The Lady Raiders didn't exactly get off to the start they wanted to this season recording just a 1-4 record after five games. A new look for Tamaqua, one that lacks size, might have attributed to the slow start for the Lady Raiders, who haven't been used to fielding small line-ups over the years.

However, the second half against Panther Valley on Thursday night showed that one department Tamaqua does not lack size in is the size of its heart. The Lady Raiders only allowed the Panthers to score seven points in the second half en route to their fourth straight victory, downing Panther Valley 40-27 in a very important Schuylkill League Division I contest.

It was a defensive battle early on as the two offenses seemed to be under lock and key for much of the first quarter.

Business picked up in the second with the two combining for a total of 23 points in the quarter. Panther Valley took advantage of the smaller low post players for Tamqua, getting some easy buckets on put-back opportunities. The Panthers outscored Tamaqua by three in the quarter to knot things at 20-20 heading into halftime.

Another reason for the Tamaqua struggles in the first half was its poor shooting from the field. The Lady Raiders, who are most definitely a team that likes to shoot the jumper, weren't hitting their shots early on. Throw in the fact that senior guard Kayla Hope (11.22 ppg) picked up her third foul in the second quarter and things looked to be swaying the Panthers way heading into intermission.

Unfortunately for Panther Valley, there was a second half as they were outscored 20-7 in the final two quarters.

At first Tamaqua pressured the Panthers early in the third, but then the Reaiders switched to a 2-3 zone after Panther Valley did a good job of handling Tamaqua's full-court defense.

"The kids were a little dejected to be tied at the half and were frustrated because we weren't hitting our shots," said Tamaqua coach Joe Berezwick. "We also wanted to pressure them and try to force them to turn it over. But they did a good job of handling it. We didn't give them problems until we switched to a 2-3, with Kayla (Hope) and Maria (Streisel) just ball hawking their girls the length of the court, then getting back into the zone."

The Panthers, who turned the ball over 11 times in the first half didn't improve on that mark, turing it over 13 more times in the second.

"That's the story of the game right there," said Panther Valley coach Josh Wank. "You can't turn the ball over 24 times and score seven points in the second half and expect to come out on top in Division I of the Schuylkill League. We talked to our girls after the game and stressed that we have to do a better job of finishing games. This team has a lot of fight though and we'll bounce back."

Hope, who played the rest of the ball game with three fouls carried Tamaqua in the second half scoring 10 of the Lady Raiders 20 points. Hope ended up with a game-high 16 points, while Maria Streisel scored 10, including eight from the charity stripe.

PANTHER VALLEY

Whildin 1-1-2-3, Blasko 1-0-1-2, Trainer 0-0-0-0, Thomas 4-0-0-8, Rice 2-1-1-5, Markovich 0-0-0-0, Cunfer 2-0-2-4, Zlock 2-1-2-5. TOTALS: 12-3-8-27.

TAMAQUA

Hope 7-2-3-16, Demetriades 0-0-0-0, Trainer 0-0-0-0, Kabilko 0-2-2-2, M. Streisel 1-8-11-10, C.Streisel 2-0-0-5, Valasek 0-0-0-0, Solt 3-1-2-7. TOTALS: 13-13-18-40.

Panther Valley 7 13 4 3 - 27

Tamaqua 10 10 12 8 - 40

Three-pointers: Panther Valley - None; Tamaqua - C. Streisel 1.