The last time the Northern Lehigh girls' basketball team lost to another Colonial League team was when it fell to Palmerton during the 2008-09 season.
Wednesday night, the Lady Bulldogs had a sour case of déjà vu.
After losing to Northern Lehigh in the championship game of the Lady Indian Holiday Classic, Palmerton exacted revenge on its home court and topped its rival 49-46. The Bombers trailed for only a few seconds throughout the night and cheered as Casey Rinfret blocked Aimee Oertner's last-second three-point attempt to tie the game.
"Last time we played (Northern Lehigh) we shot 4-for-29 in the second half and were 1-for-8 from the free throw line," said Palmerton head coach Don Delich. "So the difference between last week and this week was that we put the ball in the basket. We made jump shots, so they had to come out a little and that opened up the middle.
"I think the key was when they came back and took the lead. Other teams might have wilted, but we came right back down and re-took the lead. We didn't wilt. We finished during a televised girls' basketball game."
After a half in which they seemed completely out of sync, the Bulldogs found themselves down by just six points at the break. Things seemed to click much better at the start of the third quarter as they went on a 9-2 run to take their first lead of the ball game (30-29).
As Delich alluded to earlier, his Bomber team did not wilt or concede to the pressure. Katie Reimer came down the court on the very next possession and converted on a three-point play to give the lead back to Palmerton. She scored again on the Bombers' next trip and pushed the lead back to four. Palmerton would never trail again.
"We did not execute very well offensively," said Northern Lehigh head coach Dave Oertner. "We kept trying to do things that weren't there. I give Palmerton credit. We turned the ball over too much and it led to some easy points for them.
"If we turn it over trying to get the ball down low, then okay we can get back on defense. But our turnovers were back by half court and they were getting steals and layups. That will kill you."
Following a slow first half, the Bulldogs' Sonya Josephson came alive in the second half. She hit four three-pointers and brought her team back to within three with 55 seconds remaining. After alternating free throws from teammate Lauren Oertner and Palmerton's Kelsey Hay, Northern Lehigh was still down three with 27 seconds to go.
The 'Dawgs ran a play for Josephson with eight seconds to go, but she was double-teamed and had to drop the ball off to Aimee Oertner at the last second. Rinfret got her hand on the ball and Oertner was never able to get the shot off.
"We still had a chance at the end," said Oertner. "It's hard to get a shot off when we need a three with only a few seconds left on the clock. We thought we could sneak Aimee out for a three for the second option, but they were ready for it."
Aimee Oertner led Northern Lehigh with 18 points. Josephson added 17.
Reimer paced the Bombers with 14 points. Rinfret and Hay added 13 and 12 points respectively.
"This is a big win," confirmed Delich. "This is a big win against a quality team. It's no longer good enough to be close. We have higher aspirations and a win like tonight is a good shot in the arm.
"In this league is it about getting to the final four, so every game is important. None are more important than the others, although this is still Palmerton and Northern Lehigh."
Bastardi 1-0-0-2, L. Oertner 1-1-2-3, Josephson 6-1-1-17, A. Oertner 8-2-3-18, Seiler 3-0-0-6, Follweiler 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 19-4-6-46.
Rinfret 5-3-3-13, Hay 4-3-7-12, Reimer 6-2-3-14, Farquhar 1-2-2-4, Snyder 1-2-3-4, Smith 1-0-0-2. TOTALS: 18-12-18-49.
No. Lehigh 10 11 12 13 - 46
Palmerton 15 12 13 9 - 49
Three-Pointers: NL - Josephson 4; P - Hay 1.