For Northwestern, it was a simple scenario.
What wasn't simple, though, was stopping Catasauqua's inside game.
Faced with a win-and-make districts, lose-and-go home situation, the Tigers rode emotion and perimeter shooting for as long as they could before eventually falling to the Roughies' post play.
Despite bolting to a 16-point first half lead, host Northwestern couldn't maintain the advantage and lost a 61-54 Colonial League decision.
"I'm disappointed for the 10 seniors we have," said Tiger head coach BJ Dugan, whose team ended the year 10-12 overall and 7-9 in the league. "We wanted them to taste the playoffs. You could say this was a playoff game but in their hearts they know that we just didn't win the game that was necessary to get us there.
"There were two different styles out there. We came out and we're running the floor and making shots, moving up and down the floor and that's exactly what we wanted to do. When the game became a beat you up in the post, and beat you to the rim strong we're not big enough and physical enough to handle their size and strength. They used that advantage to their benefit."
Kevin Oxley, who hit for 11 points in the first quarter and finished with a game-high 24, hit a three-pointer and a jumper late in the third quarter to help Northwestern take a 46-41 lead into the fourth frame.
Catty, who head coach Eric Snyder admits isn't a jump-shooting team, turned to the paint over the final eight minutes.
The Roughies (12-10; 9-7) quickly moved ahead on two buckets and a pair of free throws from Josh Case. Teammate Tom Armellino added a putback and a drive to complete a 10-0 run that allowed the visitors to seize the momentum.
"We were down heading into the fourth but we went to the hole and kept trying to pound it in to Case on the low block," said Snyder. "If we're firing jumpers, we're going to struggle. We got good looks in that fourth quarter and we were also getting to the foul line.
"Oxley is unreal. Thank goodness he's graduating. Some of his shots come from 25 feet out. Armellino and (Steve) Yost really made him work to get open. The shots he did make he had to work hard for. Good shooters will make some of them. He expended so much energy trying to get open."
The Tigers' leading scorer hit a jumper to pull his team within 51-48 with three minutes to play but Catty gained three more baskets in the paint and hit free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
"It wasn't about that 10-0 run, it's about stopping them on the defensive end and beating them at what they want to do," said Dugan. "I don't know if we got fatigued and tired from exerting all that energy from going up and down, but the game got into a slower style at the end of each half.
"It meant a lot this year to it meant a lot this year to have 10 seniors committed to our program, going through the battles not just in the winter but all summer long. That's a memory, as a coach, you're proud of and hopefully they'll walk away with memories that they'll treasure from their experience from being in the program."
Besides Oxley, Sean Nagle tallied 10 points and Trevor German chipped in with seven. Case led the Roughies with 20 points with Yost contributing 13.
Catasauqua also won the JV contest, 53-44.
Reichl 3-1-1-7, Snyder 1-1-2-3, Yost 5-3-5-13, Armellino 4-2-2-10, Falko 3-0-0-6, Case 5-9-12-20, J. Thieme 1-0-0-2, Gallagher 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 22-16-22-61.
Lerner 2-0-1-4, Nagle 3-1-2-10, Rivera 0-0-0-0, Koenig 2-1-1-5, Oxley 8-3-4-24, German 3-1-2-7, Betz 1-2-2-4. TOTALS: 19-8-12-54.
Catasauqua 7 20 14 20 - 61
Northwestern 20 8 18 8 - 54
Three-pointers: Catasauqua - Case 1; Northwestern - Oxley 5, Nagle 3.