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Boys drop last two

The Konkrete Kids boys basketball team was riding a 5-game winning streak when Freedom came to town on Saturday for an EPC tilt between the two 2-loss teams. In a game that featured a number of lopsided runs, the Patriots came away with a 74-68 win.

A combination of 6 Northampton turnovers and 13-of-17 shooting by Freedom staked the Patriots to a 29-12 lead with less than nine minutes elapsed in the game.

The K-Kids regained their composure and tightened up on defense, holding Freedom to only a pair of free throws over the last 7:16 of the half to get back into the contest, trailing only 31-26 at the intermission.

Northampton scored the first basket of the second half to cut the lead to three. Freedom built the lead back up to 10 with 2:48 left in the quarter. The Kids managed to whittle the deficit to seven points by the end of the period, 49-42.

The Patriots once again built on their lead, extending it 19 points with 2:27 left in the game. Northampton staged a furious rally, scoring 19 points in the remaining time, but Freedom converted on six free throws during the same interval to hold on.

Head coach Coy Stampone pointed to one factor that contributed to the loss.

“It’s the speed of the game,” he said. “You can’t practice that way. We don’t have chaos and they do. It’s controlled chaos and they were all over the place. With this stretch of Freedom, Dieruff, and Easton, we’ll tell them, ‘This is the speed we have to play at in every single game.’”

In addition to forcing turnovers, the Patriots’ pressure forced the Kids out of their shooting rhythm. Northampton was an uncharacteristic 3-of-16 from behind the arc.

Donte Rodriguez took advantage of the creases created by the scrambling defense to drive to the basket and lead Northampton with 21 points on 8-of-9 shooting from the floor. Isaac Harris scored 17 and Zac Gula chipped in 16. Spencer Cole and Jon Altomare had 6 apiece.

Following their 69-62 OT loss against Dieruff on Tuesday, the K-Kids hold an 7-4 record at the midpoint of the regular season. They’re well-positioned to qualify for districts but making the EPC tournament will require a strong finish to the season. Northampton is currently 4-4 in the EPC. There were four 9-7 teams last year that went into the tiebreaker for the final two playoff spots.

The team’s next game is Friday night at Easton. The Rovers are 8-2 on the season, including wins over the top two ranked 6A teams, Allen and Freedom. Northampton then hosts Lehighton in a nonleague game on Saturday at 1 p.m. On Tuesday night, Pocono Mountain West comes to Schneider Gymnasium. PM East visits on Wednesday. Both teams from the Mountain Division have losing records on the season.