Lehighton and Pleasant Valley's play in the first quarter was far from admirable.
Fortunately for the Bears, they got things turned around in the next three quarters and showed why they are a team to be taken seriously in the Mountain Valley Conference.
After shooting a dismal 2-for-12 in the opening quarter, Pleasant Valley got things rolling in the second quarter behind strong play from guard Selwyn Wright and center Marquis Brown. The pair combined to score 35 points on the night and helped lead the Bears to a 59-37 victory.
"I don't think we looked very interested early on," said Pleasant Valley head coach Ken Piontkowski. "I called a timeout and got on them for their defense. The way I look at it is if you start playing defense and get yourself into that way then usually the offense comes from that. Once we started playing a little more aggressively on the defensive end I think it fueled our offense."
Lehighton had trouble putting the ball in the basket as well. The Indians were 1-for-8 from the field in the first quarter and didn't score more than eight points in a quarter until Pleasant Valley pulled most of its rotational players in the fourth. It's poor shooting, combined with too many turnovers, sealed Indians' fate.
"We didn't shoot the ball very well," said Lehighton head coach Rich Oertner. "Pleasant Valley played pretty good defense. They were up on top of us and we had a hard time running our offense. We had 20 turnovers for the game. If you have turnovers and poor shooting then you just aren't going to win.
"We hustled and didn't quit. We just didn't shoot or reverse the ball well and we really didn't handle the ball well either. (Pleasant Valley's) aggressiveness really took us out of it tonight."
Pleasant Valley held a 17-6 lead midway through the second when Lehighton scored consecutive baskets and made Piontkowski call timeout. He got on his players about their defense and they seemed to get the message. The Bears followed with a 6-0 run before trading buckets to end the half.
After failing to score in the first quarter, Wright totaled eight of his game-high 21 points in the second. Brown did not score in the first either but responded with six in the second. He finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds. Together the duo sparked the Bears' offense for the rest of the night.
"Those two guys, Selwyn especially, started to get things going later on," said Piontkowski. "According to our stats, he was 10-for-15 from the field, which means he was getting to the bucket and making things happen. That is definitely the best part of his game."
"At the same time, [Nick] Stanovick (2-for-11) only had five points. I think it is a good sign when we can win without him having a good night."
Pleasant Valley's offense continued to click, as it outscored Lehighton 16-8 in the third quarter en route to a 41-20 lead at the end of three. The two teams went on to combine for 35 points in the fourth with the Bears winning easily.
Nate Kresge led Lehighton with 12 points.
"Lehighton has been playing teams tough and they can be dangerous when they get hot from the outside," Piontkowski said. "That's why I felt our defense was even more important tonight and I think we did a good job of defending their outside shot."
Rossino 1-2-2-4, Farano 3-2-4-9, Kresge 3-5-6-12, Nalesnik 3-0-4-6, Guyn 3-0-2-6, Crum 0-0-0-0, Thompson 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 13-9-18-37.
Brown 6-2-2-14, Stanovick 2-0-0-5, Jones 0-0-0-0, Wright 10-1-3-21, Dekmar 1-0-0-2, Guadagna 0-0-0-0, Howard 3-1-2-8, Shivers 1-0-0-2, Gerlimatos 1-0-0-2, Getz 0-1-2-1, Zwack 0-1-2-1, Helfrich 1-0-0-3, Neubert 0-0-0-0, Pazienza 0-0-0-0, Hosier 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 25-6-11-59.
Lehighton 5 7 8 17 - 37
Pleasant Vy 5 20 16 18 - 59
Three-Pointers: L – Farano 1, Kresge 1; PV – Stanovick 1, Howard 1, Helfrich 1.