On Senior Night, Tamaqua got contributions from each of its six upperclassmen, with reserve Eric Bachert hitting the game's biggest shot.
It was Bachert's baseline jumper with 30.6 seconds left that gave the Blue Raiders the lead for good in a 72-69 Schuylkill League Division I victory over visiting Jim Thorpe Thursday night.
The triumph snapped an eight-game slide for Tamaqua, which closed its season with a 5-17 mark (2-10 league). It also ended a 15-game losing streak to Jim Thorpe (6-16, 2-10), dating back to 2004.
The Raiders reversed a 55-37 loss to the Olympians on Feb. 4 by pouring in their highest point total of the season.
Tamaqua's two senior co-captains led the way. Guard Spencer Bennett pumped in a career-high 23 points, including four triples and two clinching free throws in the closing seconds. Forward Mike Streisel came up with a double-double of 21 points and 15 rebounds and had a breakaway dunk in the fourth quarter.
"Obviously, our seniors played with a little urgency in their last game," said Tamaqua Coach Jay Daubert, whose team lost six games this season by five points or less. "It would have been easy not to do so, the way some of these close games turned out for us in the last month.
"I was happy that our seniors got to go out with a win. Streisel had been working on that dunk opportunity, and it gave us a little bit of energy in that situation. Spencer hit those key foul shots, and Trevor Reinhardt (10 points, eight rebounds) was the most aggressive he's been all season. Zach Lakitsky (six points) and Jon Ansbach (five points, five rebounds) helped out, and for Eric Bachert, I was happy see to him knock down that big shot."
The hot shooting of J.T. Otto, who connected for 22 points, including five triples, sparked Thorpe's attack. His 12 points in the second stanza helped the Olympians to erase a five-point first period deficit and deadlock the score at 43 at the half.
"J.T. played phenomenal in his last game," said Jim Thorpe Coach Brian Carroll. "We played hard, and there were points where we played super, but then we reverted back to some bad habits, and that was very frustrating."
Thorpe took a slim 54-53 lead into the fourth quarter and had stretched it to 64-60 on two straight Otto hoops with 4:24 left when Streisel's steal and slam cut it to 64-62.
P.J. Johnson hit a free throw and a deuce to make it 67-62 with 3:31 to go, but Reinhardt scored inside and Streisel sank a pair at the line to close the Raiders within 67-66.
Tom Prontnicki's runner with 1:55 to go proved to be Thorpe's last points. Bennett scored on a drive at the 55.1 second mark, and after a Thorpe miss, Bachert nailed his go-ahead shot. Bennett's charity tosses with 15.5 seconds left gave the Raiders a three-point spread.
Dean DiBonifazio and Otto each had tries at the tying trey that didn't go down.
"It was bad clock management, because we had the ball with a one-point lead and lost track of time," said Carroll. "I should have called time out so we could regroup. Give credit to Tamaqua; they played a little better than we did."
Johnson finished with 14 points and eight rebounds while DiBonifazio added 12 points and Dane Ciavarella chipped in10 points and seven rebounds. Otto also pulled down nine boards.
Seniors DiBonifazio, Prontnicki, Milton Moranta and Michael Munoz joined Otto in playing their final games in a Thorpe uniform.
Tamaqua made it a sweep with a 48-42 JV win behind Tyler Krell's 23 points. Khaaliq Lynch tallied 18 for Thorpe.
DiBonifazio 3-5-6-12, Prontnicki 1-1-3-3, Moranta 2-3-3-8, Moore 0-0-0-0, Munoz 0-0-0-0, Ciavarella 4-2-2-10, Otto 8-1-2-22, Brown 0-0-0-0, Clark 0-0-0-0, Johnson 5-3-4-14. TOTALS: 23-15-20-69.
Bachert 2-0-0-4, Fegley 1-1-2-3, Streisel 7-7-9-21, Bennett 7-5-7-23, Lakitsky 1-4-5-6, Kurek 0-0-0-0, Ansbach 2-0-0-5, Reinhardt 5-0-0-10. TOTALS: 25-17-23-72.
Jim Thorpe 15 28 11 15 - 69
Tamaqua 20 23 10 19 - 72
Three-pointers: JT-Otto 5, DiBonifazio 1, Moranta 1, Johnson 1; T-Bennett 4, Ansbach 1.