It was a no-brainer for Northern Lehigh coach Dave Oertner.

With his top two players in serious foul trouble early in the game, Oertner never thought about pulling them out of the game.

Instead of changing players, Oertner simply changed defenses.

Both decisions worked to perfection.

Led by foul-plagued Aimee Oertner and Sonya Josephson, Northern Lehigh defeated Palmerton, 44-31, in the championship game of the Lady Indian Holiday Classic on Tuesday.

Aimee Oertner picked up her third foul with 6:54 still left in the second quarter. Just a little over a minute later, Josephson was called for her third foul.

"We were in serious foul trouble all night," said Dave Oertner. "Not only did Aimee and Sonya both get three quick fouls, but they also had to play a lot of minutes with four fouls.

"I really never thought about taking either one out. I figured I would just keep them in and not worry about what to do unless they fouled out."

Oertner and Josephson rewarded their coach's confidence by playing every minute and leading the Bulldogs with 14 and 13 points respectively.

"Dave does a great job of coaching," said Palmerton coach Don Delich. "Part of our game plan was to go inside early and try to get them in foul trouble and that's exactly what we were able to do.

"But Dave switched to a zone defense and they did a goode job of packing it in and keeping the ball out of Kelsey's (Hay) hands. We tried to attack them, but their big girls did a nice job of staying active and not fouling out."

Josephson played 9:40 with four fouls while Aimee Oertner went the final 3:21 with four fouls.

"We were brain dead on defense early in the game," said Dave Oertner. "We made a lot of stupid fouls and took a lot of bad shots.

"But I was happy with how we responded to the situation. I thought we played smart but still played hard after we got in foul trouble. Aimee and Sonya have both been in that situation before and knew how to handle it."

Trailing by as many as five points early, Palmerton took its only lead of the night on a Casey Rinfret basket with 6:18 left in the third quarter.

But from that point on, the Bombers shot just 3-for-23 from the field.

"Northern Lehigh did a nice job of keeping us from getting all the way to the basket, but I still thought we got some really good looks," said Delich. "We just couldn't get anything to fall."

The Bulldogs (8-0) took advantage of that to gradually pull away.

After Kristen Romano opened the fourth quarter with a three-pointer to pull the Bombers to within 34-31, Northern Lehigh didn't allow another point the rest of the game.

Meanwhile, Oertner and Josephson scored for the Bulldogs to make it 38-31 with just over two minutes remaining. In the final minute, Tina Bastardi hit from in close and Kristi Seiler dropped in a pair of layups.

"Considering the foul trouble, I thought we played a pretty good game," said Oertner. "I also thought Palmerton played well. It was a good game."

Hay had 13 points to lead the Bombers (5-2), but just two of them came in the second half.

PALMERTON

Smith 0-0-0-0, Reimer 2-0-0-4, Romano 2-0-0-5, Mummey 0-0-0-0, Rinfret 3-0-0-6, Farquhar 1-0-0-2, Snyder 0-1-2-1, Hay 6-0-6-13. TOTALS: 14-1-8-31.

NORTHERN LEHIGH

Bastardi 4-1-2-9, L. Oertner 2-0-0-4, Josephson 6-1-2-13, A. Oertner 6-2-4-14, Seiler 2-0-0-4. TOTALS: 20-4-8-44.

Palmerton 9 10 9 3 - 31

No. Lehigh 9 11 14 10 - 44

Three-pointers: P – Romano 1, Hay 1.