FREEDOM BOYS BEAT PARKLAND IN TOURNAMENT
Patriots beat Parkland 61-55, while Crusaders top Dieruff 76-67
Both Freedom and host Notre Dame got what they wanted from opening night at the Jeff Dailey Memorial Tournament.
First and foremost, they got victories in the 11th annual tipoff event that honors the legacy of one of the greatest players in Crusaders' and Lehigh Valley scholastic basketball history. Dailey died in a fire while a student at East Stroudsburg University in November 2007. He was 23.
Freedom held off Parkland 61-55 and Notre Dame outlasted Dieruff 76-67 to earn berths in Saturday night's championship game.
But both the Patriots and Crusaders have some things to work on after a typical opening night that showed a lot of promise in several areas but also some kinks to be smoothed out.
Parkland and Dieruff also have areas that need improvement and will set about doing that in Saturday's 4 p.m. consolation game.
That will be followed by a very special girls game featuring Notre Dame and Allentown Central Catholic.
Vikettes coach Mike Kopp will be going against his son, Josh, the Crusaders' successful mentor, for the first time. That game is set to begin at 6 with the boys title to follow at about 7:45.
In Freedom's win over Parkland in the opener, junior Caleb Mims put on a show with 25 points, making seven 3-pointers. Six of the treys came in the first half, when Freedom opened a 33-24 lead.
“We were preparing for this
“That’s the style, and it may be ugly at times, but we’ll take it.” — Joe Stellato, Freedom coach
all offseason,” Mims said. “We were so hyped for this game.”
Mims said he felt Freedom, coming off an 8-14 season and losing one of its best players in Jevin Muniz in a much-publicized transfer to Executive Education Academy, was underrated entering the season.
“I know we have a lot of pieces and everyone knows their role,” Mims said. “We’re coming to surprise everybody.”
Freedom had 20 steals including six by Malik Mims, Caleb’s brother.
Mims said the defensive pressure and intensity will be the key all season.
“Defense wins championships,” he said. “We thrive off it.”
Freedom coach Joe Stellato said in the midst of the Muniz controversy that he was focusing on the players who remained on his roster, and with good reason.
The Patriots are quick, tenacious and deep.
They forced 27 Parkland turnovers, 23 through three quarters.
“That’s what we have to do, that’s the way we have to play,” Stellato said. “That’s the style, and it may be ugly at times, but we’ll take it.”
Stellato said the game plan was to pressure Parkland’s guards and not to let the Trojans get into a half-court set.
Parkland was able to do that more frequently in the fourth quarter and whittled a 52-34 deficit after three quarters down to 57-52 with 37 seconds left.
But Freedom was able to make enough free throws to put it away.
“At one point we got away from our game plan and stopped looking to score and I had to call timeout and tell them to do what we do and play the way we play,” Stellato said. “If you see an open shot, take it. It was very important to get off to a good start.”
Malek Mims added 19 for Freedom, but Stellato also praised the play of Isiah Cedano and Reuben Soto for their work inside against the taller Trojans.
“Everybody contributed,” Stellato said. “We used a lot of people because we have guys on the bench who can play. We’re going to shuffle goes in and out and keep everybody happy.”
Notre Dame is also expected to be one of the top teams in the Colonial League, and the Crusaders showed off the main reasons why in their win over Dieruff.
Pat Boyle’s squad is deep, hardworking and unselfish. Notre Dame had 27 field goals and 18 of them featured assists.
Freshman Brendan Boyle led the way with 18 points in his varsity debut and added several assists.
He was hardly a one-man show as Filippo Baldo and Jaden Cunningham added 17 and 13 points respectively and Billy Cornish was a force on the boards with 16 rebounds.
Dieruff started quickly, jumping to a 6-0 lead.
But Notre Dame fought back to tie it at 17 after one quarter and then held the Huskies to seven points in the second quarter in opening a 39-24 halftime lead.
Honor Huff, considered one of the area’s best shooters, was just 5-for-16 from the field through three quarters before getting hot down the stretch. His four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter gave him a game-high 26 points overall and brought Dieruff back to within 69-61 in the final minute.
“We’re pleased, but there’s a lot to work on,” Pat Boyle said after securing his 399th career victory. “Freedom is very quick. We have our work cut out for us in the championship game.”
Freedom's Caleb Mims put on a show with 25 points, making seven 3-pointers.
Freedom's Isiah Cedano drives down the court as Freedom plays Parkland at Notre Dame-Green Pond on Friday night.