New coach, same strong cast play­ing for Bec­ahi

Se­nior Justin Paz in sixth place on school’s all-time scor­ing list.

The Morning Call (Sunday) - - SPORTS - By Keith Groller

PLAY­ERS TO WATCH

Beth­le­hem Catholic was the last team stand­ing in lo­cal foot­ball again this fall. The Golden Hawks sea­son didn’t end un­til Fri­day night’s loss to Imhotep Char­ter in the PIAA 4A semi­fi­nals.

It has be­come a fa­mil­iar story for Bec­ahi since the foot­ball pro­gram has lost three years in a row to Imhotep in the state’s fi­nal four and the bas­ket­ball team also had one of the best sea­sons in school his­tory end at the hands of the Pan­thers last March in the 4A hoops semis.

The Golden Hawks went 28-4 last year, ty­ing for the best record in school his­tory and win­ning the pro­gram’s first league cham­pi­onship since 2003 in ad­di­tion to a sec­ond straight district crown.

Sev­eral sig­nif­i­cant pieces are gone from last year’s cham­pi­onship.

Morn­ing Call player of the year Ryan Young is gone as sev­eral other key se­niors on last year’s team.

But the most ob­vi­ous ab­sence is at the top where Ray Bar­bosa left af­ter three sea­sons as head coach to be­come the first coach at Ex­ec­u­tive Ed­u­ca­tion Academy Char­ter School and for­mer Muh­len­berg Col­lege coach Scott McClary was hired.

McClary spent last year as an as­sis­tant coach on East­ern Pennsylvania Con­fer­ence run­ner-up and District 11 5A champ Cen­tral Catholic.

“Be­gin­nings are fun; be­gin­nings are ex­cit­ing,” McClary said. “In ev­ery gym, there’s a lot of en­thu­si­asm and we’re no dif­fer­ent be­cause this pro­gram is com­ing off a great year, a his­toric year. The guys who were a part of that, they want to keep build­ing, keep go­ing.

“For me, I am so grate­ful to coach [Den­nis] Csen­sits and the Cen­tral Catholic com­mu­nity. I had a won­der­ful year last year and so did my son as a fresh­man. But this was a great op­por­tu­nity for both of us.”

McClary’s son, Caden, is a 6-foot-4 sopho­more and one of a num­ber of younger play­ers who ap­pear poised to keep Bec­ahi strong in the com­ing years.

But for se­niors Justin Paz and Kyle Young, it’s all about now.

Paz en­ters the sea­son with 1,293 points and in sixth place on the school’s all-time scor­ing list. Paz has a great chance of top­ping the 1,485 reg­is­tered by Bob Bukvics from 1956-60 and be­com­ing the top scorer in school his­tory.

Paz and Young would like some­thing even more and that’s get­ting that one more win that would have them end their Bec­ahi ca­reers in Her­shey.

If the Golden Hawks are go­ing to have a shot at play­ing deep into March, Paz and Young will need help from the San­tana twins, Ryan and Bryan, and Ju­lian Thomas among oth­ers.

Three things to know

1. McClary’s coach­ing staff fea­tures for­mer Muh­len­berg grads Dar­rell Roth and Nigel Long as well as An­thony Selby, Chris Lynch and Adam Beers.

2. Bec­ahi’s schedule opens with a trip to Bal­ti­more with a game against a mem­ber of the Bal­ti­more Catholic League, power John Car­roll High School and the plan is to do that ev­ery year, tap­ping into McClary’s ties in that area. There are sev­eral other at­trac­tive non­league dates in­clud­ing Arch­bishop Wood of the Philly Catholic League and an ap­pear­ance in the Le­high Val­ley Hoop Group event against St. John’s of Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

3. McClary said the prac­tices have fea­tured high en­ergy. “My ob­ser­va­tion is that the guys are do­ing their best to be coach­able, bring en­ergy and feed off the en­ergy of the coach­ing staff. We’ve got a great group of young coaches who bring a lot of en­ergy. If you don’t bring it, you’re go­ing to be on an is­land. Now we’re go­ing to have to trans­late that men­tal­ity to games.”

Fi­nal thoughts

Bec­ahi was caught in a bind when Bar­bosa left, but the pro­gram fell into good hands with the hir­ing of McClary, who brings a vast amount of coach­ing ex­pe­ri­ence at a va­ri­ety of lev­els and has col­lege con­nec­tions which are so im­por­tant to par­ents. Ex­pect another good sea­son on Madison Ave.

It was a re­peat

[email protected] Twit­ter @Kei­thGroller 610-820-6740

MORN­ING CALL FILE PHOTO

First-year Beth­le­hem Catholic coach Scott McClary pre­vi­ously was the head coach at Muh­len­berg Col­lege.

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