Before the final of the varsity boys basketball game on Sunday night, Tony Stellar said it best when he stated that, "All of these teams played against the best, because this is the number one basketball tournament in the country."
Six local teams were able to take part in the annual Stellar Catch A Rising Star Tournament, which began on Thursday and concluded on Sunday. The weekend consists of many of the local teams in the Lehigh Valley Conference, Colonial League, and Mountain Valley Conference, but also features teams from outside the Lehigh Valley, and Pennsylvania. This year, Glens Falls from New York, the alma mater of NBA player Jimmer Fredette, and Faith Christian from Orlando Florida highlighted the out-of-town teams.
Northern Lehigh made the biggest impact of the six locals, playing five games during the weekend. On opening night, the Bulldogs defeated Brandywine 49-34, and Matt Egan was the game's high scorer with 15 points. On Saturday, Northern Lehigh opened the morning with a 32-23 win over Faith Christian of Sellersville, with Egan again high scorer with 11. Later in the day, the Bulldogs suffered their first loss with a 50-43 setback to Allentown Central Catholic, who had advanced to the tournament's final four.
Northern Lehigh bounced back on Sunday morning, taking down Dieruff. But the Bulldogs would eventually be eliminated by Liberty with their next game.
Lehighton and Palmerton also made good showings, each winning a game and playing three total.
The Indians were victorious in their first game against Freedom's B team by a score of 37-22, Jimmy Farano and Anthony Rossino tallied 10 points each. Lehighton's tournament run ended in disappointing fashion, with two straight losses by a combined four points.
First on Saturday, the Indians took Liberty to overtime, and had a chance of winning the game, but fell 38-35. Later in the day, defending MVC champ Pocono Mountain West barely edged Lehighton 49-48.
Palmerton played on opening night and lost to Faith Christian Academy of Sellersville 42-38, but bounced back the next night with a 46-33 victory over Brandywine, and Nick Frey being the high scorer with 21 points. The Blue Bombers tournament ended on Saturday with a loss to Catasauqua.
The three other local teams lost their only two games, but took valuable playing experience away from the double-elimination tournament. Northwestern, Pleasant Valley, and Jim Thorpe were able to get some reps for the older players, and have the younger guys see some varsity action.
Pleasant Valley was matched in a tough bracket, falling to Glen Mills on Friday night, and then Glens Falls on Saturday. Jim Thorpe was defeated by Allen's B team on Thursday night, and Washington (NJ) on Friday night. Northwestern lost to Quakertown on Friday night, and Lincoln Leadership on Saturday morning.
"It was tough this year," said Tigers head coach Dan Eddinger. "Last night (Friday) we lost some guys to legion baseball, so they didn't get to experience this. I think we learned some good lessons. We learned a little bit about teamwork, and how much we have to do to be successful as individuals and as a team come the winner. As long as we can take that out of this I'll be happy."
These teams will have good experience from this tournament that they can use to work towards their goals this winter.