Early in the second half of Saturday's Lehighton-Panther Valley girls basketball game, it didn't look like the Indians would need clutch plays down the stretch to pull out the victory.
But that's exactly what they needed and exactly what they got.
Lehighton let a big lead slip away, but still found a way to pull out a 47-45 non-league victory.
For nearly 18 minutes of play, the Indians executed their game plan to perfection, allowing them to build a comfortable 17-point lead.
But the Lady Panthers stormed back and eventually tied the game at 39-39 with 5:16 remaining in the fourth quarter.
"To their credit, I think you really can't keep any team down and keep them out of what they want to accomplish offensively and defensively for 32 minutes," Lehighton coach Eric Gidney said. "They're always going to have spurts. Their spurt obviously came at the right time.
"But, as a coach, one thing I try to do is take a team out of their comfort zone offensively. And, I think we did that and got them out of a rhythm. But, eventually they overcame that. But fortunately they ran out of time."
Celina Fital had the Indians' biggest basket of the night, hitting a field goal to give her team a two-point lead with 46.1 seconds left.
After PV closed to within a point, Riley Durishin made the front end of a one-and-one with 16.2 seconds to give the Indians a 47-45 lead.
The Panthers had a couple of attempts to tie the game in the final seconds, but couldn't convert and Lehighton held on for the victory.
"I told them, 'If you play full throttle like that in the first and second quarter, we're not worrying about coming back from 17,'" Panther Valley coach Brad Hurley stated. "It's a learning experience. I told them, 'This is a building block for us.' We have to learn and build off of this game.
"I'm also very proud of them. I don't care who you're playing against, you come back from 17 down, and make some big time shots that we were making at the end of the game. That's great."
Panther Valley's Madison Blasko, who was the target of the Indians' box-and-one defense, gave the Panthers their lone lead of the night with a three-pointer to start the game.
After the Indians tied it at 3-3, it was Tiff Thompson and Ali Rossino that sparked the Indians offensively in the first half. Thompson netted 10 of her team-high 15 points, while Rossino showed she can shoot as well as play solid defense, scoring eight of her 11 points in the first half.
Blasko (19 points) and Macey Markovich (14 points) then led a Panther Valley second half surge that came up just short.
"These girls really, really dug in and came back," said Hurley. They worked their tails off to try to get the win.
"I can't fault them for that. That's a huge positive for the program. We just have to learn from it and try to bounce back and get a win in our next game."
Rossino 5-0-0-11, Whiteman 0-0-0-0, Fital 3-0-0-6, Blasiak 4-0-0-8, Bollinger 0-0-0-0, Thompson 7-1-2-15, Rehrig 0-1-2-1, Durishin 0-4-6-4, Smith 1-0-0-2. TOTALS: 20-6-10-47.
Marouchoc 0-0-0-0, Blasko 8-0-0-19, Vance 1-1-2-3, Jacobs 1-0-0-2, Smith 0-0-0-0, M. Markovich 5-0-0-14, Mikovich 1-5-10-7. TOTALS: 16-6-12-45.
Lehighton 14 14 9 10 - 47
Panther Valley 10 7 9 19 - 45
Three-pointers: Lehighton - Rossino 1; Panther Valley - M. Markovich 4, Blasko 3.