There are many attributes that a basketball team must possess in order to be successful. One of those traits is most certainly the ability to bounce back after a big loss or lackluster performance.
The Northern Lehigh Bulldogs showed last night at Jim Thorpe that they are able to do just that. The 'Dawgs bounced back from a 29-point loss to Salisbury the night prior, handling the Olympians for a 56-37 non-league victory.
It couldn't have been a tougher match-up for for the Olympians. Thorpe is not a very big team to begin with. Their biggest player is 6-3 Dave Everitt on the inside with the rest of the their line-up being six foot and under. The Bulldogs (11-5) on the other hand boast the biggest line-up in the TIMES NEWS area with Josh Eden (6-3), Caleb Johnson (6-4), Josh Landsberger (6-4), and Lucas Pierce (6-6). Needless to say, it wasn't going to be an easy night on the boards for the Olympians.
It took a little time for Northern Lehigh to get going, leading JT by just five points with 4:30 left in the second quarter. The Bulldogs offensive attack was a little sluggish in the first half and they seemed to be settling for jump shots, rather than using their size to score inside. Still, the Bulldogs held a 29-22 advantage at halftime.
"I was a little worried about us finding our legs early on because of our performance the night before," said Northern Lehigh coach Jeff Miller. "It took us a little bit to get going, especially in the first half, but we came out and played well to start the third quarter. We just needed to play smarter offensively and move the ball around. We stressed before the game that we wanted to get the ball inside, so we just emphasized that point more at halftime and the kids came out and executed."
Northern Lehigh not only picked it up on the offensive end, they elevated their defensive game as well to start the second half. The Bulldogs "D" only gave up a total of 16 points in the final two frames. Jim Thorpe's lack of size caught up to them in the second half as they were dominated on the boards, giving the 'Dawgs easy buckets on the interior.
Another reason for Jim Thorpe's struggles on the evening was their inability to stop junior small forward Josh Eden. Eden came into the game vs. Thorpe averaging a TN area best 18 points per game. Eden gashed the Olympians for 27 points, pretty much getting any shot he wanted on the night.
"Once again we struggled offensively, which has been our achilles heel all year," said Jim Thorpe coach Brian Carroll. "Our kids played hard and I thought we had a chance to maybe shock them a little bit after their big loss last night, but their just a good basketball team. They made the plays when they needed to and their size was too much for us inside, they're just a tough team."
Northern Lehigh will now enter what could be their toughest two-game stretch of the season having to face off with Bangor (11-4) and Blue Mountain (12-3) on Thursday and Friday night. With the season winding down and some tough opponents still on the horizon coach Miller and his staff still have some fine tuning to do before they enter postseason play.
"Offensively, we have been doing some nice things and I think we're okay there, but we need to sure some things up on defensive side of the ball," said Miller. "Big games are obviously decided on the defensive side of the ball, so I think if we can sure up our "D" we'll be a tough team to deal with come playoff time."
Pierce added 11 for Northern Lehigh. For Jim Thorpe Khadir Lindsey and Jaquan Brown both netted 10 points a piece.
Egan 1-0-02, Dibilio 2-2-2-7, Eden 13-1-1-27, Hofmann 0-1-2-1, Landsberger 1-0-0-2, Johnson 3-0-0-6, Pierce 5-1-1-1. TOTALS: 25-5-6-56.
Harelston 2-0-0-6, Lindsey 5-0-0-10, M.Principe 1-0-0-3, Smith 1-0-0-2, Brown 5-0-0-10, Everitt 3-0-0-6, Green 0-0-0-0, S.Principe 0-0-0-0, McElmoyle 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 17-0-0-37.
No. Lehigh 16 13 14 13 - 56
Jim Thorpe 7 15 6 9 - 37
Three-pointers: NL - Dibilio 1; JT - Harelston 2, M. Principe 1.