Lehighton went on a 13-point run from midway through the third quarter to just over three minutes left in the game to pull away for a 55-30 triumph over Palmerton in the nightcap of a girls-boys doubleheader to open the season in the Indians' gym on Friday night.
The Tribe rode the hot outside shooting of Jordan Knappenberger, who hit five of the six three-pointers from behind the arc and had a game-high 17 points, along with some defensive board work of Vince Mele, who added 14 points and seven rebounds, to take control of the contest after intermission.
"We made some defensive adjustments at halftime that worked out for us," said Lehighton head coach Rich Oertner. "We had planned on those adjustments in the first half, but they just didn't work. When you see it in front of you on the board, they see they can actually move to there.
"Palmerton did a pretty good job getting the ball to the middle in the second half at one point and that hurt us a little bit. And I don't know why that happened because we stressed that at practice a lot. And when it did get there, Palmerton missed a lot of good shots. They worked the ball pretty well I thought. They just missed some big shots."
The Bombers actually had their only lead of the contest with 3:32 left in the first quarter at 6-5, but Knappenberger hit his second trey of the night to put the Indians up to stay.
"We didn't finish well around the rim." said Bomber head coach Leigh Keenan. "We did get to it, but it's tougher against a zone. We just didn't finish and that was the problem.
"The second quarter was tough for us. A lot of turnovers, both off rebounds and outlet passes. But I'm proud of my guys. The energy was there, we're dedicated, we got to switch around the defenses a little bit and we stayed
Lehighton had a 15-12 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Bombers cut it to three (20-17) with 5:34 left in the half, before the Indians scored the last five points before intermission and took a 26-17 lead.
Points were hard to come by for the Bombers after Ty Achtermann hit a jumper to open the third quarter. Mele scored six straight points to give Lehighton a 10-point lead and then a couple of treys by Knappenberger built it up to 40-26 entering the final eight minutes.
Lehighton scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter to go out in front 48-26 with just under five minutes remaining and Palmerton, with just four points down the stretch, couldn't counter.
"If Knappenberger is set, he's pretty good shooter," said Oertner. "(Tyler) Crum really can't shoot the ball right now because he hasn't played. He went to the basket a couple of times which surprised me. But Knappenberger hit some big shots that got us over the hump."
"This is basketball like I remember it back in 1975," said Oertner. "I remember having to get through the crowd to get into the games. I wish every game would be like this because I think the kids get something out of it win over lose."
Quinn was the lone Bomber in doubles with 15 points.
Hay 0-0-0-0, Achtermann 4-0-0-9, Svetik 1-0-0-2, Lesher 1-0-0-2, Weber 0-0-0-0, Frey 1-0-0-2, Quinn 6-3-4-15, Shivone 0-0-0-0, Andress 0-0-0-0, Buck 0-0-0-0, Stasko 0-0-0-0, Ruger 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 13-3-4-30.
Rossino 2-0-0-4, Faran0 2-0-0-4, Krum 1-7-10-9, Williams 1-0-0-3, McCandless 1-0-0-2, K. Knappenberger 1-0-0-2, Ruzicka 0-0-0-0, Chambers 0-0-0-0, J. Knappenberger 6-0-0-17, Mele 7-0-0-14. TOTALS: 21-7-10-55.
Palmerton 12 5 9 4 - 30
Lehighton 15 11 14 15 - 55
Three-pointers: P - Achtermann 1; L - J. Knappenberger 5, McCandless 1.