Jordyn Homyak said she was well aware of how important Tuesday's night game was for the Lehighton girls basketball team.
Her performance left little doubt that she was determined to do something about it.
Homyak scored a career-high 31 points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out six assists to lead Lehighton to a 65-56 Mountain Valley Conference victory over Pleasant Valley.
"We want to make the MVC playoffs and the District 11 playoffs," said Homyak. "Even though there is a lot of basketball still left to play, we knew how important this game was if we are going to reach those goals."
The Indians did that because Homyak was nearly unstoppable. She consistently broke down the Bear defense off the dribble which led to layups, short pull-up jumpers or nice feeds to open teammates.
"Jordyn is a great player and we're still not experienced enough as a team to do a lot of different things defensively," said rookie Pleasant Valley coach Nadia Gauronsky. "We stayed with our base defense for the most part and she did a nice job of scoring against it."
Lehighton led almost the entire way, grabbing a 9-7 lead with just over two minutes left in the opening quarter and never surrendering it.
In spite of that, the Indians (5-5, 3-2) were never able to put Pleasant Valley away. On nine occasions during the game, the Bears were within a possession of either tying the score or taking the lead, but they never did.
"It was a game that even though we were leading almost the entire way, we were never able to get to a point where it felt comfortable," said Lehighton coach Tony Thomas. "On one hand, it's disappointing because you want to be able to put teams away when you get the opportunity. But on the other hand, I was proud of how our girls found a way to fight off every run they made and never lose the lead."
On two occasions during the second half, the Lehighton lead reached double figures. The Indians were up 41-31 with 3:42 left in the third quarter before the Bears' Amber Chieffo, Kelecia Harris, Kasey Meckes and Megan Hardy all scored within a 43 second span to quickly close the gap.
Leading just 49-47 early in the final period, Lehighton used six Homyak free throws and a couple of baskets by Karista Schweizer to eventually push the lead back to 61-50 with less than two minutes remaining.
Pleasant Valley made one last run, getting to within 61-56 on a Chieffo layup with :31 to play. But Homyak and Sheena White nailed free throws down the stretch to finally seal the outcome.
"This game was ours for the taking," said Gauronsky. "We had so many chances, but you can't miss 16 foul shots and as many layups as we did and expect to win. That just killed us.
"If we just make a few of those it changes the whole complexion of the game."
In addition to Homyak's big night, the Indians also got 14 points and 11 rebounds from White.
"This was a win we needed," said Thomas. "If you look at what we've done so far and who we have left on our schedule, you realize the importance of us taking care of business tonight.
"We're using a number of kids that didn't have much varsity experience heading into this season, so we need people like Jordyn and Sheena, who have that varsity experience, to lead us. Jordyn was amazing tonight and Sheena made some big play as well. It was a big win."
Meckes and Harris had 16 points apiece for Pleasant Valley (2-8, 1-3).
Meckes 8-0-7-16, Mowery 0-1-2-1, Chieffo 4-0-0-9, Sisco 0-1-2-1, Harris 6-4-10-16, McGill 0-2-2-2, Hardy 3-2-2-8, Kregeloh 0-0-0-0, Salmon1-1-2-3. TOTALS: 22-11-27-56.
Homyak 10-11-19-31, Green 0-2-4-2, McCullion 1-0-0-2, Smith 2-1-2-6, Schweizer 3-0-0-6, Teno 2-0-2-4, White 5-4-6-14. TOTALS: 23-18-33-65
Pleasant Vy. 11 14 20 11 - 56
Lehighton 15 15 19 16 - 65
Three-pointers: PV – Chieffo. L- Smith 1.