Monday, January 19, 2015
Liberty-Becahi Game a Display of Good Sportsmanship
Liberty and Bethlehem Catholic High Schools have always been bitter rivals. I know plenty of great people who have graduated from Liberty. I can even tolerate the mixed marriages that often occur between these two proud high schools, But as a Beca' grad, I officially hate Liberty High School. I have to or else I'll be excommunicated. Today, however, I must risk my immortal soul. I want to compliment both schools for the great sportsmanship displayed by fans and especially the athletes when the Golden Hawks hosted the Hurricanes on Friday night.
It was a night for anyone who lives in Bethlehem to be proud.
Liberty High School's Boys' Basketball is one of the better Lehigh Valley teams this season. Bethlehem Catholic's is not. While Liberty has been winning with ease, Beca has been hampered by the loss of some Juniors who also play football and decided they needed to concentrate on their school work and the weight room instead of playing a winter sport. The team has lost 18' Andrew Hudak, a junior who transferred to Liberty.
On Friday night, the team was also missing its only Senior and team leader, Freddie Simmons. He was on an official visit to a college in central Florida, although his grandfather came to the game to cheer for the Golden Hawks. No one at Beca would suggest that Freddie skip out on such an important trip. But they would miss him. It is not just his 1,000-point scoring, but his encouragement to younger athletes.
So the pieces were in place for an easy Liberty victory. But nobody told Becahi. They were there to play basketball.
Something strange was happening. Beca's Freshman team had beaten Liberty just the day before. Earlier that afternoon, the JV team went to Liberty and won in their finest performance all season. The Girls' team had also won, although that strong team performed as expected.
The first sign of good sportsmanship occurred when Andrew Hudak was introduced as a starter, I expected Becahi fans to boo. Instead, they applauded. Nobody slammed Hudak for leaving Beca.
During the game itself, Beca's vicious zone defense and aggressiveness made up for their smaller size. The Hurricanes were rattled, and at one point, were down by 12. Chance Neilly and DeAndre Tillett set the tone for Beca, and were everywhere. But it was not to be. With just seconds left, Liberty jumped ahead by two and would go on to win in an exciting game in which everyone was playing their best.
My grandson was one of these players. When he came up to the lobby from the locker room after the gamer, he started to well up after the game. He was bitterly disappointed at the loss. So were Neilly and Tillett. Though they had all excelled, they blamed themselves for their team's loss.
That's usually when I head for the hills.
But someone cheered him up. It wasn't me or his mom. It was Cameron Hoffman, a 27' member of Liberty's varsity squad. He came right up to my grandson and hugged him, That cheered him up. Well, that and a girl who wanted to go to McDonald's with him.
It was not the score that mattered, but the thrill of the game. In the hallway, I saw several Liberty athletes seeking out and speaking to Beca's young men
They were very gracious winners.
This is a time when we read of fights during games and coaches who run up scores. It is a time when players taunt each other. So it was refreshing to see such class from both Liberty and Becahi on Friday night. I was proud of both teams.
Now I have to go to Father Alex for confession.