The SportsTalk Shop: Summer Hoops 2017 (Part 4)

We’re continuing our look at high school summer basketball news, notes and interviews with local athletes this week here at the “Shop.” A few teams that had some major question marks entering the summer have had some happy news of late, along with clips of interviews from three teams that are looking to make some major noise this winter—although each has some unique hurdles to overcome, along with talented teams to compete with in order to do so.

  • Nazareth’s Johan Dotson’s return is huge news for both the football and basketball programs. While his future is probably on the gridiron, when I spoke with him he seemed genuinely excited to help out a basketball squad that lacked experience last season. However, the returning players look much more comfortable—with some nice size up front—and Dotson’s court savvy and ability to distribute the basketball instantly makes the Blue Eagles a team to be reckoned with for the upcoming season

  • Whitehall lost no less than eight players to graduation, but don’t expect a lengthy rebuilding period—especially with the team playing at the 5A classification. Their kids have been working hard—and working well together-on the court. I saw them play several games this month—their players played with great tenacity and their on-court chemistry might end up being better than last year…

    

  • The Emmaus boys’ basketball team deserves some props for working hard this offseason and filling some very prominent shoes in their backcourt. After graduating probably the greatest pairing of guards in East Penn School District history and losing their first two games of this summer, the Hornets’ returning players have not lost a step and looked solid against some very strong teams this summer. Everyone knew standout big men Josh Artis and Zack Sabol were going to be back, but I’ve been impressed by how well the team has worked together and is sharing the ball. Forget using the term “rebuilding” for the Hornets, as Emmaus will probably find themselves among the upper echelon once again this season.

Don’t forget to catch our final “SportsTalk Gets Wild” show of the summer, broadcasting live from Buffalo Wild Wings (on Grape Street in Whitehall) this Thursday, when our featured guests will be organizers, coaches and players who participate in the annual Catasauqua Summer Basketball Tournament. We’ll share memories of preview’s year’s “TOC” games along with top moments, players and special games, along with previewing this year’s event which will commence next week.

The SportsTalk Shop: Summer Hoops 2017 (Part 1)

With area schools now out of session, high school summer league basketball action has been picking up speed this past week.

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The “SportsTalk​” cameras were out and about covering several different local tournaments in the RCN viewing area the last few days and caught up with a number of coaches and players to get their thoughts on summertime basketball thus far.

(For more of these interviews, plus additional video highlights of summertime basketball action, check out last week’s “RCN Sports Talk presented by the Morning Call” program available through RCN On Demand as well as this Thursday’s show.)

A few notes/observations on the summer basketball action…

*The Central Catholic girls basketball team looks to return to form this year. After a rare under-500 regular season last winter, the Vikettes have added both height and depth to a young but talented team. With an extra year of experience under their belts, Central’s players looked extremely confident (and efficient) in running Coach Kopp’s motion offense to near perfection in the Holy Family Tournament last week—claiming the #1 ranking heading into the final day of action with their scrappy style of play.

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*Northampton, Nazareth and Easton are three of a number of girls teams that lost significant players to graduation, but each has lots of talent coming up through its system. The K-Kids probably have the biggest gap to fill, replacing Aja Blount (who averaged over 20 points and almost 20 rebounds per game).

Easton has shown a strong back court presence, led by Jah’nel Oliver, who had 13 points in the Holy Family Championship game, and boasts several outstanding forwards as well, including Hanna Doell—who is back after missing last season with an injury.

Nazareth also some big shoes to fill and is still looking to establish its back court combination (and have a TON of unselfish ball distributors), but the Blue Eagles have lots of depth at every position (and even more height coming in) and no doubt will be among the top teams in the 6A classification once again this year.

 

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*Before I saw the Patriots last weekend, several parents (from opposing schools, no less) advised me to keep an eye on both Whitehall and Freedom girls teams—programs that were not considered about the elite teams last winter. Both squads have a number of young players coming up, and one player from a rival school that I talked with said she’s not looking forward to facing either of those teams again during the regular season.

We’ll have more interviews, video highlights and packages, both on this Thursday’s “SportsTalk” program (7pm, LIVE) and here in the next installment of the “SportsTalk Shop.”

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Also, don’t forget to stop by Buffalo Wild Wings (Grape St., Whitehall, PA) this this Thursday night for this week’s show as we broadcast LIVE on location. Check out the “SportsTalk Gets Wild” page here on the RCN-TV website for more details on this show and for ways to help out a local organization!

 

The SportsTalk Shop: Summer Hoops 2016 – Part 1

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Summertime basketball has really exploded in the RCN viewing area over recent years, with rules expanding to make it more “coach friendly” (most of the time) and to increase the exposure of young athletes in both the Washington and Eastern Pennsylvania regions.

Some of the best teams in the country come into the Lehigh Valley, Philadelphia and the DMV area, and many players in these areas get to showcase their talents.  As we’ve seen over the last few years, players (Victor Oladipo, Darrun Hilliard, and others) pave ways for themselves that could lead to one day playing in the NBA.

Over the next couple weeks we’ll take a look at some of the tournament action in the RCN viewing area, along with news on the players and teams that we cover on ‘RCN SportsTalk.’

Goodman Basketball
In the DMV region, Goodman Basketball has been a long-standing tradition that was in danger of dying out a few years ago, but has come back with a vengeance and bigger than ever before.  A number of talented athletes each year both participate (and later return for) this event each summer.

Here’s a video detailing more of this year’s event and the history of the Goodman tourney…

Bonner Prendergast
The team looked very solid with double-digit wins over Phillipsburg and Berks Catholic recently, while playing without its best player.  Lane Christian and Mike Perralta were key players in several games this past weekend, but they have a very well balanced team and could be a player in this winter’s district playoffs.

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Bonner Prendergast was one of just eight teams this weekend at Cedar Beach (Allentown) that made it to the final day of the tournament with an undefeated record.

Lincoln Leadership
This summer was actually my first chance to see this team in person—and they did not disappoint.  Although they did not make it to the later rounds of some of the Lehigh Valley’s tournament so far (they have been one of the smallest schools in the summer leagues), they have a nice team with good numbers and played very scrappy basketball each time I saw them.

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Liberty
Last year around this time I remarked how impressed I was with gritty Hurricane players like Cam Hoffman, Alex Serrano and company.  They had an impressive showing in their games this past weekend, making it through to the morning of the final day without suffering a loss.  With several weeks remaining in different summer leagues and tournaments, Liberty should be a fun team to watch the rest of the summer, not to mention be fierce competition for Allen and Parkland for top spots in the EPC this winter.

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Nazareth
While Nazareth will be going through a retooling effort—at least this summer—after losing so many key parts of their team, an under-the-radar player to keep an eye on might be Mayo Raman.  In a game versus Saucon Valley he came up big in pressure situations—scoring 12 points in the second half of that game and hitting a clutch “3” to send the game to overtime.

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We’ll have more high school summer basketball talk and insights on this Thursday’s “RCN SportsTalk” program (live, 7pm on RCN-TV) and next week here at the “SportsTalk Shop.”