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NB boys look to continue strong year

The Northern Bedford boys basketball team has shown vast improvement through 16 games this season as the Black Panthers prepare to compete for a District 5 Class 2A championship.

Coach Randy Meck has led his team to a 10-6 mark and a No. 3 seed. Northern Bedford will host sixth-seeded Tussey Mountain Thursday at 7 p.m. in the quarterfinals.

“I think we can beat anybody within the district, but I think we can lose to anyone, too,” Meck said. “We’re one of those teams in contention. I think it’s very even, and you just never know. When we’re on and playing well, we can be pretty good.”

The Black Panthers have already defeated the Titans twice this year.

“When Northern Bedford and Tussey get together, it’s going to be a great game,” Meck said. “It would be really nice if we didn’t have the COVID issue, because we’d have a packed gym with a great atmosphere. We know Tussey is going to come ready to play. The first time they played us, it was a pretty close game. We got the lead late, but they dominated us for most of the game. The second time we played, it was a different story. They had some injuries, and we were able to get a lead on them early. It will be a battle this third time.”

If Northern Bedford wins Thursday, it will play at second-seeded Windber in the semifinals on March 10. The championship game is scheduled for March 13.

“The games we defend, we play very well,” Meck said. “We are starting to take charges, and our pressure has given some teams problems. We have some size that gives teams trouble when we get in their passing lanes when we decide we want to play defense. There have been some games we haven’t decided to play defend, but when we do it really helps our offense.”

Girls on the road

The Northern Bedford girls are also hoping for a shot at Windber, but the Lady Panthers will have to win a quarterfinal game on the road Friday at Conemaugh Township first to get that game.

“We have a lot of younger girls who have been stepping up for us this year,” Northern Bedford girls coach Jon Ewart said. “Honestly, it’s going to be everyone’s first playoff experience all the way up through our seniors on Friday. It’s a goal we had at the start of the season, and we’re glad to have this opportunity to be able to go play Township. I feel like it’s a game we can be pretty competitive in and have a chance of possibly getting one on the road. I’m proud of the work the girls have put in, and hopefully it pays off.”

Northern Bedford is below .500, but even in games it has lost, Ewart has seen improvement.

“We struggled early, especially with some confidence issues,” Ewart said. “We had a long stretch with some really tough opponents, and it was tough for the girls to see the improvements that we were making. There were things coming out of each game. We went on a spurt where we won some games and were playing really well and did a lot better job taking care of the basketball.”

D5 picks

The following are the Mirror’s picks to win each classification in District 5.

Class 3A boys: Chestnut Ridge

Class 2A boys: Conemaugh Township

Class 1A boys: Berlin Brothersvalley

Class 3A girls: Everett

Class 2A girls: Windber

Class 1A girls: Shanksville-Stonycreek

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