Early on in its game against Lehighton, things weren't going as easy as the Northern Lehigh girls' basketball team would have liked.
Fortunately for the Lady Bulldogs, they got back to their bread-and-butter in the second half and ran away from the Lady Indians.
Northern Lehigh's three forwards Aimee Oertner, Sonya Josephson and Lauren Oertner combined to score 33 of the team's 39 second-half points and helped lead the Bulldogs to a 59-39 victory in the tenth annual Lady Indian Holiday Classic championship game on Tuesday.
"We struggled offensively in the first half because we were trying to force some things instead of being a little more patient," said Northern Lehigh head coach Dave Oertner. "We wanted to get the ball on the block, but we were trying to put it there before it was ready to be put there - if that makes any sense.
"In the second half we did a better job of that. We got the ball down low and most teams don't have the size to deal with us. They can match up with Aimee or Lauren or maybe with Sonya, but to try and match up with all three of them is hard."
Aimee Oertner scored 15 of her game-high 21 points in the second half and did most of her damage either on the block or driving through the lane. She also added 11 rebounds, six blocks and three steals. She would later be named the MVP of the tournament.
Josephson lent a helping hand as well, as she finished with 19 points. She connected on two well-executed three-pointers in the third and fourth quarters to stretch the Bulldogs' lead to as many as 18.
The two of them, along with Lauren Oertner, made up for nearly 75 percent of Northern Lehigh's scoring on the night.
"Aimee and Sonya carry our offensive load most nights," said Oertner. "Last year Sonya was a stand alone shooter, but now she has become a complete player and is starting to learn how to play the whole game."
Jordyn Homyak kept the Indians (2-3) close in the first half. While she only tallied six of her team-high 16 points through the first two quarters, she did a great job of distributing the ball which allowed the Indians to stay within two points at the break.
However, things got away for the Indians in the second half. Northern Lehigh (8-0) came out of the break and immediately went down low to its big men four possessions in a row. The Bulldogs got eight points out of those four possessions within the first two-and-a-half minutes of play.
"We pretty much learned that we have to do better at boxing out and keeping girls off the boards," said Lehighton head coach Tony Thomas. "We have to get more girls involved than they have been. We did a little bit of that tonight with girls coming off the bench to release some of the pressure off Jordyn, but we still tend to heavily rely on her.
"As far as keeping girls off the boards, Northern Lehigh is an outstanding team and they are going to be tough to beat down the stretch. Realistically I think we did all we could in the first half. It just got away from us in the second half."
Josephson, Homyak, Kelsey Hay and Kristen Romano of Palmerton, and Brittany Holland of Jim Thorpe were named to the All-Tournament team.
Levan 2-0-0-4, Bastardi 3-2-2-9, Stauffer 0-0-0-0, Harakal 0-0-0-0, Werley 0-0-0-0, L. Oertner 2-0-0-4, Josephson 7-3-5-19, A. Oertner 10-1-4-21, Howell 1-0-0-2, Seiler 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 25-6-11-59.
Locker 0-0-0-0, Homyak 8-0-1-16, Green 0-1-4-1, Barclay 1-0-0-2, McCullion 0-0-0-0, Evans 0-0-0-0, Smith 2-0-2-4, Schweizer 3-2-2-8, Rimbey 0-2-2-2, Teno 1-0-0-2, White 1-1-2-3. TOTALS: 16-6-13-38.
No. Lehigh 9 11 19 20 - 59
Lehighton 8 10 8 12 - 38
Three-Pointers: NL - Josephson 2, Bastardi; L - None.