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Boys look to make playoff push

For the Northampton boys’ basketball team, the hunt for the district berth is on.

The Konkrete Kids began the week with an overall 8-8 record with six games left to play. Northampton may have found its niche in time, as the Kids have won six of their last eight games after a 2-6 start.

They recently survived a hard-fought battle against Blue Mountain and pulled out a 50-47 victory that brought them to the .500 mark. Brody Groff and Tyler Kauffman hit key free throws down the stretch in the game.

First-year head coach Matt Scholl knew it would take some time with a new cast in place from their state semifinal finish from a year ago, but he hasn’t deviated from one of the program’s main goals every season.

“Our first goal every year is always to qualify for districts and, right now, we are sitting at .500 with eight wins,” said Scholl. “That was our main goal at the beginning of the season.”

Scholl noted the team’s defensive effort has been a major reason for the turnaround. The Kids average 47.8 points per game, but they allow 45.6, one of the stingiest amounts allowed in the East Penn Conference (EPC). Over the years, the Kids have been among the league’s best in team defense.

“Our defense has been consistent throughout the year and has enabled us to stay in games,” added Scholl. “We have been playing with more confidence and, outside of the Allen game, scoring more consistently.”

Scholl has been pleased with the steady play of Kauffman, a senior, and junior Tristan Pinnock, who have paced the offense all season.

Kauffman is averaging 10.9 points per game, and Pinnock is adding 10.7 points per contest.

“Tyler Kauffman is one of the top 3-point shooters in the league and the team is committed to helping him find open looks,” noted Scholl. “Tristen Pinnock has picked up his scoring lately as well and is now our leading scorer. JJ Kolumber is averaging five assists per game. Pinnock is also our leading rebounder at five per game. “

The Kids have a challenging skid over the final two weeks. They have road games against Allentown Central Catholic and Emmaus this week before they close out the regular season with home games against Palmerton, Parkland, and Whitehall, along with a road game at Allen.

On paper, it doesn’t look easy.

“We need three more wins to qualify, but that will be tough,” said Scholl. “We’re playing better, and we have to stay consistent.”