Palmerton boys basketball followers have seen their team take plenty of lumps early on this season, yet still believed it was just a matter of time before the Blue Bombers could collect their first win of the season. No one wanted it to happen more than first-year head coach Leigh Keenan.
Much to their delight, the wait is over, as Palmerton utilized a huge second quarter to pull away from the Jim Thorpe and hold on for the 64-44 first-round win at the 33rd Annual Slatington Rotary Tournament at Northern Lehigh High School.
"It feels great to get the first win," Keenan said. "A lot of things were working tonight for us. We stayed together, ran our plays, stayed patient. We played together."
The Blue Bombers ran their half-court offense efficiently enough to wear down Jim Thorpe's defense and take advantage of the smaller Olympians.
The inside duo of Mark Quinn and Spencer Hay did their thing down low, and in the second frame, a full-court press clicked and an 18-0 run by Palmerton led to the relatively easy win.
"It's a really nice feeling to have a lot of players contribute," Keenan said. "Our program starts and finishes with everyone. It's not just a couple guys. We got started with a couple guys, made some personnel changes and got rolling on all cylinders tonight."
There were 10 lead changes in the first quarter as both teams battled back and forth, resulting in a 14-13 Olympian lead after eight minutes.
The second stanza is when the Bombers took the lead for good, as they opened the frame with a string of unanswered points over the course of 5:40, before a Shane Snisky lay-up stopped an 18-0 run to make it 31-16 in favor of the winners. A Hay turn-around and a Ben Weber put back finished the first half, giving Palmerton a 35-16 cushion going into the break.
"We adjusted with some personnel to put on the press in the second and I think it worked really well," Keenan said.
Two steals by senior guard Ty Achtermann and two more by Logan Lesher led to some easy shots to get things started to take control of the contest.
In the third, Jim Thorpe came out with a man-to-man defense that allowed them to cut into the Bomber lead, as they went on a 10-3 run at the 3:26 mark of the third frame.
However, Lesher converted on two free throws, nabbed a steal for an easy lay-up. He followed with a drive down the lane, and then swiped another steal, before dishing off to freshman Mike Stasko for a three-point play, helping his team push the lead back to 49-28 after three.
Two inside moves by Quinn began the fourth, allowing Keenan to empty the bench as the Bombers cruised the rest of the way.
"It feels great to get the win," Quinn stated. "For us, all the work over the summer and all year long, for our team to finally come together and get our first win, feels phenomenal."
Quinn led all scorers with a game-high 20 points, while also contributing 10 rebounds.
B. Carroll 2-1-2-7, Acker 0-0-0-0, Heydt 0-0-0-0, Principe 0-0-0-0, Micciche 3-2-2-9, R. Carroll 1-0-0-2, Lawrence 2-0-0-4, St. Hill 3-0-0-7, Green 0-0-0-0, McElmoyle 0-0-0-0, O. Snisky 2-1-2-5, Everitt 1-1-2-3, S. Snisky 3-1-3-7. TOTALS: 17-6-11-44.
Hay 3-6-6-12, Achtermann 0-0-0-0, Svetik 2-0-0-5, Lesher 2-2-4-6, Weber 2-0-2-4, Frey 3-1-2-9, Suto 1-0-0-2, Quinn 8-4-8-20, Andress 0-0-0-0, Buck 0-1-2-1, Depuy 0-0-0-0, Stasko 2-1-1-5. TOTALS: 22-15-25-64.
Jim Thorpe 14 2 12 16 - 44
Palmerton 13 22 14 15 - 64
Three pointers: JT – B. Carroll 2, Micciche, St. Hill; P - Frey 2, Svetik.