It has been a rough season for the Lehighton boys' basketball team.
Unfortunately for the Indians, it didn't get any easier Tuesday night.
One night after matching the Jim Thorpe Olympians for three quarters, Lehighton was manhandled by the Pleasant Valley Bears. The Bears slowly but surely built a big first-half lead and never looked back, as they went on to win 56-27 in Mountain Valley Conference play.
"We started kind of slow and were a little sluggish with the ball," said Pleasant Valley head coach Ken Piontkowski. "We were sloppy at first, but then we played fairly good defense and Lehighton didn't score much.
"Nick Stanovick hit a couple of threes and Mike Sharpe got a couple of put-backs. It wasn't really a spurt. It was kind of a slow progression where we ended up coming into halftime up 19."
Pleasant Valley (5-5, 2-2) proved to be too much for Lehighton to handle on the boards. Sharpe got a number of put-backs on missed shots. At the same time, Stanovick connected on three big three-pointers that helped the Bears stretch their lead.
"They were just bigger and stronger than us," said Lehighton dead coach Mike O'Brien. "They had it going for them both inside and outside. I don't think we came to play tonight."
Sharpe, a junior, had 12 of his game-high 21 points in the first two quarters. He then added nine in the third quarter before sitting out most of the fourth.
Stanovick, a sophomore who saw time last year as a freshman, added 17.
"Sharpe has been doing pretty well," said Piontkowski. "He shoots a lot of jump shots so when he is on he's good. I've been trying to get him to mix things up inside more. Obviously Lehighton was small so it was easier for him to get in there, but at least he had the mindset of getting inside and getting to the line."
Lehighton's main course of offense as of late has been the three-pointer. After making 11 triples on Monday against Jim Thorpe, the Indians converted on just two attempts on Tuesday both of them from DJ Rossino. They had their fair share of good looks, but just couldn't get any of them to go down.
"We don't have an inside game, so we have to shoot from the outside," said O'Brien. "We have to shoot and hopefully bring the defense out so we can get a couple of looks inside. The ball just didn't drop."
Lehighton (0-11, 0-5) was led by Hearth Markley and his 10 points. Rossino added eight.
As for the Bears, they have gotten back to .500 for the first time all season. One of Piontkowski's goals every year is to qualify for the district playoffs. While Pleasant Valley has half of the season left and would qualify if the playoffs started today, Piontkowski believes his team will continue to get better as the year wears on.
"I think we can keep getting better," Piontkowski said. "Other than the Hazleton game, every game has been pretty much the same. We've been in every game and we have had a chance to make some plays. Some games we made the plays, some of the games we didn't.
"Still, I think there is a lot of room for improvement. Some guys, like Allen Conklin and Stanovick, are getting better and they will only get better with more experience. They have been learning as we go, so I think the up-side for us is good."
Hill 0-0-0-0, Keer 2-0-0-4, Rossino 3-0-0-8, Kresge 0-1-2-1, Markley 4-2-3-10, Matika 0-0-0-0, Szacska 0-0-0-0, Evans 1-0-0-2, Edgar 0-0-2-0, Guyn 0-0-2-0, Angst 0-0-0-0, Scott 0-2-2-2. TOTALS: 10-5-11-27
McQuay 1-0-0-2, Conklin 0-0-0-0, Sharpe 9-3-3-21, Biney 1-0-0-3, Kregeloh 1-0-2-2, Irving 1-0-0-2, Garcia 1-0-0-2, Stanovick 6-2-2-17, Wild 2-0-0-4, Z. Knudsen 0-0-0-0, Castner 0-0-0-0, Williams 0-0-0-0, Bok 0-0-0-0, C. Knudsen 0-0-0-0, Blot 0-3-3-3. TOTALS: 22-8-10-56.
Lehighton 7 5 7 8 - 27
Pleasant Vy 13 18 19 6 - 56
Three-Pointers: Lehighton - Rossino 2; Pleasant Valley - Stanovick 3, Biney 1.