Northern Lehigh was dominant. Lehighton was resilient. They were both triumphant
The Bulldogs and Indians took totally different paths, but both arrived at the same destination. The two teams will meet tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the championship game of the 10th Annual Lady Indian Holiday Classic.
Northern Lehigh jumped on Jim Thorpe early and breezed to a 53-20 victory. Lehighton rallied from a seven-point third quarter deficit to edge Palmerton, 43-39.
In the opener, Northern Lehigh held Jim Thorpe without a field goal for more than 19 minutes to start the game. By the time Hilary Reis finally converted the Olympians' first basket with 4:38 left in the third quarter, the Bulldog lead was 41-9.
"I thought we played very well," said No. Lehigh coach Dave Oertner. "We were solid on both ends of the floor."
The Bulldogs were especially impressive during the first half as they built a 32-3 lead behind the play of their "Twin Towers." Sonya Josephson, who stands 6-0, scored 14 points in the half and Aimee Oertner, who is 6-2, added 11 points.
"Sonya and Aimee have a lot of skills," said Oertner. "They aren't just big kids, they are pretty good basketball players."
Josephson, Oertner and the Bulldogs certainly impressed Jim Thorpe coach Rob Kovac.
"First off, give Northern Lehigh a lot of credit. That is a heck of a team," he said. "They are fundamentally sound and their two big girls are very good. They gave us a ton of problems.
"On the other hand, we were awful. We were a train wreck in the first half. I know we are so much better than we played tonight."
Josephson finished with 22 points and Oertner added 16 points for Northern Lehigh, which improved to 7-0 with the victory.
"On defense, we did a great job playing man-to-man," said coach Oertner. "We pressured them into turnovers on the perimeter and then blocked or changed a lot of their shots when they tried to go to the basket.
"Offensively, I was really pleased with our passing and unselfish play. We did a fantastic job of finding the open man against both their pressure and their halfcourt zone."
Reis led Jim Thorpe (0-4) with eight points.
In the nightcap, Jordyn Homyak ignited Lehighton's fourth quarter comeback and Vanessa Rimbey added two huge baskets down the stretch as Lehighton avenged a season-opening double-digit loss to Palmerton.
With her team trailing 36-30 early in the final period, Homyak scored eight points in a span of less then three minutes to put the Indians ahead, 38-37.
After a Kelsey Hay layup returned the lead to the Bombers with just over two minutes remaining, Rimbey hit a pair of driving layups to give Lehighton the lead for good.
"Jordyn has the ability to take over a game and she did that in the fourth quarter," said Lehighton coach Tony Thomas. "I think once she gave our offense a lift, we responded on the defensive end.
"We did a nice job keeping them off the board (the Bombers had just four points) in the fourth quarter."
Despite going almost six minutes before getting a field goal in the final quarter, Palmerton still had several opportunities to down the stretch to pull it out before Lauren McCullion's free throw with :16 to play finally iced it.
"We were 0-for-7 from the foul line down the stretch," said Palmerton coach Don Delich. "You aren't going to win close games by doing that. Give Lehighton credit. Homyak took over in the fourth quarter to bring them back and Rimbey did a nice job as well.
"But we made a lot of mistakes. In addition to our foul shooting in the fourth quarter, we played poorly on the defensive end. We let Homyak and Rimbey consistently take the ball to the basket without anyone stepping in to help out."
Homyak finished with 20 points to lead Lehighton (2-2). Rimbey added 11.
"This was a nice win for us," said Thomas. "I thought we played some of our best defense of the season in the fourth quarter and we committed just seven turnovers in the game after averaging almost 20 in our first three games.
"We also have Vanessa (Rimbey) and Karista (Schweizer) back in the lineup now after playing the first few games without them.
"Now we have to build on this performance."
LeVan 0-0-0-0, Bastardi 3-0-0-6, Moore 0-0-0-0, Barnett 0-0-0-0, Stauffer 0-0-0-0, Harakal 0-0-0-0, Werley 0-0-0-0, L. Oertner 2-1-2-5, Josephson 10-1-4-22, A. Oertner 6-4-6-16, Howell 2-0-0-4, Seiler 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 23-6-12-53.
McElmoyle 2-0-1-4, Lawrence 0-2-2-2, Reis 1-6-6-8, Holland 0-2-6-2, Robinson 0-0-0-0, Mosteller 0-0-0-0, Smelas 1-2-2-4. TOTALS: 4-12-18-20.
No. Lehigh 14 18 15 6 - 53
Jim Thorpe 0 3 8 9 - 20
Three-pointers: NL – Josephson 1, . JT – None.
Smith 0-0-0-0, Reimer 0-1-2-1, Romano 3-0-0-7, Rinfret 5-0-3-12, Farquhar 1-0-2-2, Snyder 0-0-0-0, Hay 5-7-12-17. TOTALS: 14-8-9-39
Locker 0-0-0-0, Homyak 9-0-1-20, Green 0-0-0-0, McCullion 1-1-3-3, Smith 1-0-0-2, Schweizer 1-0-2-2, Rimbey 5-1-2-11, Teno 0-0-0-0, White 2-1-4-5. TOTALS: 19-3-12-43.
Palmerton 11 12 12 4 - 39
Lehighton 12 6 12 13 - 43
Three-pointers: P – Rinfret 2, Romano 1. L – Homyak 2