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Freeport duo thrilled to play in Cager Classic after disappointing season

Bill Beckner Jr.
| Wednesday, March 16, 2016, 11:09 p.m.
Freeport's Josh Beale looks to the basket against Knoch's Aiden Albert (3) during their game Friday, Feb. 5, 2016 at Freeport Middle School in Buffalo Twp.
Jason Bridge | Tribune-Review
Freeport's Josh Beale looks to the basket against Knoch's Aiden Albert (3) during their game Friday, Feb. 5, 2016 at Freeport Middle School in Buffalo Twp.
Freeport's Kevin Lynch (left) attempts to block a shot by Mason Eddinger during practice Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015 at Freeport Middle School.
Erica Dietz | Trib Total Media
Freeport's Kevin Lynch (left) attempts to block a shot by Mason Eddinger during practice Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015 at Freeport Middle School.
Freeport's boys basketball coach Mike Beale (backrground, right) wraps up basketball practice at Freeport Middle School on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015.
Erica Dietz | Trib Total Media
Freeport's boys basketball coach Mike Beale (backrground, right) wraps up basketball practice at Freeport Middle School on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015.

Freeport basketball had high hopes this season with some key players back and the opening of a new gymnasium. But things didn't go as scripted, and the Yellowjackets finished 9-13 and missed the WPIAL playoffs.

While all-star games are no substitute for playoff appearances, Freeport can take some solace in the fact two of its top players and its coaches get one more game together: Saturday night's Cager Classic at Highlands.

Seniors Josh Beale and Mason Eddinger will suit up for the West team, which will be coached by Yellowjackets coach Mike Beale and his assistants.

Josh Beale and Eddinger played key roles for the last four seasons. Now they want to do the same at the area's all-star classic.

For Beale, it's one more high-school game with his father. A three-sport athlete, he plans to play baseball at IUP.

“It's an honor and a privilege to play with the best players in the A-K Valley and to be coached by my dad one last time,” said Josh Beale, a 1,000-point scorer who averaged 18 points this season. “I have gone to just about every Cager over the years and always looked forward to having the opportunity to play in it someday.”

Eddinger plans to continue his basketball career at Pitt-Greensburg.

“It means so much to me since I love the game of basketball playing from such a young age,” said Eddinger, who averaged 8.0 points this season. “And getting to play one last high school basketball game with one of my great childhood friends, with having so many memories together, it's definitely something special, and I won't ever forget it.

“Also getting to play with my coach since fifth grade and throughout high school, it's just a moment that I'll cherish forever.”

Mike Beale will make his second appearance as a coach in the Cager. He coached the West in 2007 — the East won that game 111-91 as WPIAL champions Nick Matviko and Steve Predebon of Leechburg combined for 43 points.

“I'm very happy for both Josh and Mason and the opportunity they have to take the floor one last time as high school basketball players,” Mike Beale said. “It's an elite group to be part of and an honor I know they will savor.

“As a father seeing Josh play, I become nostalgic as I remember all the way back to our elementary program. I reflect upon the thousands of hours we spent together and dedication both of these young men have shown to our program. Josh and Mason have been outstanding role models for our younger players and are deserving of this honor.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor for the Valley News Dispatch edition of the Tribune-Review. Reach him at bbeckner@tribweb.com.

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