FLEETWOOD –It might not be one of the coveted crowns the Lady Bulldogs seek this season, but a tip-off tournament title is a good start for a team with high expectations.
Coming off last year's undefeated regular season in which Northern Lehigh failed to win a postseason title, the team opened the 2010-11 season with a win in Fleetwood's Lady Tiger Tip-Off Classic.
After a 45-point win in Friday night's opener, the Bulldogs held off the hosts for a 41-34 win on Saturday to earn the tournament title.
"We're off to a good start," said Northern Lehigh head coach Dave Oertner. "[Friday] night we played really well. [Saturday] we didn't play as well."
In Friday's game, the Bulldogs opened a 14-1 lead after the first quarter against Reading Holy Name. Saturday, they allowed Fleetwood to hang around for while then built a lead in the middle periods.
Four first-quarter turnovers led to just a 10-6 lead after one period. Northern Lehigh started the second period with a 5-2 run and ended it with a 6-2 burst for a 25-14 lead at halftime.
Fleetwood didn't have an answer for the Bulldogs' big front line of Aimee Oertner (6-foot-2), Sonya Josephson (6-0) and Lauren Oertner (5-11).
"They out-sized us up and down the line up," said Fleetwood head coach Matt Kellet, whose tallest player is 5-9. "They're a really good team. They're smart. They take care of the ball and they work to their strengths. You can tell there is a core group there that has been playing together."
Aimee Oertner, who was named tournament most valuable player, scored nine of her game-high 15 points in the first half. Josephson had nine of her 14 and Lauren Oertner had four of her six points before intermission.
The Bulldogs played their best defense in the third quarter, when Aimee Oertner pulled down six of her game-high 16 rebounds. They held the Tigers to two field goals on 11 shots in the third period and led by 16 points heading into the final stanza.
Early in the fourth, Fleetwood trailed by 17 points before a late 10-0 run kept the final score close.
Josephson and Lauren Oertner were named to the All Tournament Team.
"We passed the ball really well," said Josephson. "We spread the ball around. We worked our offense."
While the Lady Bulldogs went undefeated during last year's regular season, losses in leagues, districts and states left them without a title. This season, with the three front-court players and point guard Christina Bastardi returning from last year's team, Northern Lehigh was selected by the Harrisburg Patriot News as the No. 5 team in the state Class AA rankings.
"There is going to be a lot of pressure on us," said Aimee Oertner. "We're the team to beat. We're going to prepare our best. And that's what we have to do – prepare. We're not going to look ahead to the future. We're going to take one game at a time.
"Last year I think we really weren't expecting to go 22-0. We're not expecting it this year."
Bastardi 0-0-0-0, L. Oertner 3-0-0-6, Josephson 5-4-5-14, A. Oertner 6-3-6-15, Seiler 1-3-4-6. TOTALS: 15-10-15-41
Kinek 4-3-4-12, Sanders 0-0-0-0, McGarry 2-0-2-4, Noll 1-0-0-2, Lister 3-0-0-6, Bamberger 5-0-1-10, Otruba 0-0-0-0, Tanis 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 15-3-7-34.
No. Lehigh 10 15 9 7 – 41
Fleetwood 6 8 4 14 – 34
Three-pointers – NL: Seiler 1; F: Kinek 1.