Monday night's match-up between Tamaqua and Northern Lehigh figured to be a grind-it-out-battle between two six-win teams.
At the end of the night, the winner wasn't in doubt as one team was left standing while the other was beaten and bruised.
After a sloppy first quarter by both teams, Northern Lehigh got things rolling behind senior forward Josh Eden and went on to beat Tamaqua in non-league play 62-46. The Raiders got within ten points midway through the third and trailed by 11 at the end of the quarter, but that was the closest they would get the rest of the night.
"We tried to take advantage of our size," said Northern Lehigh head coach Jeff Miller. "We knew coming in that other than Brett (Kosciolek) they didn't have a lot of size. We were going to pound it in any time they went man-to-man. In the end it kind of played out that way."
Tamaqua opened the game with a three-pointer by Kosciolek from the left corner. Unfortunately for the Raiders, those would be the only points they would score in the frame before Adam Frantz finally hit a jumper at the buzzer. Northern Lehigh didn't run away and hide and had some trouble scoring of its own (eight points), but it felt as if the Bulldogs controlled most of the play.
Tamaqua continued to struggle shooting the ball in the second. Again, the Raiders could only muster two field goals on their way to seven second-quarter points. This time Northern Lehigh didn't let the opportunity to open up the lead slip away. Eden scored six points, while Caleb Johnson cleaned up the offensive glass on his way to two buckets. The 16-point quarter gave the 'Dawgs a 24-12 halftime lead.
"We settled for jumpers way too much," said Tamaqua head coach Caszy Kosciolek. "We didn't take the ball into the gut of the defense. We didn't get the ball inside. We were just too impatient and obviously didn't shoot the ball well from the perimeter.
"Northern Lehigh was just so physically more mature than us quite frankly. They just out-strengthed us and out-quicked us and took advantage of the match-ups."
The Raiders' offensive finally came alive in the third quarter behind Frantz (seven), Bo Rottet (five) and Ty Krell (five) and doubled their field goals made within the first three minutes and 30 seconds. However, they only made up one point as they allowed Northern Lehigh to pour in 18 thanks to big quarters by Eden (five) and Matt Egan (seven)
The 'Dawgs kept the pressure on in the fourth. Eden scored 11 of his game-high 24 in the final frame to put the game away.
"We played great tonight," said Eden. "We hit the open man and it happened to be me under the basket tonight. It's a good way to start the week.
"It's a big win for us. Tamaqua is a tough team. They have a great coach and (Kosciolek) is a tough player. It's a good win and I like where we are headed."
Kosciolek led Tamaqua with 13 points while Frantz added 11. The loss drops the Raiders to 7-3, but their coach is looking for them to bounce back in their next game.
"Hopefully what we take away is what we took away from Pottsville and Blue Mountain," said Kosciolek. "I know we are going to have bumps in the road because of our inexperience, but I am hoping we bounce back like we did after our two losses. We get back in the league with Jim Thorpe and we have to be ready to go. Today's over, so now we have to move on."
After Eden's 24, Tyler Dibilio and Egan added 14 and 11 points respectively for Northern Lehigh. Johnson ended up with nine. T
Rottet 1-3-4-6, Chartier 1-0-0-2, Krell 2-4-6-8, Weinert 0-0-0-0, Frantz 5-0-0-11, Wargula 1-0-0-3, Kehl 0-0-0-0, MacDonald 0-0-0-0, Marcin 1-0-0-3, Kosciolek 3-6-8-13, Tr. Skripko 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 14-13-18-46.
Hoffer 0-0-0-0, Egan 4-2-4-11, Dibilio 4-4-6-14, Taylor 0-0-0-0, Eden 11-2-3-24, Hofmann 0-0-0-0, Landsberger 0-2-4-2, Scheetz 0-0-0-0, Johnson 4-1-1-9, Pierce 1-0-0-2. TOTALS: 24-11-18-62.
Tamaqua 5 7 19 15 - 46
No. Lehigh 8 16 18 20 - 62
Three-pointers: T - Rottet 1, Frantz 1, Wargula 1, Marcin 1, Kosciolek 1; NL - Dibilio 2, Egan 1.