Last year, the Jim Thorpe girls' basketball team made a name for itself in the Schuylkill League through the actions of its offense.
Last night, the Olympians gave its defense a turn to speak for itself in the team's league opener at home.
Jim Thorpe's duo of Celeste Robinson and Chelsea Smelas were able to combine for more points than Panther Valley, thanks to a successful outing by its 1-3-1 zone defense, to produce a 52-30 win.
"Right now, everybody's talking about what we do in transition and what we do out of the press," Kovac said. "Yes, certainly that's our bread and butter, but I think tonight we were able to show a solid all-around game, in which we put up guard in the half-court defense a bit.
"Tonight, I think we showed that we're getting much better defensively with what we did in the half-court. We're not that good yet, but we're getting much better."
The defense couldn't get much better than it did in the first quarter. While Robinson and Smelas accounted for all 12 of the Olympians' points, the Panthers simply couldn't buy a bucket on 12 attempts.
It was a hole that the Panthers couldn't dig themselves out of and it continued the rest of the game, especially when Panther Valley coach Josh Wank saw his team down 26-7 at half and 43-16 after three quarters of play.
"They're initial pressure didn't really bother us at first," Wank said. "We were getting across half court, but once we got across we kind of flustered ourselves a bit and we rushed some shots. We just didn't get a chance to finish.
"You can't do that against a team like this. You have to take advantage of every opportunity that you get because they're a very talented team."
The success the defense had just gave Robinson and Smelas every reason to feed off of it. Robinson went on to score a game-high 27 points, while Smelas complemented her efforts with 18.
While the senior duo spearheaded Jim Thorpe's offense, it was the defense Robinson wanted to talk about.
"First off, there's five girls out there," Robinson said. "It takes five people to play defense. Chelsea and I have become a tandem, especially on the offensive end, but now we're all bringing it on the defensive end because we're starting to realize defense drives our offense."
And, it worked last night in keeping the Olympians undefeated on the season (4-0, 1-0 SL).
The Panthers (2-1, 0-1) meanwhile suffered their first loss of the season.
"They came and brought what we expected of them - they were feisty," said Robinson, of Panther Valley, who was led by freshman Abbey Whildin with nine points. "They gave us exactly what we thought they were going to give us. It's something we needed to see and it's something we can learn from for games down the road."
In the JV game, Panther Valley escaped with a 28-27 victory over Jim Thorpe
The Panthers' Bryanna Kehrli led all scorers with 14 points.
The Olympians were paced by a trio, in which Amy Josket, Danielle Becker and Brittany Doughty all finished with seven points.
Whilden 3-2-2-9, Blasko 1-0-0-2, Kehrli 1-1-1-3, Phillips 0-0-0-0, M. Markovich 0-0-0-0, Thomas 0-1-3-1, Paul 0-0-0-0, Rice 1-0-2-2, O. Markovich 1-0-0-2, Cullen 1-0-1-3, Cunfer 2-0-0-4, Zlock 2-0-0-4. TOTALS: 12-4-12-30.
McElmoyle 0-0-1-0, Batts 0-1-2-1, Lawrence 1-1-3-4, Condly 0-0-0-0, Binder 0-0-0-0, Rusbarsky 0-0-0-0, Jaskot 0-0-0-0, Robinson 10-7-13-27, Mosteller 1-0-2-2, Becker 0-0-0-0, Smelas 6-6-8-18. TOTALS: 18-15-29-52.
PV 0 7 9 14 - 30
JT 12 14 17 9 - 52
Three-pointers: PV - Whildin 1, Cullen 1; JT - Lawrence 1.