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CHS, NHS hope to continue rivalry this winter season

In recent years, the Catasauqua-Northampton boys’ basketball clash was normally held close to Thanksgiving to keep their football rivalry fresh, or around Christmas as a moniker of a special game between the neighboring towns.

Like football, the basketball battle has a long and rich history, as both teams were once in the same league. Both teams had dominating stretches over the other.

Due to the pandemic and the resulting new schedule, the game is not yet on either team’s current schedule for this season.

“Back in the old days, we would play each other twice, and there were a lot of times when both teams split the season series,” said Rough Riders’ head coach Eric Snyder, who was a participant in the rivalry.

“There were times when we had dominated them, and they dominated us. There also have been some memorable games along the way.”

One such one was a recent encounter that fell on a January 13 Saturday afternoon during the 2017-18 season.

The game was highlighted as a senior shootout between Catasauqua’s Isaiah Graves and Northampton’s Aidan Elwood, both among the area’s elite players.

Both teams also were on their way to banner seasons.

Graves and Elwood didn’t disappoint the onlookers at Catasauqua’s gym that afternoon and neither did their teammates. The Kids finally prevailed in a 75-64 victory in which Graves had 31 points and Elwood had 35.

Cory Weisenberger added 18 and Zac Gula chipped in with 13 for the Kids. Cullen Bond and Robert Oppedisano each had nine for the Roughies.

“Graves and Ellwood were spectacular,” recalled Konkrete Kids’ head coach Coy Stampone. “Eric Snyder and I had the best seats in the house. I looked down at his bench a couple of times, and we both smiled at each other. It was the best game between us since I have been here. It was unbelievable.

“Those two outstanding players traded basket for basket. Both teams had great years.”

Elwood, who ended his career with 1,488 points, recounted it as an ambitious afternoon.

“I just remember it being a crazy atmosphere for a Saturday afternoon game,” he said. “We went in overtime the night before against Stroudsburg, and we were a little gassed.

“I remember it being a shootout, and they weren’t going away no matter what happened. We ended up pulling it out in the end, but it wasn’t an easy win. Isaiah and I were matching baskets all game. We just got enough stops down the stretch to pull it out.”

Catasauqua went on to a 15-10 season, their season ended in a district semifinal loss to Notre Dame. Graves was named the Colonial League MVP, and he finished as the school’s second all-time leading scorer with 1,580 points.

Northampton logged an 18-9 season, and they advanced to their first district final since 1973, dropping a decision to East Stroudsburg South. They lost to St. Joseph’s Prep in a state game. Ironically, neither team has matched their season since.

“It was a game to just sit and watch,” added Snyder. “it is always fun to play them because of the ties between the teams. We both had good seasons the rest of the way.”

The NHS-CHS rivalry may not happen on the hardwood this season.