CENTER VALLEY Aimee Oertner is used to being in foul trouble.
And on Wednesday night in the District 11 Class AAA semifinals, that turned out to be a good thing for the Northern Lehigh girls basketball team.
Picking up her third foul late in the first quarter, most fans at Southern Lehigh anticipated the Bulldogs' leading scorer would see plenty of time on the bench.
Instead of being pulled, though, the 6-2 sophomore not only stayed on the floor but never left it.
Oertner managed only one point in that first half, playing understandably a bit cautious, but in the second she put away the conservative approach. Despite the fouls, she became a force at the offensive end and scored 12 of her team's 21 points to help Nolehi grind out a 31-26 victory over Wilson.
"I've played with fouls before and he (Coach Dave Oertner) has always been on me about it," said Aimee. "I'm kind of used to it. I had to lay back a little and not be so aggressive. When I did that, the other girls stepped it up.
"Early in the game I wasn't going strong with my shot and at halftime the girls were behind me telling me to go strong in the second half."
That second half started with the Warriors holding an 11-10 lead, thanks in part to the Bulldogs' poor 2-of-25 effort from the floor.
But Oertner came to life by scoring all eight of her team's points in the third frame. All three of her baskets came in the paint, one of them off an offensive rebound and another on a left-handed hook, as the No. 3 seeded team pulled ahead by an 18-16 margin.
"She's a real good player," said Wilson mentor Dennis Fry. "She handles the ball well. She throws it to a guard and then posts up and we didn't defend it like we did two weeks ago (when the Warriors handed Northern Lehigh its only loss during the Colonial League playoffs)."
Oertner added an inside bucket midway through the final period and hit a pair of free throws with 1:04 left to play to up the margin to 28-21. She finished the contest with team high in points (13) and rebounds (12).
"She does that all the time," said Coach Oertner about Aimee getting into foul trouble. "It's scary for me. I don't take her out. I figure I'm going to just use her as long as I can.
"Unfortunately then she's limited on defense. The other girls really sucked it up and did a nice job. We got blocked shots from Sonya (Josephson) and Lauren (Oertner) and we did a pretty good job of preventing the penetration."
What Northern Lehigh couldn't stop was the Warriors' Sondrine Glovas.
The league's MVP single-handidly kept her team in the game, scoring in every quarter and ending with a game-high 19 points. Her two three-pointers in the fourth quarter allowed the Warriors (17-9) to hang around until the Bulldogs sealed the outcome at the foul line.
"She's a great player," said Coach Oertner. "At the end they kept going to her and going to her. That's their offense and that's what they do.
"They also pressure you. Once we got into the flow of the game we did a nice job of handling the pressure. Last time against them we threw the ball away. This time we got the ball upcourt, didn't take quick jumpshots, and worked it inside. We pounded it down low and eventually they started to go in the basket. We just couldn't make anything in the first half."
Josephson contributed to the win with 11 points, including nine of her team's 10 in the first half. Lauren Oertner chipped in with five points and eight boards while Maggie LeVan added six rebounds.
The Bulldogs (24-1), who earned a state playoff berth with the win, will now face Central Catholic in the AAA championship game. That contest is scheduled for Saturday afternoon at 2:30 at Easton Middle School.
LeVan 0-0-0-0, Bastardi 0-2-3-2, L. Oertner 1-3-4-5, Josephson 3-5-7-11, A. Oertner 4-5-8-13. TOTALS: 8-15-22-31.
Muschlitz 0-0-0-0, Swiatek 0-2-2-2, Spirko 1-0-0-2, So. Glovas 7-2-4-19, Touhey 0-0-1-0, Stocks 1-0-2-3, Sh. Glovas 0-0-0-0, Speigle 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 9-4-9-26.
No. Lehigh 5 5 8 13 - 31
Wilson 4 7 5 10 - 26
Three-pointers: Northern Lehigh - None; Wilson - S. Glovas 3, Stocks 1.