Entering last night's rivalry matchup between the Tamaqua and Panther Valley girls, the Lady Raiders had already punched their ticket to the district playoffs, while the Lady Panthers still needed a win.
When the final buzzer sounded, it was Tamaqua that picked up a 52-35 victory. With the loss, Panther Valley's chance is now down to winning on the road Friday at Pine Grove.
"We just got done talking about that in the locker room," Panther Valley head coach Josh Wank admitted following the post-game discussion. "I told them that now, we pretty much need to be 'road warriors' and take care of business on Friday."
Earlier on in the season, PV (11-12) dropped a three-point decision to the Lady Cardinals at home, but need to replicate that same effort in a couple days because they are facing a 'one-game season.'
Tamaqua (14-7 overall), on the other hand, need not worry about the pressure. That comfort showed, as they played well enough to pull out the win last night.
"I think we definitely had a good all-around game tonight," Tamaqua head coach Joe Berezwick mentioned. "Everyone did well for us and I'm lucky to have a great group of kids with great instincts on the court. I think that showed."
The Blue Raiders employed strong defensive efforts on the night, pressuring the hosts all over the court, enforcing the problem of turnovers for the Lady Panthers. On the night, PV committed 31 miscues, which led to plenty of easy scoring opportunities for Tamaqua.
"We prepared for their defense and we knew what was coming," Wank quipped. "Their 2-3 zone gave us trouble all night, but I'm just more disappointed with our girls' effort. To get a shot to play a meaningful game like this and come out and play like we did...it's upsetting."
In the first frame, the two sides traded buckets before a 6-0 run by the winners pushed a 7-6 lead to 13-7 after one session. Kayla Hope's six paced Tamaqua, while Trayvonda Rice hit four inside points to keep it close.
In the second, Tamaqua continued to add to their lead, outscoring PV 16-6 in the period to take a 29-13 edge at the break. Hope added six more in the second, while Maria Streisel had six.
An 8-2 run began the second half for Tamaqua, before Abbey Whildin hit a three-pointer to attempt counteracting the tide. However, another 6-0 run by the winners provided them with their largest lead of the night at 45-18 with 1:30 left in the frame.
"Coming into this game, we were happy that we averaged giving up 38 points per game," Wank stated. "But give Tamaqua credit because they took the ball to the basket like it was their job tonight."
Now, Tamaqua squares off against Jim Thorpe on Friday for their final regular season game. "Both teams are familiar with each other and Jim Thorpe is having a great year this season," Berezwick commended. "Hopefully, we can take it to them."
In the game, Hope and Maria Streisel had 17 and 15 points. For Panther Valley, Whildin's 12 was tops, while Rice had nine points, seven blocks and eight rebounds.
Tamaqua out-rebounded PV 36-30, while the Raiders only had eight turnovers.
Hope 7-3-4-17, Demetriades 0-2-2-2, Trainer 0-0-0-0, Kabilko 2-0-4-4, M. Streisel 3-9-11-15, C. Streisel 2-1-2-6, V. Solt 0-0-0-0, Hartung 0-0-0-0, Valasek 0-0-0-0, A. Solt 0-8-8-8. TOTALS: 14-23-31-52.
Whildin 4-2-5-12, M. Markovich 2-0-0-5, Thomas 1-0-0-2, Paul 0-0-0-0, Rice 4-1-2-9, O. Markovich 0-0-0-0, Cunfer 3-1-2-7, Zlock 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 14-4-9-35.
Tamaqua 13 16 16 7 - 52
Panther Vy. 7 6 8 14 - 35
Three pointers: T - C. Streisel 1; PV - Whildin 2, M. Markovich 1.