For Nate Mathewson and Panther Valley, it was deja vu all over again.
A year ago, Mathewson scored a season-high against Tamaqua to help the Panthers break out of a slump.
With the Raiders in town Friday night and PV in the midst of a five-game losing streak, the senior center was hoping for a similar result.
Fortunately for him and the Panthers, he delivered again.
Mathewson owned the inside, as the athletic 6-5 player tallied a game-high 25 points to lead his team to a 71-57 Schuylkill League Division I victory.
"I had a big game against them last season so I was hoping to do it again tonight," he said. "Before the game I was really excited. We needed a win, so I knew it was a good time to step up."
"Nate had a huge game," said Panther Valley head coach Pat Crampsie. "We reminded him about his game last year against Tamaqua. We hit some threes early. That loosened things up a bit and helped open the inside for Nate."
The Panthers gained back-to-back treys late in the first quarter from Jake Szczecina and Thad Ogozalek to jump out to an 18-7 advantage. PV (5-7; 1-4) drained three more three-pointers in the second stanza, but couldn't pull away from the visiting Blue Raiders as Tyler Krell came through with eight points in the paint and Dalton Nunemacher hit twice from beyond the arc.
Things started to slip away from Tamaqua, though, in the second half as Mathewson began to dominate in the post. He exploded for 14 third-quarter points as the Panthers used a 28-15 frame to gain a huge 62-42 lead.
"He just played a fantastic game," said Blue Raider mentor Caszy Kosciolek, whose team dropped to 3-9 overall and 0-5 in the league. "We couldn't stop him. We tried putting a number of different people on him and he just got the job done. Give him credit.
"He's very active, a scoring threat and full of energy. Defense has been our Achilles Heel all season and it was again tonight. We played from behind the whole game, and we just didn't match their intensity."
Mathewson, who also had three blocks, was followed in scoring by Nick McArdle's 11 points and Stephen Romanchik's nine. McArdle added four steals and was solid at the point guard position. The 71 points were a season high, one game after posting one of the school's all-time lowest outputs in a 39-17 loss to Blue Mountain.
"It was one of our goals to play better offensively,"said Mathewson. "After last game, the offense was one of our main concerns. They're a good team, but maybe not as experienced inside so as a senior I tried to take advantage of that."
"We really needed this game and we needed them to play with confidence," added Crampsie. "Our biggest point of emphasis was to stick together. They were very unselfish tonight and were looking to make the extra pass. Now we need to come back and get another one (against Lehighton on Saturday)."
Tamaqua received a team-high 13 points from Nunemacher while Jake Fegley added 12.
In the JV game, the Raiders rolled to a 55-29 win. Adam Bates led the Raiders with 10 points while Zach Wargula added eight. For the Panthers, Luke Stano and Kyle Ferryman each tallied six points.
Nunemacher 5-0-0-13, Wargula 3-0-0-9, Fegley 5-2-3-12, B. Rottet 1-0-0-2, Frantz 1-0-0-2, Kosciolek 4-0-0-9, Kurek 1-0-0-2, Ty. Skripko 0-0-0-0, D. Rottet 0-0-0-0, Kehl 0-0-0-0, Krell 4-0-0-8, Hartung 0-0-0-0, Wingert 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 24-2-3-57.
King 0-0-1-0, Szczecina 3-0-0-8, McArdle 4-2-3-11, Stano 0-0-0-0, Ogozalek 3-0-1-8, Romanchik 4-0-1-9, Dalessio 3-0-0-6, Ferryman 0-0-0-0, N. Mathewson 9-6-8-25, Mitchell 2-0-2-4, Vermillion 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 28-8-16-71.
Tamaqua 9 18 15 15 - 57
Panther Vy. 18 16 28 9 - 71
Three-pointers: Tamaqua - Nunemacher 3, Wargula 3, Kosciolek 1; Szczecina 2, Ogozalek 2, McArdle 1, Romanchik 1, N. Mathewson 1.