Jim Thorpe head coach Brian Carroll knew in order to defeat Northern Lehigh, his team would need to neutralize the Bulldogs' inside dominance.
That is easier said then done.
The host Bulldogs compiled a huge rebounding advantage and rolled to a 48-30 victory in the finals of the Slatington Rotary Tournament on Wednesday.
"(Northern Lehigh) definitely has some big guys inside," Carroll said. "That was the difference. We stressed to our kids the importance of ball movement and the swing pass to avoid the chance of their height advantage coming into play, but they made it difficult to execute our game plan."
Northern Lehigh finished the game with a 37-18 rebounding edge. The Bulldogs pounded the offensive glass while limiting Jim Thorpe to single shot possessions.
"Winning this tournament was huge. The big guys played well for us," Northern Lehigh head coach Jeff Miller said. "But this tournament was one of our goals from the beginning of the season and it's nice to see them pull it out."
Both teams' defenses were impressive out of the gates, as a 9-5 edge was held by the hosts after one. Caleb Johnson's four early inside points helped the winners, while Dane Ciavarella led the Olympians with three first frame tallies.
In the second quarter, things picked up as Northern Lehigh stretched its lead to 28-14. The Bulldogs' Thatcher George hit two threes and added a put-back for all eight of his points in the period. Thorpe's PJ Johnson had five to keep things within reach.
Northern Lehigh padded its lead with a 12-11 third quarter stanza. Lucas Pierce hit for four points for Nolehi. Meanwhile, Ciavarella rimmed four for Jim Thorpe.
In the fourth, the two teams maintained the intensity on defense, forcing turnovers down the stretch. Caleb Johnson's five and Pierce's four ke[t the Bulldogs comfortably ahead.
"We're obviously disappointed without a win," Carroll said. "But the kids worked hard for 32 minutes so we are very proud of the effort."
Despite the win, Northern Lehigh struggled with turnovers, committing 22.
"We don't typically see that type of pressure night in and night out in the Colonial League," he stated "They're very athletic so it was a good test to see how well we can limit our turnovers."
Leading the 'Dawgs in scoring was Johnson with 11. Josh Eden and Pierce added eight points each.
Jim Thorpe got nine apiece from Darius Clark and Ciavarella.
The All-Tournament Team was comprised of Lehigton's James Farano, Palmerton's Tyler Svetik, Jim Thorpe's Clark, Northern Lehigh's Devin Glose and Johnson. The Bulldogs' Pierce was the MVP.
Harleston 0-0-0-0, Moore 0-0-0-0, Gallagher 0-0-0-0, Lynch 0-0-2-0, Ciavarella 4-1-2-9, Freeman 1-0-0-3, Baombolia 0-0-0-0, Brown 1-0-0-2, Clark 4-0-0-9, Johnson 3-0-0-7, Ennis 0-0-0-0, Mallory 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 13-1-4-30.
George 3-0-0-8, Eagan 0-0-0-0, Shupp 0-0-0-0, Dibilio 1-0-0-2, J. Prispash 0-0-0-0, Glose 2-2-5-6, Eden 3-0-0-8, Hoffman 0-0-0-0, Lansberger 1-3-4-5, Johnson 4-3-3-11, Pierce 4-0-0-8. TOTALS: 18-8-12-48.
Jim Thorpe 5 9 11 5 - 30
No. Lehigh 9 19 12 8 - 48
Three-pointers: JT - Freeman 1, Clark 1, Johnson 1.