Both the Panther Valley boys' and girls' basketball teams sent a strong message on Saturday that they're both alive in the quest for playoff spots. Both squads won convincingly against Lehighton.
Panther Valley did what was expected of it against Lehighton.
With the Panthers' flirting with a.500 record and the Indians having just one win on the season, it was anticipated that PV would emerge victorious.
Lehighton proved stubborn in the first half, though, and even had a lead over Panther Valley in the second quarter. After the break, the Panthers got into gear and ran away to a 66-50 win.
The difference in the second half was that the Panthers pressured the young Indian squad relentlessly. Panther Valley had key steals, controlled the boards, and netted almost every shot attempted in that third quarter. They outscored the Tribe 22-10 in the period.
Coach Pat Crampsie was obviously proud of his team's performance.
"We had a lot of balance and I'm real happy to see it. The guys have been playing unselfishly. The guys are playing with confidence," Crampsie said. "One thing that doesn't show up in the statistics is Brock (Mitchell) coming off the bench with his rebounds. That was huge."
Mitchell, an imposing figure at 6-6 in a bulky frame, produced nine rebounds for the Panthers. He also had three steals and scored six points.
Regarding postseason play, Crampsie sounded confident. "We're 6-7. If we play the way we did the last two nights, I'm confident that we're in it."
"The level of intensity, the unselfishness, focusing on the task at hand is making all the difference," he remarked.
The coach gave kudos, too, to starting guard Joe Dalessio, who had "his best game of the season." Crampsie said, "He's showing more confidence. He played with a lot of toughness tonight."
Dalessio was the game high scorer with Nick McArdle for the Panthers, each having 12 points. Nate Matthewson had 11 points and Thad Ogozalek contributed 10.
For Lehighton (1-12), the leading scorer was sophomore James Farano at 12.
Senior D J Rossino played just his second game this season. Rossino, who returned to the line-up Friday night after having offseason knee surgery, had seven points and three steals. His brother, Anthony Rossino, a sophomore, had eight points and four steals.
Lehighton coach Richard Oertner obviously was disappointed with the game's outcome.
"Defensively we're not doing the job," he said. "We shot the ball well a couple of games but not the last four or five. We're struggling big time.
"I guess we have to go back to the basics."
Panther Valley leaped to an 11-2 first quarter lead but the Indians came back. A pair of buckets by Farano, including a three-pointer, and three points by D J Rossino made the score 12-12.
Early in the second period, Nate Kresge swished a ball from right of the key for three points and put Lehighton in front for their only time in the game, 15-14. PV responded with 10 unanswered points. Later in the second quarter, Lehighton came to within five before the Panthers again showed their might.
By the end of quarter three, PV was leading, 55-33.
There were some similarities in the girls' and boys' games between Panther Valley and Lehighton.
* The records of the boys' and girls' teams were similar. Lehighton entered the game with only one win. The Panthers, with the win, are now 7-6.
* The Lady Panthers still have a shot at seeing playoff action.
* The main similarity was an eruptive third quarter in which Panther Valley outscored Indians, 26-4, en route to their 58-23 victory.
Sophomore Madison Blasko shot an amazing 71 percent hitting 10 of her 14 field goal tries, one a three-pointer, to emerge as top scorer with 17 points.
Junior Trayvonda Rice, a 6-3 junior, did a great job under the boards and was the second leading scorer with 14 points. She had five field goals on seven shots.
Panther Valley took a 13-11 lead in the first quarter with Blasko and Rice each getting four points.
Riley Durishin, a freshman for the Indians, got six of her eight points in that first period. She finished the game as her team's high scorer.
In the second period, the Panthers slowly pulled away, leading 24-13 at the break. The stingy defense of the Panthers allowed Lehighton to get just one field goal in that period.
For the rest of the game, it was all PV.
"Any win like this is a good one as we try to qualify for district playoffs," said Panther Valley coach Josh Wank. "This was the best basketball we played all year."
He added, "In the second half, we established ourselves."
Wank had praise for the defensive efforts of MaryJane Thomas and Macey Markovich, who he said, "did a special job around their guards."
Offensively, Wank said Rice, Blasko, and Olivia Markovich all had good games.
A. Rossino 3-2-2-8, Farano 3-4-5-12, Kresge 2-1-2-6, D J Rossino 3-1-1-7, McCandless 0-0-2-0, Guyn 1-2-2-4, Crum 0-0-0-0, Thompson 0-0-0-0, Knappenberger 3-0-0-8, Nalesnik 1-3-4-5. Totals: 16-13-20-50.
King 0-2-2-2, Szczecina 0-0-0-0, McArdle 4-1-2-12, Stano 0-0-0-0, Owens 0-0-0-0, Ogozalek 2-5-8-10, Romanchik 4-1-1-9, Dalessio 5-2-2-12, Kusko 0-0-0-0, Ferryman 0-4-8-4, N. Matthewson 5-1-3-11, Mitchell 2-2-4-6, Vermillion 0-0-0-0, J. Matthewson 0-0-0-0. Totals: 22-18-30-66.
Lehighton 12 11 10 17 - 50
Panther Vy. 14 19 22 11 - 66
Three-pointers: L - Farano 2, Knappenberger 2, Kresge 1. PV - McArdle 3, Ogozalek 1.
Shelly 0-0-0-0, Green 0-0-0-0, Barclay 2-0-0-5, Magyar 0-0-2-0, Yurasits 1-0-0-2, Evans 0-0-0-0, Durishin 4-0-0-8, Smith 1-0-0-5, Pell 0-4-4-4, Daniels 0-0-0-0, Thompson 0-2-2-2, Rehrig 0-0-0-0, Cordova 0-0-0-0. Totals: 8-6-8-23.
Whilden 0-3-5-3, Blasko 8-0-0-17, Kehrli 0-0-0-0, Phillips 0-0-0-0, Jacobs 0-0-0-0, M. Markovich 0-0-0-0, Thomas 3-0-0-6, Paul 0-0-0-0, Rice 5-4-5-14, O. Markovich 3-0-0-6, Cunfer 1-2-2-4, Zlock 3-2-5-8, Smith 0-0-0-0. Totals: 23-11-17-58.
Lehighton 11 2 4 6 - 23
Panther Vy. 13 11 26 8 - 58
Three-pointers: L - Barclay 1. PV - Blasko 1.