Panther Valley expected to see the pressure.
The Panthers anticipated it so much that they prepared for Jim Thorpe's defensive attack for three straight days.
All that preparation didn't help, however, as Jim Thorpe's fullcourt 1-3-1 defense created numerous problems for Panther Valley.
The pressure produced the Olympians' first win of the season on Monday, a 51-35 Schuylkill League Division I triumph.
The Olympians, who stuck to the same defensive format for the entire 32 minutes, forced the Panthers into 27 turnovers in the game.
"The first half we did a good job handling their pressure," said Panther Calley coach Josh Wank. "We got a lot of good looks off it. We were able to reverse the ball and attack it. The second half was a different story.
"Unfortunately, our young guards got rattled a little bit. I give a lot of credit to Jim Thorpe. They took advantage of that and they were able to convert our turnovers into points."
While the Olympians turned the ball over 20 times themselves, head coach Rob Kovac was happy with the bottom line.
"We try to keep the kids positive," Kovac said. "We talked about the records of the first five opponents we faced. Pine Grove, North Schuylkill, Tamaqua and Northern Lehigh were all unbeaten heading into tonight and Palmerton had just two losses.
"We talked about remaining true to what our goals were. I think now we're on our way."
The Olympians (1-5 overall; 1-2 league) escaped with a 11-9 lead after the opening quarter, which included three lead changes and two ties.
The second quarter started off with the Olympians and Panthers exchanging the lead five times throughout the first four minutes. Olympian sophomore Chelsea Smelas took the ball into her own hands the next four minutes as Thorpe built a seven-point lead late in the half. Smelas scored 10 points in the quarter, but Dana McFadden did her one better with 11 points in the period as Panther Valley stayed close at halftime.
It got even better for the Olympians in the third quarter as they utilized the 1-3-1 zone to perfection forcing the Panthers (2-3; 0-2) into eight turnovers. While Demi Ogozalek's inside jumper was the Panthers' lone bucket, Hillary Reis had 10 points for Jim Thorpe in the quarter as it opened a double digit lead and maintained it the rest of the way.
"I would be remised if we didn't talk about the job that Brittany Holland did tonight in the second half," Kovac said. "She's not our point guard because Celeste Robinson (who missed the last three games with a knee injury), is usually our point guard. To put a kid like Britt at the point in the second half, when they're playing man on the ball, and see her dish out all those assists is phenomenal.
"We have been waiting for Britt to explode offensively and she didn't necessarily do that in the scoring column, but she did it in every other aspect of the game tonight."
In the JV game, Jim Thorpe came out on top with a 35-30 win. The Olympians' Chasity Mosteller had 13 points. Trayvonda Rice led the Panthers with 12.
Gates 0-0-0-0, McFadden 5-4-8-16, A. Markovich 0-2-3-2, O. Markovich 0-0-3-0, Cullen 1-1-1-3, Ogozalek 3-0-0-7, Cunfer 1-0-2-2, Zlock 2-1-2-5, Thomas 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 12-8-18-35.
McElmoyle 1-2-2-5, Batts 0-0-0-0, Lawrence 3-0-2-9, Reis 5-3-4-13, Holland 2-2-2-6, Mosteller 0-0-0-0, Ventrella 0-0-0-0, Smelas 9-0-5-18. TOTALS: 20-7-15-51.
Panther Valley 9 13 3 10 – 35
Jim Thorpe 11 17 11 12 – 51
Three-pointers: PV – McFadden 2, Ogozalek 1; JT – Lawrence 3, McElmoyle 1.