The game plan seems simple.
Executing it, however, is a different story.
For one half Friday night, Panther Valley was able to do what it does best get the ball inside to their 6-5 standout Logan Stano. Unfortunately for the Panthers, the second half was a different story.
Visiting Blue Mountain upped its defense in the paint, and without Stano getting as many touches, the Eagles rallied for a 49-42 Schuylkill League Division I victory.
"We stressed our defense working interior-out," said Eagle head coach Dustin Werdt. "We knew they wanted to get the ball into their big kids. We turned to our interior defense and also tried to limit them to one shot.
"He (Stano) is one of the better inside guys in our league. Everybody knows when he gets the ball in the paint he's going to score. Our goal was to prevent that. Our guards did a nice job of pressuring the ball because not only does that make it harder to get it into the post, but you can come up with steals and also force turnovers."
Blue Mountain's backcourt was at its best after PV gained it biggest lead.
Stano's 12 points in the opening half helped the hosts gain a narrow 24-20 lead. Thanks to three-pointers from Damian Lewis and Zach Stanko, the Panthers (8-4; 3-2) upped the margin to 34-25 with 1:35 left in the third quarter.
The pressure by the Eagles (5-5; 3-2) from that point on forced 10 turnovers in Panther Valley's next 15 possesssions.
"Give Blue Mountain credit," said PV mentor Pat Crampsie. "In most games throughout the year, we came out and wanted it more than the other team and that wasn't the case tonight. They kept clawing and fighting, and we went into panic mode there.
"When we went up nine, we had five turnovers in a two-minute span. We're not going to beat any team doing that. Most teams have pressured us and we've handled it well lately. We just panicked a bit. We also didn't move enough off the ball and let our guards hang out to dry."
With the Panthers struggling to just hold onto the ball, the Eagles' Mike Tobash brought his team back.
After being held scoreless for three quarters, Tobash exploded for nine points in the final frame. Teammate Mark Garrity put Blue Mountain ahead 44-42 with two minutes to play with an inside bucket and Tobash followed with four straight free throws.
"Mike had a great fourth quarter for us," said Werdt. "It's nice to see a kid come off the bench and contribute like that."
Matt Maloney led the Eagles with 12 points.
Stano finished with a game-high 18 while Lewis added nine points and seven rebounds.
"Logan is one of the best around, he's one of the best players in the league," said Crampsie. "Obviously other teams know that and they're going to game plan for that. He had a great game tonight, but we need to work to get him more touches."
Maloney 5-1-2-12, Hartranft 4-0-1-9, LaScala 1-5-6-7, Garrity 2-1-2-5, Cryts 2-3-6-7, Tobash 2-4-4-9, O'Brien 0-0-0-0, Freed 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 16-14-21-49.
Stanko 3-0-2-7, Ogozalek 0-0-0-0, Mathewson 0-0-0-0, Picht 1-0-0-2, Lewis 3-2-2-9, Mitchell 3-0-0-6, Ahner 0-0-0-0, Stano 9-0-0-18. TOTALS: 19-2-4-42.
Blue Mountain 15 5 12 17 - 49
Panther Valley 14 10 10 8 - 42
Three-pointers: BM - Maloney 1, Hartranft 1, Tobash 1; PV - Stanko 1, Lewis 1.