It took a little while for Tamaqua to get into its offensive flow in its season opener with visiting Northwestern.
Defensively, the Lady Raiders had no trouble putting the clamps on the Lady Tigers from the start.
The Raiders limited Northwestern to single digits in the scoring column in all four quarters, pulling away for a 53-18 non-league triumph Saturday afternoon.
Tamaqua, which returns four starters from its Schuylkill League and District 11 AA championship team of a year ago, overwhelmed the Tigers with its full and half court defensive pressure, forcing 30 turnovers and holding them to a 6-for-41 shooting performance from the floor.
Amy Zehner, the Raiders' returning All-State Second Teamer, poured in 24 points, outscoring the Tigers. The Bucknell-bound Zehner also added seven rebounds and seven steals.
Northwestern (0-2), which opened with a loss to Jim Thorpe the previous night, suffered a blow when 5-8 sophomore Sara Jones was banged up in a collision with Zehner battling for a loose ball on the floor at 5:42 of the first quarter and did not return.
"Our kids played devastating defense all over the court, and with Sara Jones going down early with the injury, that probably made it harder going up against that type of pressure," said Tamaqua coach Joe Berezwick. "She's their go-to player, and hopefully, she'll be all right.
"Our pressure was outstanding. If we can put out this kind of defensive effort every night, it will make it that much tougher to play against us."
"We played two Schuylkill teams to start off, and we use these games as a measuring stick," said Northwestern Coach Chris Deutsch. "We're a young team and we start just one senior, and while it wasn't the difference in the game, losing Sara like that didn't help our cause.
"Tamaqua is very good, and a player of Zehner's capability can take over a game. She also sets up her teammates very well. They are also a very good defensive team. They were very aggressive and took us out of our offense."
The Tigers scored first on a Kaleen Suter free throw, but the Raiders scored the next 10 points to surge in front 10-1. Zehner came up with six of those points, while Cassie Eroh and Maria Streisel added hoops.
Samantha MacLaughlin hit the Tigers' first bucket on a baseline jumper at the 2:06 mark, and another Suter foul shot ended the period with the Raiders' lead trimmed to 10-4.
Zehner took over in the second stanza, pumping in four buckets and going 4-for-4 from the charity stripe to pace a 17-6 Raider edge that extended their advantage to 27-10 at half. The Tigers' points came on triples from Suter and Jennifer Gulick.
The Raiders shot 11 for 33 for the first half, but they connected on 8-of-11 shots in the third quarter, outscoring the Tigers 16-5 to put things away at 43-15.
Eroh also hit double figures for the Raiders with 11 points. Suter topped the Tigers with seven points.
Tamaqua was a 38-29 winner in the JV game behind 17 points from Amanda Solt. Cheyenne Shupp led Northwestern with 12 points.
Gulick 1-0-0-3, Landrigan 0-0-0-0, Groller 1-0-0-3, Jones 0-0-0-0, Suter 2-2-4-7, Kemmerer 0-0-0-0, Nemes 0-0-0-0, MacLaughlin 1-0-0-2, Heydlauf 0-0-0-0, Shupp 0-0-0-0, Shoemaker 0-0-2-0, Cunningham 0-1-2-1, Dietrich 0-0-0-0, Everett 1-0-0-2, Albright 0-0-2-0. TOTALS: 6-3-10-18.
Hope 2-1-2-5, Trainer 0-0-0-0, Kabilko 0-0-0-0, M. Streisel 3-0-0-6, Walker 0-0-0-0, C, Streisel 1-0-0-3, Eroh 4-3-4-11, Zehner 10-4-4-24, Wagner 0-0-0-0, Updike 2-0-0-4, Urban 0-0-0-0, Wallace 0-0-0-0, Solt 0-0-0-0, Weinburger 0-0-0-0 TOTALS: 22-8-10-53.
Northwestern 4 6 5 3 - 18
Tamaqua 10 17 16 10 - 53
Three-point goals: T-C. Streisel; NW-Gulick, Groller, Suter.