Palmerton opened up its boys basketball season with a win over Lehighton for the fourth straight time, while the Lady Blue Bombers celebrated Kelsey Hay's 1,000th point by making it a sweep by downing the Lady Indians in a boys-girls vasity doubleheader at the LAHS gym.
The Bombers and Indians hooked up in a physical contest that saw Palmerton pull away down the stretch for a 55-48 victory.
The win came minus starter and co-captain Ben Andrews, who was injured midway through the second quarter when he was fouled going in for a layup. Andrews was taken to Lehigh Valley Hospital by ambulance with a head injury.
There were a total of 38 fouls called on the night, with Lehighton's Nate Kresge and Vince Mele fouling out early in the fourth quarter and Palmerton's Cody Geist committing his fifth foul in the final minute.
"Your first game of the season typically you don't execute well and you play sloppy at times and we did that tonight," said Palmerton mentor Mick Stefanek, who took over the program this season. "We opened it up a few times and we let Lehighton get back in it, but we were scrappy, we were competitive and I'm just proud of our kids effort.They really gutted it out.
"We lost Ben there in the first half and he's a key part of what we're looking to do this year both offensively and defensively so I'm hoping he's going to be alright. He's in our thoughts and our prayers."
Both teams went back-and-forth in the first half with the biggest lead being four points by Palmerton late in the first half that enabled it to hold on to a 29-26 advantage at halftime.
Lehighton actually led 13-12 at the end of the first quarter as Nate Kresge led the way with five points. Tyler Svetik and Andrews had four apiece for Palmerton.
Svetik continued to take the ball to the hoop in the second quarter adding six more points, while Anthony Rossino had eight of his team high 12 points for the Indians in the period.
Neither team set the nets on fire in the third stanza as Lehighton outscored Palmerton 9-6 to tie the contest up at 35-35 entering the final eight minutes.
The Bombers scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter, but the Indians came back to tie it at 42-42 on a run of their own with 3:49 remaining. But Brett Snyder had seven of his 12 points down the stretch and Matthew Leaver was four-for-four from the free throw line to ice it in the last 25 seconds.
"It was just a physical game, it was a war," Stefanek said. "It was a typical Palmerton-Lehighton battle and we were thankful to come out on top. The kids really rallied around Ben going down. There's no doubt he was in our thoughts the rest of the game."
The Indians played their first game under head coach Rich Oertner and played with an intensity that they haven't had in recent years, but 34 turnovers and some bad fouls hurt.
"Our kids played hard, but I guess they don't quite understand yet, you can't turn the ball over," Oertner said. "It's not like we didn't work on it. A couple of guys fouling out didn't help us any and put us in a situation where we went deep into our bench.
"Hopefully they can learn from it. I don't think they had too much experience being in this position. We had our game plan drawn up and we came out and I had to use three timeouts to get them back into the game plan and we were reckless."
Geist led the Bombers with 15 points, while Svetik and Snyder added 12 each. Rossino had 12 and Jacen Nalesnik 11 for the Indians.
Hay tops 1000
Hay, who needed 12 points to hit the centery mark entering the game, went over the 1,000-point mark early in the second quarter in Palmerton;s 57-33 win in the opener.
The Bombers jumped out to a 8-0 lead right at the start and never looked back, leading 16-7 after one quarter and 39-15 at intermission.
""We were ready to play." said Palmerton head coach Don Delich. "I told the kids before the game started that we worked hard all summer. They were prepared. There wasn't anything that Lehighton could have done that we wouldn't be prepared for."
Hay finished the night with 24 points, while Emily Meinhart added nine and Jade Farquhar eight. Tiffany Thompson led the Indians with seven.
"Jade (Farquhar) is going to be a nice player so it was important that both Jade and Emily got off to a good start tonight," said Delich. "They're both young kids and each night out that they perform well they'll'll get better and better."
Hadinger 0-0-0-0. Rickert 0-1-2-1, Alban 0-0-0-0, Ma. Mummey 0-0-0-0, Farquhar 3-2-2-8, Mo. Mummey 3-1-2-7, Graver 1-0-0-2, Meinhart 3-3-6-9, Krupa 0-0-2-0, Snyder 3-0-0-6, Hay 9-6-9-24. TOTALS: 22-13-23-57.
Blasiak 0-0-0-0, Shelly 1-0-0-2, Green 0-0-0-0, Barclay 2-1-4-5, Magyar 1-1-2-4, Yurasits 2-1-2-5, Evans 2-0-0-6, Durishin 0-0-0-0, Smith 0-0-0-0, Pell 0-1-2-1, Daniels 0-0-0-0, Thompson 4-0-0-8, Rehrig 0-0-0-0, Cordova 1-0-0-2. TOTALS: 13-4-10-33.
Palmerton 16 23 9 9 - 57
Lehighton 7 8 6 12 - 33
Three-pt. FG's: Palmerton - none; Lehighton - Evans 2, Magyar 1.
Horvath 0-0-0-0, Andrews 1-2-2-4, Svetik 5-2-2-12, Snyder 4-2-5-12, Leaver 0-7-11-7, Ruch 0-0-1-0, Leon 1-3-4-5, Geirst 7-1-4-15, Luers 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 18-17-29-55.
A. Rossino 4-4-6-12, Farano 0-0-0-0, Kresge 3-2-2-10, Guyn 2-2-2-6, Crum 0-0-0-0, Thompson 0-0-0-0, J. Knappenberger 3-0-0-6, Nalesnik 4-3-4-11. TOTALS: 17-11-14-48.
Palmerton 12 17 6 20 - 55
Lehighton 13 13 9 13 - 48
Three-pt. FG's: Palmerton - Snyder 2; Lehighton - Kresge 2, J. Knappenberger 1.