The turning point in a basketball game can often be debated.
But on Saturday, there was no doubt when the key moment occurred in Panther Valley's 59-46 non-league win over Palmerton.
Trailing by one early in the second quarter, the Panthers stepped up their defense and put together a nine-minute stretch in which they didn't give up a single point.
That stand not only kept the Blue Bombers off the scoreboard, but it also allowed the host team's offense to get in gear. The result was a 16-0 run that proved to be the difference for PV.
"Our defense was very good in the second quarter," said Panther Valley head coach Pat Crampsie. "In the first quarter we were allowing them to get to the basket so we really wanted to stress for them to have to take jump shots over us and force them to be one-and-done and our kids did a good job of that. It allowed us to get going a little bit offensively."
Steven Romanchik, who scored a team-high 14 points, put the Panthers ahead for good at 22-21 on an offensive board and putback. Jake Szczecina (11 points) followed with a three-pointer and Romanchik hit again to build the margin to six.
After John Taras converted twice from the foul line with six seconds left until halftime, the Panthers (5-14) forced a turnover with 1.2 seconds to play. A long inbounds came to Szczecina, who drained a trey at the buzzer to push the advantage to 32-21. Palmerton never got within single digits the rest of the game.
"Jake's had a hot hand throughout most of the year," said Crampsie. "Right there Luke Stano made a terrific pass. He put it right on the money and gave Jake a chance to get that shot off. It was nice getting that momentum at halftime. I thought our guys were real pumped up and it kind of caused (Palmerton) to be down a little bit going into the half."
"That span before the half killed us," said Bomber mentor Frank McCarroll. "We lost all our momentum there ... You have to give them credit. They executed, they set their screens, they got wide-open looks, and they put it in the basket."
Both teams were putting the ball in the basket early on. Before PV's big run the two teams had combined for five ties and eight lead changes while the largest lead had only been three points.
"We were taking it strong to the basket. And then we stopped," said McCarroll, whose team dropped to 0-20. "I don't know what happened there during that dry spell. We thought we matched up well against them. We just don't have the weapons to come back from a run like that."
Besides Romanchik (who also added eight rebounds) and Szczecina, Kyle Ferryman added a season-high 11 points. Taras chipped in with nine.
"We hit a skid there the past few weeks where we struggled against some very good teams and bigger teams," said Crampsie, whose team has now won three of their last four and was observing Senior Day. "Sometimes that snowballs and it gets frustrating. The last two games were real good for us. It's good to get back on track.
"At this point of the season we want to help send our seniors off with a few good memories and start building some momentum into the offseason for next year."
The Bombers were led by Hay's 15 points while Mark Quinn finished with 14.
In the JV game, Panther Valley held on for a 44-40 victory. Ethan Vermillion had 15 points for the Panthers while Palmerton's Zach Buck had 19.
Hay 6-1-1-15, Shigo 0-0-0-0, Achterman 1-2-2-4, Lesher 1-2-2-4, Pereira 0-0-0-0, Leaver 1-0-0-2, Quinn 6-2-5-14, Shivone 0-1-2-1, Koma 0-0-0-0, Buck 1-0-0-2, Frey 0-0-0-0, Luers 1-2-2-4. TOTALS: 17-10-14-46.
Szczecina 4-0-0-11, Kusko 0-0-1-0, Stano 1-0-0-3, Romanchik 6-2-7-14, Kerschner 3-0-0-7, Ferryman 3-2-2-11, Taras 3-3-3-9, Vermillion 1-0-0-2, Keo 0-0-0-0, Campbell 1-0-0-2. TOTALS: 22-7-13-59.
Palmerton 14 7 11 14 - 46
Panther Vy. 14 18 14 13 - 59
Three-pointers: Palmerton - Hay 2; Panther Vy. - Szczecina 3, Ferryman 3, Stano 1, Kerschner 1.