What A Mess

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Around the middle of the high school basketball season, my partner, Tom Stoudt, and I looked at each other and pretty much simultaneously said, “What a mess,” as we discussed the 6A boys’ basketball outlook. These are the big schools.

They bring the most drama – remember the semifinals last year at the PPL Center where 8,000+ fans packed the arena when Allen, Emmaus, Parkland, and Pocono Mountain West would play and they all were terrific.

Not this year. The two best teams, Central Catholic and Bethlehem Catholic, were in the 5A and the 4A district brackets.  That, historically, is somewhat unheard of.  The big schools normally dominate the attention.  Not this year.

The 6A bracket had no clear-cut favorite. It was so bad that, at the very last minute, the nine-team field became a ten-team field when Nazareth was added based on power points and not a qualifying record.  That had never happened before in 6A.  Nazareth had put their uniforms away and Liberty found out they were playing Nazareth and not Pleasant Valley (the team they had prepared to play).  Did I mention “mess”?

In the quarterfinals – #5 beat #4, #7 beat #2, and Nazareth (remember, the last minute entry) almost beat #1. But sanity returned in the semifinals when #1 East Stroudsburg South (a team that has won one district championship ever in 1994 when they were JUST East Stroudsburg) and #3 Northampton (who last won a championship in 1972) came out on top to play for a championship.

But who would have guessed that two teams that were 9-13 last year and had a combined 70 years between titles would be playing for the most coveted District championship? Let me tell you – no one!

The “mess”, however, did not end there. The wind and snow arrived on Friday, causing problem after problem in the Lehigh Valley and paralyzed the North where East Stroudsburg South and Pocono Mountain West (a consolation game participant) reside.  Neither could get to their scheduled games on Saturday.

So, as I write this, the consolation game and the championship game are to be played tonight. All four teams will continue into the PIAA state playoffs.  Those games begin on Friday.

I just saw the weather forecast for later in the week – possible 6-12 inches of snow on Wednesday into Thursday.

Did I mention – MESS? Stay tuned.


  1. Did you know that mid-March is the expected hearing date by the Supreme Court to entertain New Jersey’s request to legalize sports betting? Las Vegas currently has the monopoly on legal betting in the US. The NCAA and the four professional leagues are suing to stop New Jersey. The Supreme Court decision could come as early as May.
  2. Michigan won the Big 10 basketball championship at Madison Square Garden over the weekend. Central Catholic’s Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman scored 51 points in the three tournament games and the TV announcers threw plenty of superlatives at him. “Local kid does well” – always a good story.
  3. Are you ready to fill out your brackets for the NCAA March Madness tournament? Do you like Villanova, Virginia, Kansas, Xavier, etc.? Or do you stay with Duke, North Carolina, or, perhaps, Michigan? Good luck to all.
  4. With all the hype over the NFL Draft, would you believe it is still eight weeks away? That’s right; the first round does not take place until Thursday, April 26. How many Saquon Barkley stories between now and then? He must be exhausted.
  5. Which of our teams has the greatest chance of getting to Hershey for the state championships? The Bethlehem Catholic girls could repeat and the Bethlehem Catholic boys have all the ingredients. RCN-TV will follow them to the semifinals.



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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