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Area teams compete in ‘Bash at the Beach’

Published June 25. 2018 02:22PM

ALLENTOWN — Jim Thorpe girls’ basketball coach Rob Kovac may have said it best—“You don’t win championships in the summer necessarily, but you lay groundwork to win championships in the winter.”

Many local area basketball teams play in some kind of league during the summer months in hopes of getting a head start on the winter season. And a number of those squads play in various tournaments as well.

Jim Thorpe was one of five Times News area teams to compete in last week’s Beach at the Bash” at Cedar Beach Park in Allentown that concluded on Sunday night. The Olympians advanced the furthest of any team, going 3-2 and playing late on the tournament’s final day.

“We didn’t really know what to expect,” Kovac said. “We’re starting three freshmen right now, and Friday night one of our returnees got hurt and has been out all weekend, so it really hurts our depth. We have five freshmen on the floor at some points. Fortunately for us, a couple of those kids can really play.”

That trio of freshmen led the Olympians to wins over Parkland’s B team, Boyertown and Pleasant Valley, another Times News area team. Jim Thorpe, after losing to one of the tournament favorites in Nazareth on Saturday, responded with convincing wins against Boyertown and Pleasant Valley on Sunday.

In the Pleasant Valley victory, the Olympians took a 26-11 lead into halftime and eventually downed the Bears by a 45-24 final score. Freshmen Leiala Hurley, Skyler Searfoss and Olivia Smelas paired well with three-year starter senior Natalia Richards over the course of the three-day tournament.

“When we came down here, we wanted to play on Sunday,” Kovac said. “And we’ve won twice so far [on Sunday]…To be able to come down here and beat Pleasant Valley, which is a much bigger school than us, it’s a positive. We can take a lot of positives from this weekend and build on it, and we’ve also seen some things that we need to do better.

“Even yesterday in our loss, we played good basketball for about a half against Nazareth. Unfortunately as the second half wore on, their size just ate us up. Nazareth is just so big.”

Nazareth would go on to win the girls’ championship on Sunday night. Center Tayla Brugler was named tournament MVP.

After a successful run at “Bash at the Beach” the Olympians will return to play in the Tamaqua Summer League where they have yet to lose this summer. A big key to that has been Richards, the lone returning senior starter and unquestioned leader of Jim Thorpe.

“We had a pretty senior-oriented team a year ago, but we kind of knew all along that this group was coming up,” Kovac said. “This group has been really successful. They didn’t lose a game in junior high for two straight years.

“We knew that the cupboard wasn’t going to be bare when the senior class moved on. We’re fortunate that timing-wise they came around at the right time.”

Pleasant Valley had a successful outing as well, going 2-2 at the tournament before falling to the Olympians. The Bears picked up wins against Dieruff ‘s JV team (63-16) and Bangor, while dropping games against Whitehall and Jim Thorpe.

CHAMPIONS CROWNED ... Berks Catholic defeated Emmaus, 54-48, for the boys’ title on Sunday night. Berks Cathoic went 6-0 in the tournament and earned its second straight “Bash at the Beach” championship. Nazareth defeated Notre Dame-Green Pond for the girls’ championship.

THREE BOYS TEAMS COMPETE ... Panther Valley won its opening game against Salisbury (60-57) and added another victory against Roberto Clemente (56-47). Northern Lehigh went 2-2 as well with wins against Quakertown (51-41) and Southern Lehigh (36-28). Palmerton went 0-2 at the tournament.

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