The message was a simple one.

But it carried a lot of weight.

After watching a double-digit lead trimmed to one late in the third quarter, Panther Valley head coach Pat Crampsie called a timeout and made his point with emphasis.

"I just reminded them of what was on the line," said Crampsie. "I mean, let's face it, we have a lot of tough games coming up and we needed to get a win tonight. If we want to get to 11 (wins and make the playoffs), we couldn't allow a loss on our home floor tonight. It was a must win, so we reminded them of that a bit emphatically."

The point got through loud and clear and the Panther players responded in a big way.

Following Coach Crampsie's speech, PV went on a 15-2 run and pulled away for a 69-50 Schuylkill League Division 1 victory over Jim Thorpe.

"The kids came through and did a great job," said Crampsie, whose team improved to 8-6 overall and 3-4 in the league. "The effort was good all night. In the first half, missed layups hurt us. In the second half, we were much more patient and we scored 41 points.

"It's a good lesson for the kids because we kept stressing to be patient ... and make them work against our cutters. I don't think we did that a lot in the first half. When we forced them to work against our cutters, we have quick kids who were able to get into the lane and make things happen."

One of those kids was Kyle Ferryman, who set a season-high with 21 points. The senior guard hit a driving bucket early in the run and finished the spurt with another trip through the lane. That stretch turned a 37-36 score with 1:15 left in the third quarter into a 52-38 cushion with five minutes left to play.

"He's all over the floor," said Crampsie. "He's one of the most competitive kids that I've coached. He's a great kid and a pleasue to coach. For a while there he just willed us to stretch out that lead."

Ferryman wasn't the only one who extended the advantage.

Luke Stano also contributed a couple baskets, while Jake Szczecina banked in a halfcourt three-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer.

"That (three) certainly relaxed us," said Crampsie. "It's funny. Yesterday at the end of practice Jake was taking them from halfcourt and knocking them down. I said if we need that tomorrow be sure to dial one up. He reminded me of that at the end of the third quarter ... That was a huge momentum shift for us. Our kids certainly fed off of that."

While the trey contributed to Panther Valley's winning stretch, it also damaged the Olympians' chance at an upset.

"It was a great effort, and I'm proud of them," said JT mentor Grant Whary, whose club opened the contest by grabbing an 11-8 first-quarter lead. "They're giving it all they've got and I can't be dissapointed with that. It's tough because they bust their tails out there ... and then they make a halfcourt shot like that. There's nothing you can do about that.

"The last time we played Panther Valley Szczecina had nine threes and we were in a 2-3 (zone). So tonight we thought we'd go man-to-man. Jordan McElmoyle did a heckuva job on him in the first half ... I think it was a case of us just running out of gas."

Szczecina finished with 15 points after being held scoreless through the first two frames and Stano added nine. For Thorpe (2-13; 1-6), Shane Snisky hit for 19 and Bryce Micciche tallied 17.

"They're a much-improved team than what they were earlier in the year," said Crampsie. "It was a game that was very scary. It's a rivalry game and we knew we were going to get their best effort. And they certainly brought it."

In the JV game, the Panthers earned a 39-33 win. Matt Hudicka had 13 points for PV while Ethan Vermillion added 12. For Thorpe, Brett Luciano had eight.

JIM THORPE

Carroll 0-0-0-0, Principe 1-0-0-2, B. Micciche 6-5-7-17, Lawrence 1-0-0-2, C. Micciche 0-0-0-0, McElmoyle 3-0-0-8, O. Snisky 1-0-0-2, S. Snisky 8-3-7-19, Jefferson 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 20-8-14-50.

PANTHER VALLEY

Dubosky 1-0-0-2, Szczecina 6-2-2-15, Keo 2-0-0-4, Kusko 3-2-2-8, Stano 4-0-2-9, Owens 0-0-0-0, Hudicka 1-0-0-3, Horan 1-0-0-2, Weng 1-0-0-2, Ferryman 7-7-10-21, Nase 0-3-6-3. TOTALS: 26-14-22-69.

Jim Thorpe 11 8 17 14 - 50

Panther Vy. 8 20 16 25 - 69

Three-pointers: Jim Thorpe - McElmoyle 2; Panther Vy. - Stano 1, Szczecina 1, Hudicka 1.