VARDEN — The Canaan Christian Academy's varsity basketball program in once again carving out a spot for itself among the elite small schools in Pennsylvania.
Under the direction of veteran coach John Ashley, the boys are right in the thick of the battle for a NY/ Penn League title.
In addition, Coach Jerry Birmelin's Lady Eagles are currently undefeated and all alone atop the standings.
Barring an unlikely late-season collapse, these teams will be major players in both the NPCA and KCEA tournaments.
"I'm wicked proud of our boys and girls," said Coach Ashley after a recent win over previously unbeaten Freedom Village.
"We've played three very physical games in the past five days and it's definitely taken a toll physically. But, it also shows what kind of a gutsy team we have."
Canaan's varsity squads will be back on the court Tuesday evening. Both teams are set for a road trip to Old Forge and twinbill with Triboro Christian.
Opening tip for the girls game is scheduled for 6 p.m. with the boys to follow at approximately 7 p.m.
Canaan Christian hoops has all the hallmarks of an elite program.
From championship banners and all-star players to invitational tournament titles and recognition at the state level, the Eagles are known throughout NEPA as a powerhouse small school program.
Just this past week, two of its most talented players attained the type of career milestones that make college recruiters sit up and take notice.
Ashlea Swingle and Joe Chupick punched their tickets to the exclusive 1,000 Point Club. Both are seniors and each is leading a team down the path to yet another team title.
Page 2 of 3 - Swingle erupted for 17 points and 16 rebounds in a win over Meadowbrook, leaving her just on basket shy of the magical number.
Ashlea didn't keep CCA fans waiting long, powering her way to two less that a minute into the Lady Eagles very next game. Nursing a sore elbow, Swingle sat out a good portion of this one, which turned in to a 48-12 win over Binghamton.
Nevertheless, she finished up with six points, nine boards and five dimes.
Swingle became the very first Lady Eagle in school history to eclipse the 1,000 point mark, but chances are she won't be the last as several talented youngsters are already rattling rims in the CCA gymnasium.
Meanwhile, Chupick added his name to the list of Eagle basketball immortals during an epic battle with Freedom Village.
This ballgame appeared destined for a photo finish right from the get-go.
The two teams delighted local fans by trading deuces in the early going. As might be expected, Chupick paced the Eagles' assault.
A high-flying senior, Joe scored all 15 of Canaan's first period points, including a step-back trey that gave the home team a 15-13 lead after one.
With Chupick obviously "en fuego," his teammates kept finding ways to stoke the flames. And, midway through the second quarter, Joe burned his name into the CCA history books.
Joe Schweinsburg, who led the Eagles with six assists on this night, found Chupick all alone on the wing. Joe calmly buried the trey and was fouled in the process. So, he stepped to the stripe to finish off a rare 4-point play with a free throw that pushed his career total to exactly 1,000.
"Joe and Ashlea are both very gifted players, Coach Ashley said. "But, more importantly, they're great kids who represent their teams and the school extremely well."
Page 3 of 3 - Over & Out
Thanks in large part to another monster night from Chupick, Canaan held off a scrappy Freedom Village squad to seal the deal on a wild NY/Penn win.
Joe would finish out the game with 26 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks.
The visitors twice closed to within a basket in the waning moments, but each time Canaan was equal to the challenge.
Schweinsburg also played a vital role in this one with heady play at the point. Joe suffered a mild concussion, but should be back in action within a week.
Spencer Beals tickled the twice for 10 points, while Matt Swartley chipped in with four marker and six big boards. Schweinsburg rounded out the scoring with one trey.
Score by Quarters...
CCA (7-1) 15 13 10 6 – 44
FVC (7-1) 13 7 10 12 – 42