For the Tamaqua girls' basketball program, the foundation of the 2010-2011 season has been built on high expectations.
However, instead of working with bricks and mortar, the Lady Raiders have been using memories and accomplishments as their building blocks to success.
Last night against Panther Valley was no exception, as Tamaqua clinched the Schuylkill League Division 1 championship on Senior Night with a dominating 56-26 victory over the Panthers.
The game also saw senior Amy Zehner etch her name into the Tamaqua record books, as she joined Cindy Miller (1977-1980) in an elite fraternity of becoming just the second girl in school history to account for 1,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds.
With the win improving Tamaqua's record to 19-0 on the season, Zehner will now look to guide the Lady Raiders to another historical feat of becoming just the second girls' basketball team in school history to finish with an undefeated regular season (joining the 1976-1977 squad). Tamaqua's three remaining games are against Pottsville, Jim Thorpe and Lehighton.
"This is definitely a special team and I can't say enough about our four seniors" stated Tamaqua head coach Joe Berezwick. "Obviously, it starts with Amy Zehner, but Allison Updike has her own story, Cassie Eroh has hers to tell, and then you have Stacey Wallace with her size coming back from a year off. It's just a great group of girls that I'm very fortunate to be a part of."
Needing just five rebounds for 1,000, Zehner wasted no time leaving her mark. After scoring nine straight first quarter points to give her team an 11-6 lead, Zehner secured an offensive tip off a Christine Streisel running floater with one second remaining in the opening quarter for her milestone rebound.
"Getting 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds is quite an accomplishment, but I couldn't have done it without the help of my teammates and coaches over the last four years," said Zehner. "This season is an exciting time for all of us and we have a lot more we want to accomplish together."
Panther Valley (3-15) actually played step-for-step with Tamaqua for the first nine minutes of the contest and a Madison Blasko deuce with 6:52 left in the second quarter cut the Panthers deficit to 11-10.
However, it was all downhill from there.
Over the course of the next 11:47, Tamaqua went on a 33-0 run as the Panthers missed 13 straight shots from the floor, while committing 17 turnovers. By the time Sam Zlock ended the drought with a jumper at the 3:05 mark of the third quarter, Tamaqua had a commanding 44-12 lead.
"That's kind of been the story of our season," noted Panther Valley head coach Josh Wank. "We'll play well for a quarter or so and then we bury ourselves with a bad stretch of basketball."
"Tonight we had our moments where we played poorly and turned the ball over and Tamaqua capitalized," added Wank. "We have a lot of youth on this team and we have everyone back next year, so we just have to learn from our mistakes."
Zehner led Tamaqua with 25 points and 11 rebounds. Cassie Eroh added 13 points.
"Panther Valley hung around for a bit and then we got a little opening there in the second quarter to take a 25-10 halftime lead," noted Berezwick. "In the third quarter, we just took control of the game defensively, especially Kayla Hope."
In the JV game, Tamaqua rolled to a 35-17 victory behind Christine Streisel's nine points.
Blasko 2-0-0-5, Kehrli 1-0-0-2, Phillips 1-0-0-2, Jacobs 0-0-0-0, Thomas 2-6-6-10, Jones 0-0-0-0, Paul 0-0-0-0, Rice 1-0-0-2, Markovich 1-0-0-2, Cullen 0-0-0-0, Cunfer 0-2-4-2, Zlock 1-1-2-3. TOTALS: 8-9-12-26.
Hope 1-2-3-4, Trainer 0-0-0-0, Kabilko 0-0-0-0, M. Streisel 0-0-0-0, Walker 0-0-0-0, C. Streisel 0-0-0-0, Eroh 4-5-6-13, Zehner 11-2-3-25, Wagner 1-0-0-2, Updike 2-1-2-5, Urban 0-0-0-0, Wallace 0-0-1-0, Solt 3-1-2-7. TOTALS: 22-11-17-56.
Panther Vy. 8 2 5 11 - 26
Tamaqua 11 14 21 10 - 56
Three-pointers: Panther Valley - Blasko 1; Tamaqua - Zehner 1.