2) RCN Sports: Allen vs. Parkland 2 (3/21)

3) RCN Sports: Allentown Central Catholic vs. Pope John Paul II (3/21)

4) RCN Sports: Palmerton vs. Northwestern Lehigh (3/21)

5) RCN Sports: Liberty vs. Emmaus (3/21)

6)  RCN Sports: Bangor vs. Bethlehem Catholic (3/21)

7)  RCN Sports: Bangor vs. Notre Dame Green Pond (3/21)   

 

8) RCN Sports: Allen vs. Archbishop Wood (3/21)


9) RCN Sports: Allentown Central Catholic vs. Bethlehem Catholic (3/21)


 More video highlights from this past winter coming your way next week here at “The Shop.”

 

 

 

STATE CHAMPS!

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

It’s not uncommon for me to congratulate an individual wrestler and/or a Lehigh Valley wrestling team for winning a state gold medal here on this blog this time of year.

However, it’s been 35 years since anyone from the Lehigh Valley could congratulate a boys basketball team for accomplishing the same honor during the winter sports season.

Allentown Central Catholic became the first Valley boys basketball team since…Central Catholic did it back in 1986.  We’ve had a few girls basketball teams bring home titles over the last several decades but many skeptics around the area thought we might never see another boys title from this area again. Fortunately, the Vikings proved them wrong and defeated Hickory High School, 41-40, last Thursday evening.

Like most teams this winter, Central Catholic had to overcome some adversity. 

Their team was shut down three times because of COVID–either via state mandates or because of reported cases within their own program.  Among their constatent scheduling issues…three times they scheduled and had to postpone their non-conference game vs. Notre Dame-Green Pond in what would have been a match of two of the Valley’s best teams (an additional storyline:  Central’s assistant athletic director is related to Notre Dame’s head coach and best player).

Two other times we were scheduled to broadcast a Central game–one time the game was cancelled 47 hours before tipoff, the other time, 3-½ hours before it was slated to start.

They also had personnel issues.  Their biggest concern among the players was the loss of their starting center, Christian Spudnardi, for two-thirds of their season with an ankle injury.  He recovered two weeks before the playoffs started and gave the Vikings their first 100% healthy starting lineup roughly ten days before the postseason got underway.

We’ll hear more on the Vikings’ historic season from Central Catholic Head Coach Dennis Csensits and members of his team on an upcoming edition of “RCN SportsTalk” (a number of their players also play spring sports, so we’ll have to find a date that works for as many of their student-athletes as possible).

This winter also gave some vindication to the Nazareth and Bethlehem Catholic girls basketball teams–both were alive in the state playoffs when the coronavirus took a hold of everything going on in the sports world last year and made for a premature ending on their quest for a championship.

Although both teams lost before getting a chance to play in the Pennsylvania state final, at least they had a season and had the opportunity to compete for the championship without having the games pulled out from under them–as was the case a year ago.

As far as wrestling, Lehigh Valley teams did well in states…although not their usual dominance that local squads normally have at Hershey.

There were a few individuals who won gold medals but for the first time in several years, no school walked away with the PIAA trophy.

The reasons are both most probably tied to the pandemic.  

Lehigh Valley teams have an advantage competing in one of the most prominent wrestling communities in the country.  Because of the limited scheduling of meets, many wrestlings did not get to compete against some of the other best wrestling teams like they normally do in any other season.  A number of schools use the motto “iron sharpens iron,” and facing that tough level of wrestling on a weekly basis can’t help but make wrestlers better prepared for states.

Furthermore, some schools gain skills by competing at outside tournaments featuring some of the best wrestlers in the country–utilizing those skills learned and applying them in state competitions.  Because many of the nation’s top tourneys were cancelled, the top wrestlers didn’t have those experiences as well.

Still, just to get through this winter season while staying healthy was an accomplishment.  For the Central Catholic’s boys basketball team, who persevered through all its hurdles (and had a number of nail-biting victories over the last two weeks), they captured the ultimate prize for a high school sports program.

Congratulations Vikings!

FINAL HOOPS POLLS 2021

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

 Before we take our final look at this winter’s high school basketball poll (and in the interest of full disclosure)…let’s look back at which teams our poll experts had predicted when we started the season – the first time – back in late November/ early December.

EPC-LV TOP 5 (Preseason Version)

1)     Central Catholic

2)      Allen

3)     Easton

4)    Parkland

5)    Northampton

COLONIAL TOP 5 (Preseason Version)

1)  Southern Lehigh                   

2)  Notre Dame

3)  Bangor           

4)   Northwestern        

5)  Palmerton

As you’ll see, the biggest change – and the biggest surprise – was Southern Lehigh.  The Spartans were tapped by many to be the best team in the Colonial League and in Class 5A, featuring the return of one of the premier basketball players from the previous season.  Instead, the defending Colonial League and District 11 5A champions were eliminated in the first round of both the conference and district playoffs.

Obviously, the main goal for all teams was to just try to get through this past winter sports season healthy.  Otherwise, you would have to look at Southern Lehigh as one of the biggest disappointments of the winter.

The EPC poll had fewer surprises and was a little easier to predict.

With that, it’s time for us to take our final look at our high school basketball or teams in the RCN viewing area within District XI boundaries.

For this winter, we broke the two polls down into the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference (Lehigh Valley teams only) and Colonial League schools, within the RCN broadcast area.

Like the fall, our pollsters consisted of local media members and coaches/administrators from our local teams, who will remain anonymous so they can vote honestly without retribution and to avoid any “bulletin board” material.

So below we have high school polls for both leagues, along with the listing of all of the teams that are included in our respective categories.

Feel free to email me at Chris.Michael@rcn.net for your thoughts on our final poll and we might read and respond to your emails on this week’s SportsTalk show.

EPC-LV TOP 5

1)    Allen

2)    Central Catholic

3)    Parkland

4)    Easton*

5)    Northampton

*Season concluded due to school district protocols

Eligible Teams (in no particular order):

Central Catholic, Bethlehem Catholic, Easton, Freedom, Liberty, Dieruff, Allen, Parkland, Whitehall, Emmaus, Nazareth, and Northampton


COLONIAL TOP 5

1)   Bangor               

2)  Notre Dame

3)  Northwestern

4)  Palmerton

5)  Southern Lehigh

Eligible Teams (in no particular order):

Bangor, Pen Argyl, Notre Dame – Green Pond, Wilson, Catasauqua, Salisbury, Saucon Valley, Northwestern, Northern Lehigh, Southern Lehigh and Palisades

We will be looking at the last several months of scholastic sports action in our viewing area over the next few weeks here at “The Shop” and on our RCN SportsTalk television program.

Simultaneously, we’ll start gearing up for the spring sports season, present some interviews and previews of local teams and storylines of interest and more … all coming your way over the next month!

HOOPS POLLS: 3/16/21

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Here’s three local sports observations as we head into the first week of the PIAA state basketball playoffs.

1)  It was good to feel “normal” last week…our sports crew produced nine high school basketball games over a 74-hour span.

For me, it was hectic contacting coaches, compiling information, distributing it to the different members of our crew and then broadcasting the games themselves.

Hectic…but enjoyable!

We are “normally” quite busy doing this at this time of year (and I didn’t get much sleep last week), but it’s what we have been used to over the years and it felt good to have that “rush” again before and during all those games.  The best part was crowning champions–and we did just that for seven of the eight local teams from our coverage area.

A special shout out to this year’s district basketball champions from Notre Dame-Green Pond, Executive Education Charter Academy, Bangor, Bethlehem Catholic, Nazareth, Allen and the Allentown Central Catholic boys and girls teams.

You may have noticed that most of this year’s winning teams were “non-boundary schools.”  That has been a source of a lot of commentary among local sports fans over the last few days.  We’ll have more on that aspect of the winter sports season, along with the changing landscape of high school sports, coming up over the next few weeks on “SportsTalk” and here at “The Shop.””

2) Of the teams that were victorious, most face stiff competition right off the bat.  With the state playoffs brackets drastically reduced, we won’t see many of those “blow out” games we typically see through the first two rounds of the PIAAs, which should make for better basketball all the way around.

Be sure to refer to the RCN TV broadcast schedule for our listing of teams, days and times of our coverage of local teams over the next few weeks–provided teams keep winning (it is a single elimination tournament!)

3)  Time for us to take a look at this week’s high school basketball or teams in the RCN viewing area within District XI boundaries.

With constant uncertainty throughout the winter months, our pollsters still did a credible job of picking our teams each week.  

For this winter, we are breaking the two polls down into the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference (Lehigh Valley teams only) and Colonial League schools, within the RCN broadcast area.  

Like the fall, our pollsters will consist of local media members and coaches/administrators from our local teams, who will remain anonymous so they can vote honestly without retribution and to avoid any “bulletin board” material.  Our media members will reveal themselves when they appear on our show (and if they don’t and have “bad picks,” I’ll be sure to point that out to our audience!:)

So below we have high school polls for both leagues, along with the listing of all of the teams that are included in our respective categories.

Feel free to email me at Chris.Michael@rcn.net for your thoughts on this week’s poll and we might read and respond to your emails on this week’s SportsTalk show.

EPC-LV TOP 5

1)   Allen

2)  Central Catholic

3)  Parkland

4)  Easton*

5)  Northampton

*Season concluded due to school district protocols

Eligible Teams (in no particular order):

Central Catholic, Bethlehem Catholic, Easton, Freedom, Liberty, Dieruff, Allen, Parkland, Whitehall, Emmaus, Nazareth, and Northampton


COLONIAL TOP 5

1)   Bangor               

2)  Notre Dame

3)  Northwestern

4)  Palmerton

5)  Southern Lehigh

Eligible Teams (in no particular order):

Bangor, Pen Argyl, Notre Dame – Green Pond, Wilson, Catasauqua, Salisbury, Saucon Valley, Northwestern, Northern Lehigh, Southern Lehigh and Palisades

Be sure to bookmark our high school winter sports broadcast schedule here on the website and check it frequently throughout the next two weeks for our coverage of the PIAA playoffs!

HOOPS POLLS: 3/9/21

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Here’s three local sports observations as we head into District 11 championship week…

 1)  While the coaches are not saying anything, parents, students and Red Rover sports fans had plenty to say about the alleged protocols that forbade its basketball teams from participating in the district tournament.

Over 2,000 signatures were signed to a petition demanding the team be allowed to participate but Easton school administrators held fast and claimed the current rules state that the team cannot participate in the playoffs.

Both the boys and the girls teams were certainly among the top two or three teams in the district’s 6A classification.  The Easton girls defeated the reigning state champions from Bethlehem Catholic — twice — to open the season…only to have their year and prematurely less than two months later.

2) Of the teams that are still left, there’s still plenty of great boys and girls basketball games to be played this week.  The fact that this year’s district tournament is an open tournament and “a win or go home” format has only intensified the interest in each single game, with only the district winners advancing into state competition.  This is personally something I would like to see for the playoffs going forward and would provide many benefits.   However, this obviously would decrease the number of playoff games and therefore the amount of revenue so I doubt it will be something we will see again once everything returns to “normal.”

Make sure you bookmark and keep coming back to the RCN TV website for the teams and times of the games we are broadcasting this week and for the state playoffs which begins next Tuesday.

3)  With constant uncertainty throughout the winter months, our pollsters still did a credible job of picking our teams each week.  With the exception of the Easton situation listed above, they have been about as consistent as humanly possible.

For this winter, we are breaking the two polls down into the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference (Lehigh Valley teams only) and Colonial League schools, within the RCN broadcast area.  With the reduced schedules and many of our teams staying mostly “in country” with their opponents this year due to the COVID-19 restrictions, this plan for our polls will keep things interesting since many of the top teams within the local conferences will not have the opportunity to actually face each other this fall.

Like the fall, our pollsters will consist of local media members and coaches/administrators from our local teams, who will remain anonymous so they can vote honestly without retribution and to avoid any “bulletin board” material.  Our media members will reveal themselves when they appear on our show (and if they don’t and have “bad picks,” I’ll be sure to point that out to our audience!:)

So below we have high school polls for both leagues, along with the listing of all of the teams that are included in our respective categories.

Feel free to email me at Chris.Michael@rcn.net for your thoughts on this week’s poll and we might read and respond to your emails on this week’s SportsTalk show.

EPC-LV TOP 5

1)   Allen

2) Central Catholic

3) Easton*

4) Parkland

5)  Northampton

*Season concluded due to school district protocols

Eligible Teams (in no particular order):

Central Catholic, Bethlehem Catholic, Easton, Freedom, Liberty, Dieruff, Allen, Parkland, Whitehall, Emmaus, Nazareth, and Northampton

COLONIAL TOP 5

1)  Notre Dame    

2) Bangor   

3)  Northwestern

4)  Palmerton

5)  Southern Lehigh

Eligible Teams (in no particular order):

Bangor, Pen Argyl, Notre Dame – Green Pond, Wilson, Catasauqua, Salisbury, Saucon Valley, Northwestern, Northern Lehigh, Southern Lehigh and Palisades

Be sure to bookmark our high school winter sports broadcast schedule here on the website and check it frequently.  With several games already postponed or canceled so far this season, there could be changes from day to day!

 

HOOPS POLLS: 3/2/21

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Here’s three local sports observations before we take a look at this week’s high school basketball polls…

1)  I mentioned back in early December that this year’s Colonial League campaign–with or without COVID related issues–was going to be one of the most competitive seasons over the past 20 years … and that turned out to be the case!

There were a number of games that went down to the final possession for both the girls and boys teams during its playoffs last week.  

The girls Notre Dame team – the tourney’s number one seed–was upset by Palmerton in the semifinals.  Last week’s games saw several ladies who will be playing Division-I college ball in the future.

For the championships that you saw on RCN-TV last week, we had two great ball games, starting with a back and forth battle between Northwestern and Palmerton girls in game one.

The Bombers, led by Junior Brianna Moore, held the lead early in the fourth quarter before she went down with an injury. The Tigers shortly thereafter took the lead and never relinquished it the rest of the way, although Palmerton tried to make it interesting again late.

The boys contest was also a seesaw battle and featured two of the very best players–not just in the conference–but in the entire region, in Brendan Boyle and CJ Miles. Defense was definitely not a factor as the teams combined for nearly 160 points with the second seeded Slaters taking the title this year.

Both star players scored over 75 points by themselves over the last three games (Boyle scored a school record 42 in the league semi-finals).  Expect to see more fireworks from them as the district playoffs get underway this week.  Both Boyle’s Notre Dame team, in 3A, and Miles’ Bangor team, in 5A, expect some stiff competition.  With this year’s districts being an open tournament and a “win or go home” atmosphere, it’ll be a very exciting next two weeks in the Lehigh Valley.

2)  As far as the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference, Nazareth wrestling already has captured the District 11 3A individual title, with the “Super Regional” tournament coming up this weekend.  Also, the Nazareth girls basketball team heads into their postseason action as the team to beat in 6A.

What drives these teams and what are their goals over the next several weeks?  Hopefully, you watched our “SportsTalk” show featuring both of these teams back in January so you already know what drives them and also heard some great stories about their close knit programs. 

Don’t forget, RCN customers can see all previous shows over the last two months for free through RCN on demand.

3)  Speaking of District XI basketball, their playoffs will have several new wrinkles this year as the pandemic has drastically changed the postseason requirements and formats. District Basketball Chair Ray Kinder will be on this week’s “SportsTalk” to breakdown all the changes and talk about what administrators went through to put this winter’s basketball tournament together.

And by the way, the perception that the Easton basketball teams willingly chose to “opt out” of this year’s district playoffs is not the case. More on that story in next week’s blog…

***********

It’s time to look at our scholastic basketball polls involving the District XI teams in our viewing area heading into this week’s action.

Below we have high school polls for both leagues, along with the listing of all of the teams that are included in our respective categories.

Feel free to email me at Chris.Michael@rcn.net for your thoughts on this week’s poll and we might read and respond to your emails on this week’s SportsTalk show.

EPC-LV TOP 5

1) Easton

2) Northampton

3) Central Catholic

4) Parkland

5)  Allen

Eligible Teams (in no particular order):

Central Catholic, Bethlehem Catholic, Easton, Freedom, Liberty, Dieruff, Allen, Parkland, Whitehall, Emmaus, Nazareth, and Northampton


COLONIAL TOP 5

1)  Bangor   

2)  Notre Dame

3)  Northwestern

4)  Palmerton

5)  Southern Lehigh

Eligible Teams (in no particular order):

Bangor, Pen Argyl, Notre Dame – Green Pond, Wilson, Catasauqua, Salisbury, Saucon Valley, Northwestern, Northern Lehigh, Southern Lehigh and Palisades

Be sure to bookmark our high school winter sports broadcast schedule here on the website and check it frequently as there continues to be changes from day to day!

 

HOOPS POLLS: 2/23/21

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Here are three local sports observations before we take a look at this week’s high school basketball polls…

1)  District 11 announced its schedule and sites for its upcoming postseason events for its individual wrestling tournaments coming up for the 2A and 3A classifications:

Regional Wrestling Tournaments (Feb. 27):
AA – Central Dauphin East HS
AAA – The Charles Chrin Community Center of Palmer Township

East Super Regional Wrestling Tournaments (March 6):
AA – Pottsville Area HS
AAA – Quakertown HS

The state tournament will once again be held at the Hershey Arena. In addition to this week’s regionals, last week’s 2A district championships were held at a unique location – the Charles Chrin Community Center. It certainly has been a strange winter sports season!

2) Before the basketball playoffs get underway later this week, we discussed many of the teams in the Lehigh Valley on the latest “SportsTalk” show.

Here’s a sample…

VIDEO: Keith’s Take on Top Lehigh Valley Teams

See the entire discussion this Thursday at 7pm and 9pm on RCN-TV to hear more from on the local hoops scene!

3)  Justin Paz gave one of the top performances by a point guard a few years ago at Bethlehem Catholic and is now having success at the next level at East Stroudsburg University. However, there’s another rising guard with the Golden Hawks, Edixson Gomez, who reminds me a lot of Paz in his junior year. Gomez sports an explosive first step, great court vision and is developing into an excellent passer. In a year where there’s a ton of outstanding guard play, keep an eye on Gomez for the remainder of this year and as one of the top returning guards for 2022.

***********
It’s time to look at our scholastic basketball polls involving the District XI teams in our viewing area heading into this week’s action.

For this winter, we are breaking the two polls down into the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference (Lehigh Valley teams only) and Colonial League schools, within the RCN broadcast area. With the reduced schedules and many of our teams staying mostly “in country” with their opponents this year due to the COVID-19 restrictions, this plan for our polls will keep things interesting since many of the top teams within the local conferences will not have the opportunity to actually face each other this fall.

With no eastern Pennsylvania conference playoffs this winter, our polls will be an intriguing barometer to who in fact is the best team in each conference (and, of course, bragging rights through the winter months).

So below we have high school polls for both leagues, along with the listing of all of the teams that are included in our respective categories.

Feel free to email me at Chris.Michael@rcn.net for your thoughts on this week’s poll and we might read and respond to your emails on this week’s SportsTalk show.

EPC-LV TOP 5

1) Easton 

2) Central Catholic

3) Northampton

4) Parkland

5) Bethlehem Catholic

Eligible Teams (in no particular order):

Central Catholic, Bethlehem Catholic, Easton, Freedom, Liberty, Dieruff, Allen, Parkland, Whitehall, Emmaus, Nazareth, and Northampton

COLONIAL TOP 5

1)   Northwestern

2)  Notre Dame

3)  Bangor

4)  Palmerton

5)  Southern Lehigh

Eligible Teams (in no particular order):

Bangor, Pen Argyl, Notre Dame – Green Pond, Wilson, Catasauqua, Salisbury, Saucon Valley, Northwestern, Northern Lehigh, Southern Lehigh and Palisades

Be sure to bookmark our high school winter sports broadcast schedule here on the website and check it frequently. With several games already postponed or canceled so far this season, there could be changes from day to day!

KEITH’S RETURN

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

 

Fans of “RCN SportsTalk” and of Lehigh Valley basketball know that SportsTalk co-host Keith Groller was diagnosed with COVID-19 in December and has had some difficulty overcoming that horrible illness.

No one had been more outspoken during the pandemic in promoting the high school games to continue over the last year.  Without delving into too much detail, it is pretty clear that he did NOT contract the disease by covering local sports events.  That being said, this awful sickness has been a significant setback for Keith and his recovery over the last few months has been much more drawn out than anyone would have liked.

This week, Keith makes his triumphant return to our program and talks for a segment about his ordeal over the last three months and also how his own experience now influences his thoughts on how high school sports should proceed going forward.

Yes, I’ll also be talking sports with him–getting his thoughts on this unusual winter scholastic season, some of the standout performances thus far and his players and teams to watch over the final two weeks of the regular season.

Tune in to hear more insights from Keith, along with our special guests from the Notre Dame basketball team on this week’s show.  The Crusaders posted some of the biggest wins so far this season, including a victory over the defending District XI 6A champions from Allen High School.

********

A few other news items for Lehigh Valley sports fans that we’ll talk about on this Thursday’s show…

After a plan was in place and was ALMOST approved, the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference decided to scrap its plan for a basketball playoffs.

The fact that a few schools like Liberty and Freedom, who, at the time the EPC cancelled their post-season, had played just two games COMBINED, really tied the hands of the league officials to conduct a fair playoff format.  With some schools playing well over a dozen games so far while other schools from the Poconos have also been limited in terms of games played, the decision to cancel the tournament seems to make sense.  The decision allows the schools that have been severely sidelined the chance to make up some of those postponed games during the last two weeks of February.

Also, the District XI decision to have all other games completed by February 26 and in time for their tourney to begin at the beginning of March, made it even tougher for the EPC to try to squeeze in their own post-season event.

The Colonial League, meanwhile, has been adamant since Day One that they were going to conduct a post-season event for their teams.

What’s the latest on their plans?  Which might be the Colonial teams to keep an eye on over the next month?  And what are some of the top storylines to keep an eye on over the next several weeks?

Tune in to this Thursday’s show at 7pm to find out.  (RCN customers can also watch the show for free On-Demand or set their DVRs to catch the program).

HOOPS POLLS: 2/2/21

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Here are three local sports observations before we take a look at this week’s high school basketball polls:

1)  While a few schools have struggled to remain competitive in high school wrestling, and others are struggling just to stay healthy and get on the mats, this Wednesday could be one of the premiere regular season events of the season. Northampton has looked solid against some of the premier wrestlers in the area (and therefore, the state) this winter and their matchup with Parkland will be a great barometer for both teams.  Also, the Trojans are one of just a handful of teams in Pennsylvania that have added female wrestlers to their regular rotation. If you’re a wrestling fan, there’s a few outstanding talents to keep an eye for years to come as more schools adopt women into their wrestling programs.

2)  If you were watching RCN SportsTalk two weeks ago, you’re probably not surprised that the Dieruff boys basketball team posted some of the biggest and most impressive wins over the last 10 days.  New Head Coach Marlon Randall talked about his new strategy and reasons for optimism among the Huskies ball club – a vision that quickly came to fruition with a pair of wins over Whitehall and our previously number one ranked team, Central Catholic. Dieruff is for real and, for the first time in a couple years, the traditional Battle of Allentown between Allen and Dieruff should be a great one to watch as they play each other twice over the next week.

3)  Two other teams that really have been playing well and pulled off some impressive victories over the last couple days are Northampton and Northwestern (yes, we also had Tigers Head Coach Jerry Lloyd on Sports Talk last month as well).  There have been six or seven really outstanding games featuring Colonial League teams in the month of January.  Northwestern, along with Bangor, Notre Dame and Palmerton could make some major waves come league and district playoff time.

With a couple exceptions, most teams got at least two, if not more, games in last week. With that, it’s time to look at our scholastic basketball polls involving the District XI teams in our viewing area heading into this week’s action.

Before we do, one more quick plug for our Thursday night show.  We mentioned in BOTH of our preseason high school basketball shows that the Lehigh County Division of the Eatern Pennsylvania Conference would be much further along in their development than the Northampton County teams. Therefore, it’s no surprise to our viewers that four of our top five teams in our EPC poll are all from schools west of the Lehigh River.

For this winter, we are breaking the two polls down into the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference (Lehigh Valley teams only) and Colonial League schools, within the RCN broadcast area.  With the reduced schedules and many of our teams staying mostly “in country” with their opponents this year due to the COVID-19 restrictions, this plan for our polls will keep things interesting since many of the top teams within the local conferences will not have the opportunity to actually face each other this fall.

While both local leagues are trying to press on with conference playoffs, the possibility of being able to crown league/district champions is still not 100-percent definite thanks to the pandemic.  Our polls will be an intriguing barometer to who in fact is the best team in each conference (and, of course, bragging rights through the winter months).

Feel free to email me at Chris.Michael@rcn.net for your thoughts on this week’s poll and we might read and respond to your emails on this week’s SportsTalk show.

EPC-LV TOP 5

1) Allen 

2) Central Catholic

3) Dieruff

4) Parkland

5) Northampton

Eligible Teams (in no particular order):

Central Catholic, Bethlehem Catholic, Easton, Freedom, Liberty, Dieruff, Allen, Parkland, Whitehall, Emmaus, Nazareth, and Northampton

COLONIAL TOP 5

1) Notre Dame

2) Bangor

3) Northwestern

4) Palmerton

5) Southern Lehigh


Eligible Teams (in no particular order):

Bangor, Pen Argyl, Notre Dame – Green Pond, Wilson, Catasauqua, Salisbury, Saucon Valley, Northwestern, Northern Lehigh, Southern Lehigh and Palisades

Be sure to bookmark our high school winter sports broadcast schedule here on the website and check it frequently.  With several games already postponed or canceled so far this season, there could be changes from day to day!