BETHLEHEM TOWNSHIP - The 38th Annual Via All-Star Classic tipped off at Northampton Community College Saturday, pitting teams from the Lehigh Valley Conference against the Colonial League during the opening games of the four-game card.
On the girls side, the Lehigh Valley West all-stars, comprised of players from Allen, Central Catholic, Dieruff, Emmaus, Parkland and Whitehall high schools took on a team of stars from the Colonial League, with players from Bangor, Palisades, Palmerton, Northwestern, Notre Dame Green Pond, Salisbury, Southern Lehigh and Wilson, with the LVC stars coming away with a 63-61 win.
Meanwhile, the boys all-star team from the same LVC schools downed a team of all-stars from the Colonial League, featuring players from Bangor, Catasauqua, Northern Lehigh, Northwestern, Notre Dame - Green Pond, Palisades, Salisbury and Wilson. The LVC boys picked up a win in that match-up in an exciting 105-95 game.
All of the players agreed that while they battled on the court, they also played with a lot of respect for the other players and made sure to have fun playing alongside players that they were more used to playing against. It was also an interesting send off for seniors, because they played the game under college rules, playing two twenty-minutes halves and using a shot clock.
"We had a great group of girls, they played hard, had a good time and it all benefitted a great cause, which is the most important thing," said Northwestern coach Chris Deutsch, who took the coaching reins of the Colonial League girls team. "It's not always easy to get a group of players to play with real effort in an all-star game, but these girls stepped up and played with heart."
In the girls game, Northwestern senior Sara Jones injured her ankle late in the game and didn't return. Following the game, Jones, who has been accepted to the Naval Academy, was going for x-rays that would help determine the extent of the injury.
When the boys took the court, Lehigh Valley West jumped out to an early lead and led by as many as 27, but the Colonial League team fought back, cutting the lead to just five points late in the game. Northern Lehigh's Josh Eden led the Colonial League with 18 points, including scoring five points in a 30-second span to cut the LVC lead to 91-86 with just over four minutes left in the game. Allen's R.J. Fletcher seemed to seal the Colonial League's fate when he slammed home a big-time dunk with just 30-seconds left to put the LVC up by 15, but the Colonial League still didn't die, scoring five unanswered points to cut it to ten.
"I was having a lot of fun out there," said Northern Lehigh's Caleb Johnson with a big smile on his face. "It was a great group of kids and we had a really good time.
"I'm glad I did it; got to meet a lot of great people."
The teams were made up of players voted into the game by media members from area outlets, including the TIMES NEWS area. That same group of voters assembled the Team of the Year lineup, Player of the Year honors and Scholar Athletes.
Northwestern's Jones was the girls Player of the Year, while Gerald Terry of Wilson was the boys Player of the Year.
The Scholar Athlete Awards went to Bridget Smith of Bethlehem Catholic and Josh Eden of Northern Lehigh.
"It was an honor to be a part of this," explained Eden. "It was a great event and it was a lot of fun to get out there with these guys and help to raise money all at the same time."
In addition to Northwestern's Jones, Emelie Meinhart of Palmerton was on the girls team, while Northwestern's Jarred Binder joined Northwestern's Eden and Johnson on the boys roster.