Alicia Kimmel responded to the defensive challenge, but it was her offense that put Pine Grove over the top.

The junior forward netted eight of her game-high 18 points in overtime and added 11 rebounds to lift the Lady Cardinals to a 62-56 victory over host Tamaqua Thursday night in a Schuylkill League Division I showdown.

In handing the Lady Raiders (10-1) their first setback of the season, Pine Grove (11-1), which clinched a District 11 playoff berth, tightened the D-1 standings. The Cardinals (5-1) are one-half game in front of Tamaqua (4-1) and Blue Mountain (4-1).

There was a playoff-like atmosphere at the Tamaqua Area Athletic Center between the two teams, who are expected to contend for the D-11 Class AA title, won by the Raiders last season. A rematch is scheduled for Feb. 8 at Pine Grove.

Kimmel drew the daunting task of guarding Amy Zehner, the Raiders' 5-11 All-State junior, who averages19.2 points per game.

Zehner finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds but fouled out with 1:17 left in overtime, when Kimmel converted a key three-point play to give the Cardinals a 58-54 lead.

"Alicia worked hard over the summer to get stronger and better," said Pine Grove coach Pam Ryan. "I questioned her about playing Zehner, and she said she was ready. She did an awesome job."

While the Ryans, Corrine and Kaylin, hit for 13 and 11 points, respectively, it was the physical play in the paint by Kimmel, Kelly Fidler (10 points, 15 rebounds) and Kalene Anderson (8 points, 12 caroms) that paid off.

Both teams had 22 field goals, but Pine Grove was 17 of 30 from the charity stripe compared to 9 for 17 for the Raiders.

"We didn't shoot well at times, but give Pine Grove credit for that," said Tamaqua coach Joe Berezwick. "They really collapsed on us and kept us 12 feet and out from the basket."

The Raiders' chances got strong support from Allison Updike, who produced 16 points and 14 rebounds, and Cassie Eroh, who rimmed 11 points.

The Cardinals led 37-32 to start the fourth quarter, but the Raiders went on a 10-3 run, taking a 42-40 lead on a three-point play by guard Kayla Hope with 3:36 left in regulation.

The score was tied at 42, 44 and 46. Eroh hit a pair of free throws at the 42.2 second mark after an Updike offensive rebound, but Fidler's putback at 28.3 seconds knotted it again. A three-point shot by the Raiders' Elissa Streisel at the buzzer rimmed out

Fidler opened the OT with a three-point play for a 51-48 Cardinal lead. Eroh hit for a hoop and two free-throws to put the Raiders up 52-51.

Kimmel and Updike traded buckets, and Anderson's inside deuce had the Cards on top 55-54. Kimmel then put on a pump-fake that drew Zehner's fifth foul and a crucial three points for a four-point edge.

Streisel scored off a drive and was fouled, but missed the foul shot, and the Raiders didn't score again. Pine Grove sank 3-for-6 from the stripe to close it out.

Tamaqua's JVs improved to 10-1 with a 47-46 win. Christine Streisel (16 points), Maria Streisel (15 points), Amanda Solt (11 points, 15 rebounds) and Caitlin Trainer (12 rebounds) had big games for the Raiders.

PINE GROVE

C. Ryan 4-5-9-13, Dimon 0-0-0-0, Kimmel 6-6-9-18, K. Ryan 3-4-5-11, Copeland 2-0-0-4, Anderson 3-0-2-6, Fidler 4-2-5-10. TOTALS: 22-17-30-62.

TAMAQUA

Hope 3-1-1-7, C. Streisel 0-0-0-0, Berezwick 0-0-0-0, E. Streisel 3-0-3-7, Eroh 3-5-6-11, Zehner 6-1-2-15, Updike 7-2-2-16. TOTALS: 22-9-17-56.

Pine Grove 10 12 15 11 14 - 62

Tamaqua 12 7 13 16 8 - 56

Three-point goals: PG-K. Ryan 1; T-Zehner 2, E. Streisel 1.