Historical past was made within the District 11 match Saturday afternoon at Catasauqua.

Bethlehem Christian, in its first 12 months as a PIAA program, gained its first D11 playoff sport.

With a 61-53 victory over Susquehanna Group from District 2, the Panthers bought a victory of their first postseason contest, a Class 1A subregional sport, and it was a proud second for the Bethlehem Township college situated on Inexperienced Pond Highway. It’s a faculty that has been round for about 40 years in varied places, however has now discovered a house and is creating an athletic program.

“It’s an ideal feeling as a result of these guys have been working laborious because the offseason, even way back to final 12 months, and now their laborious work is paying off,” Bethlehem Christian coach Matt DeJesus mentioned. “That is our first 12 months in PIAA. We compete within the ACCAC [Athletic Christian Conference] and we’ve executed effectively in center college and highschool and that is the second 12 months of our boys basketball program.”

The varsity additionally had a women basketball program for the primary time, however gained’t play a PIAA schedule till subsequent 12 months.

To prepare for his or her first PIAA season, the boys workforce performed within the Lehigh Valley Boys Varsity Basketball Summer time League run by Glen Klein and John Hrebik. They performed twice per week indoors on the Whitehall Faculty District advanced all summer season matching up largely with Colonial League members.

“It was an ideal summer season league and it confirmed to the boys they might grasp at this stage,” DeJesus mentioned. “And we’d go to workforce camps and grasp with some PIAA groups they by no means performed earlier than. They have been prepared. I believed they have been prepared. Brian Algeo, our athletic director, agreed. It has been an ideal 12 months for us. To earn the third seed in districts was actually wonderful nevertheless it’s actually concerning the laborious work they put in.”

DeJesus mentioned many of the gamers are from the Bethlehem-Easton-Nazareth space and a few are from New Jersey as effectively.

DeJesus got here from New Jersey however has lived within the Lehigh Valley for over 10 years. He has coached AAU ball with the Lehigh Valley Fever & Drive AAU program headed by Dean Reiman, the previous Freedom women coach.

“I ended as soon as I took this job as a result of it’s a full-time dedication however I’ve been teaching for 18 years now and began with my youthful brother when he was 5 and I took all of it the way in which up,” DeJesus mentioned. “I like each second of it to have the ability to pour again to those youngsters in the identical manner some nice coaches have given to me. It’s a blessing to be right here and I’ve to thank Brian and BCS for giving me this chance.”

Bethlehem Christian’s Roman Rex seems to be to attain towards Susquehanna Group’s Tyler Rockwell on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023, throughout a District 11 Class A quarterfinal basketball sport at Catasauqua Excessive Faculty. (April Gamiz/The Morning Name)

Algeo mentioned he has been on the job for 2½ years after beginning with cross nation.

“We noticed among the gifted youngsters developing by means of the youthful grades and we determined to take a leap and construct a aggressive program,” Algeo mentioned. “We didn’t simply wish to be there. We noticed a possibility and we provide varsity soccer for boys, varsity volleyball for ladies, and ross nation for each genders. Subsequent 12 months we’ll be a full PIAA member.”

As for getting that first district win, Algeo mentioned: “When individuals say there aren’t any phrases to explain an enormous second, I’m dwelling in that second proper now. I’m so pleased with these guys. They’ve labored their tails off and coach Matt loves these boys. He sacrifices money and time simply to be round them. He pours into them. It’s not about simply what occurs on the basketball court docket for Bethlehem Christian. It’s about creating younger boys into younger males. Coach Matt and his assistants do an exceptional job.”

Bethlehem Christian head coach Matthew De Jesus talks to his team against Susquehanna Community Saturday during a District 11 Class A quarterfinal basketball game at Catasauqua High School. (April Gamiz/The Morning Call)
Bethlehem Christian head coach Matthew De Jesus talks to his workforce towards Susquehanna Group Saturday throughout a District 11 Class A quarterfinal basketball sport at Catasauqua Excessive Faculty. (April Gamiz/The Morning Name)

Bethlehem Christian, now 13-9, will play within the District 11-2 subregional semifinals Wednesday evening towards No. 2 seed Forest Metropolis at Forest Metropolis.

The deeper they go, the extra the younger gamers in this system will acquire expertise.

DeJesus mentioned he knew the sport towards Susquehanna, situated close to the New York/Pennsylvania border, wouldn’t be simple.

“We performed them at a workforce camp [at Elizabethtown] and we knew it was going to be a superb sport towards a workforce with an ideal coach and large and bodily gamers,” DeJesus mentioned. “We lack peak they usually have a few of that they usually introduced it. I’m simply completely satisfied our guys competed for 4 quarters.”

Bethlehem Christian bought 17 factors from freshman Myles Harris, together with an enormous 3-poiinter within the fourth quarter when Susquehanna Township trimmed a 15-point deficit to 58-53 within the closing minute.

Elijah Arzuago added 12 factors and Amari Williams chipped in 10.

Arzuago, the workforce’s solely senior, was completely satisfied to be part of this system’s first district win earlier than he heads to varsity, probably the College of Valley Forge. He was a part of the workforce for just one 12 months after transferring from New Life Christian in North Carolina, however nonetheless savored the accomplishment.

“This wins means rather a lot as a result of we’re all brothers right here,” Arzuago mentioned. “I needed to be a pacesetter for these guys. All of us play collectively as one. There’s no me, simply we. We work laborious and play effectively collectively. It’s an enormous second for us.”

Susquehanna Group 13 – 12 – 11 – 17 — 53

Bethlehem Christian 12 – 17 – 17 – 15 — 61


Pyane 1 1-2 4, Rockwell 1 2-2 5, Burke 5 2-2 16, Stone 9 6-10 24, Callendar 1 0-0 2, Downton 1 0-0 2. Totals 18 11-16 53.


Arzuega 5 1-2 12, Martin 2 0-0 4, Lengthy 2 2-2 6, Williams 4 2-4 10, Roman 1 0-2 3, G. Transue 2 5-9 9, Harris 5 1-2 17. Totals 21 11-21 61.

3-pointers: Susquehanna (6) Burke 4, Rockwell, Payne. Bethlehem Christian (5) Harris 3, Roman, Arzuago.

Officers: Jonathan Mack, Andy Donatelli, Johnny Hymans.

Morning Name senior sports activities journalist Keith Groller might be reached at kgroller@mcall.com and comply with him on Twitter at @GrollerKeith

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