Fan support appears to be on the rise

If you arrived late at Friday night’s Northern Bedford/Chestnut Ridge boys basketball game, you had to do a little looking to find a good seat in Richard W. Fisher Gymnasium.

For the last few years, that might have been something worth noting. This year, not so much.

There was a large, boisterous crowd the same night for the Bishop Carroll/Penn Cambria boys game, featuring a “Black Out” by the home student section. If you saw the highlights from last week’s Bishop McCort at Richland game, the atmosphere was at least as good.

Even those attending Penn Cambria’s boys game at Cambria Heights on Wednesday might have had to drive around a little more than usual to find a decent parking spot.

After years of dwindling numbers, it looks like attendance for scholastic basketball in the area might be picking up again, at least from the visual evidence. It’s a good thing, too – this writer had been beginning to wonder out loud if maybe we were seeing the highlight of high school sports, if perhaps the club route that is employed overseas might be a better option in this changing economy.

More concerning was that I found some others that were thinking the same thing.

However, having these kinds of fan turnouts for midseason games is very encouraging.

Granted, all the games mentioned above were rivalry games, too, and they did have something on the line. Bedford County fans always seemed to get out and support their local teams and you needed to arrive early for any Tussey/Everett or Tussey/Northern Bedford game, and even then you’d be squeezed in like a bunch of sardines by tipoff – and, as anyone going to a Bedford/Chestnut Ridge dual meet could attest, that has crossed through other sports.

Then again, I’d been to a number of games in the last five years or so that were determining conference and league championships where the players could have thanked the fans individually afterwards, enough rivalry games that attracted just parents and friends, so bigger, more-involved crowds have been easy to notice.

Hopefully, the new trend continues.

A-class Class A

Last week, this column discussed the parity in Class AA basketball in the region, and how the depth in those ranks should make for a very entertaining tournament.

It’s worth noting that, while there might be more upsets and tight games in double-A this season, the top Class A teams aren’t taking a backseat to the larger schools.

Last Friday, the Bishop Carroll boys went to Penn Cambria and won by double-digits. The following evening, Bishop Guilfoyle went to Bellwood-Antis and knocked the Blue Devils from the unbeaten ranks.

Before we turn this into the endless public/private school debate, note that Shade has beaten four Class AA opponents, including 12-2 Chestnut Ridge by 20 and 11-3 Northern Bedford by 17. Ridge’s other loss? It came to the tiny Hyndman charter school. Blacklick Valley, behind Dalton Cesarz, holds a victory over 11-3 Northern Cambria.

Area Class A basketball has been first class. And, like past years, don’t be surprised if a couple of these teams make deep runs in the state playoffs.

Cmor can be reached at 946-7440 or