The Tamaqua boys basketball program took some big strides during the 2012-13 season.
The Raiders qualified for districts for the first time since 2004, won a playoff game for the first time since 2001, and showed onlookers that they were a program on the rise.
However, all good things must come to an end and the Raiders met that end last night in the District 11 AAA quarterfinal, facing off with the Vikings from Allentown Central Catholic. The Raiders were just simply overwhelmed with the talent and skill of their opponent, losing to the Vikings 77-37.
The Vikings (22-3) used their full-court pressure much like they have all season to stifle the Raiders (14-10) from the get go. Tamaqua committed seven turnovers in the first quarter and saw Allentown Central Catholic jump out to a commanding 22-3 lead.
"That's been our trademark all year," said Vikings coach Dennis Csensits. "We put a lot of pride in our full-court pressure. We run a couple of different presses and our guys just do a great job of executing. Our guys also came out with a lot of energy tonight and we got a lot of easy buckets to set the tone for the game."
The Raiders came out in a flat 1-3-1 zone, forcing the Vikings to shoot from the outside early. Central once again showed their skill set knocking down most of their open looks from the perimeter. ACC's Muhammed-Ali Abdur-Rahkman got hot early as well, hitting two treys and another jumper from the outside, along with getting two from the charity stripe to score 10 first quarter points. Rahkman added 11 more in the second frame to have 21 heading into intermission.
The Raiders had a little more success getting the ball across half-court in the second quarter, but they couldn't halt the Vikings on the defensive end, trailing by 25 at the break.
"They are just a complete basketball team," said Tamaqua coach Caszy Kosciolek. "What I feared most and what happened was their defensive pressure getting so many points for them. We couldn't match up with them man-to-man, so we had to use a zone scheme to force them to shoot from the outside and they did that well too. The difference really was their full-court pressure though and we were behind the eight ball early because of that."
The length of the Vikings really bothered the Raiders on all fronts. The Vikings three main contributors in Rahkman, Michael Kammerer, and Jean Lee Baez all measure 6-4 or better and it affected the Tamaqua shooters throughout the evening. The Raiders were only able to come up with 14 buckets on the night, shooting 14-for-41 or 29 percent from the field.
ACC's length also helped them dominate on the boards with the Vikings constantly getting second chance opportunities.
"That's been an area where we haven't been particularly strong, so we have really focused on getting better at it in practice," said Csensits. "It was good to see our guys make some real nice strides in that area."
Although, Tamaqua's season did not end on a winning note there are still a lot of positives to take away from the 2012-13 season.
"The experience of playing in these postseason games for our team and our younger kids is priceless," said Kosciolek. "We took a giant step in the program this year without a doubt. We talked to the kids after the game about how important they are to the resurgence of Tamaqua basketball and we're looking forward to getting back to work and getting better in the offseason."
Rahkman finished with a game-high 26 points while Baez and Kammerer each chipped in with 12.
For Tamaqua Brett Kosciolek was the lone Raider in double figures with 15.
Rottet 2-0-0-4, Chartier 0-1-2-1, Krell 2-1-2-5, Blaker 1-0-0-3, Frantz 2-0-0-4, Kehl 0-0-0-0, MacDonald 0-0-0-0, Marcin 0-0-0-0, Ty. Skripko 1-1-2-3, Kosciolek 5-2-2-15, Tr. Skripko 0-0-0-0, Co. Hartung 0-0-0-0, Murphy 0-0-0-0, Ch. Hartung 1-0-0-2, Minchhoff 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 14-5-8-37.
Baez 5-2-2-12, Maley 2-0-1-5, Vaughan 0-0-0-0, Rahkman 8-6-8-26, Pratt 2-0-0-5, McCarthy 1-0-0-2, Gottshall 0-0-0-0, Shepherd 0-0-0-0, McKee 1-0-0-2, Stevens 4-0-0-8, Kammerer 4-2-2-12, McKee 0-0-0-0, Gonzalez 2-1-2-5. TOTALS: 29-11-15-77.
Tamaqua 3 12 7 15 - 37
Allentown CC 22 18 17 20 - 77
Three-pointers: T - Kosciolek 3, Blaker 1; Rahkman 4, Kammerer 2, Pratt 1, Maley 1.