The way the game started, North Schuylkill looked like it was going to run away with Monday night's Schuylkill League girls' basketball game. However, the Lady Olympians battled back and took the Lady Spartans to the wire before dropping a 37-35 decision.
After the visitors jumped out to a 15-4 advantage after one quarter, things looked bleak for the Olympians. But they outscored North Schuylkill 15-4 in the second frame to tie things up at the break.
"We definitely battled back against a good team," Jim Thorpe coach Rob Kovac said. "We had some really good defensive pressure later in the game and that worked for us. We had our chances but you have to give credit to North Schuylkill because they played some great defense, too."
In the second quarter, the Lady Olympians converted some North Schuylkill turnovers into easy points as they rallied to tie the game at 19-19.
"We have to give a lot of credit to Jim Thorpe because they definitely showed up to play hard," North Schuylkill coach Paul Olson said. "They converted on our turnovers to get back into the game."
North Schuylkill opened up some breathing room in the third quarter, but down the stretch things got interesting.
Hilary Reis converted a three-point play and followed with a jumper from the foul line to cut the North Schuylkill lead to 31-28 with just under five minutes to play. Abby Noble's layup and Kendall Devaney's steal and layup ballooned the lead back up to to 35-28 with four minutes to go.
That is when Thorpe's Kristin Lawrence came into play. Up to that point, the streaky shooter was 0-for-7 from three-point land. But in the span of forty seconds, Lawrence hit two treys and the Spartan lead was 35-34 with 3:18 remaining. Reis then converted a free throw to tie things up.
North Schuylkill regained the lead when Carissa Rupinski nailed two charity tosses with :25 to go.
Jim Thorpe brought the ball down the court and was fouled, but it failed to convert a one-and-one opportunity with :11 to play and the Spartans ran out the clock.
"It was a war," Kovac quipped. "We made some mistakes down the stretch with failing to box out, missing rebounds, and missing some free throws, but our kids played hard and I'm proud of them."
The loss erases Jim Thorpe's margin for error the rest of the way. With four games remaining in the regular season, the Lady Olympians (7-11, 3-7) need to win them all in order to qualify for the District 11 Tournament.
"Good things are going to happen for these girls," Kovac said. "We have a realistic shot at winning out."
Reis had a game-high 13 points to lead Jim Thorpe. Celeste Robinson added 10.
North Schuylkill prevailed in the JV contest with a 43-38 win.
Deeter 1-0-2-2, Noble 3-0-0-6, Devaney 5-0-0-10, Teter 0-0-0-0, Snyder 0-0-0-0, Temple 1-0-0-2, Weikel 2-2-2-6, Yesalusky 1-0-0-2, Rupinski 3-2-2-9. TOTALS: 16-4-6-37.
McElmoyle 1-0-0-2, Lawrence 2-0-1-6, Reis 4-5-7-13, Holland 1-0-0-2, Robinson 5-0-0-10, Smelas 0-2-4-2. TOTALS: 13-7-12-35.
No. Schuylkill 15 4 10 8 - 37
Jim Thorpe 4 15 4 12 - 35
Three pointers: NS - Rupinski; JT - Lawrence 2.