One of the greatest things about high school basketball is how fast you can turn around a performance that leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
Saturday, the Northern Lehigh boys basketball team took a trip up to Blue Mountain only to lose the game 54-39. Lucas Pierce, the Bulldogs' 6-foot-6 inch sophomore center, highlighted the disappointing effort with just four points.
"We challenged Luke," Bulldog head coach Jeff Miller said. "He accepted the challenge and played very well."
Pierce bounced back with a 21-point, 12-rebound performance in leading his team to a 61-43 thrashing of Colonial League rival Southern Lehigh.
The game started with an immediate foul to put Southern Lehigh at the line in the first few seconds of the game. That was followed by a steal and a layup by the Spartan's Chris Mobley (18 points) to give Southern Lehigh a quick 3-0 lead.
Northern Lehigh responded with a 15-3 run for the rest of the quarter. Devin Glose drove the lane for two to start the spurt and Jordan Waylen followed with a trey to give Northern Lehigh the lead for good.
With the Northern Lehigh up 7-5, Pierce took over the game, scoring eight straight points in the paint. After scoring the first basket of the second quarter, Pierce gave Northern Lehigh a commanding 17-6 edge.
"Saturday we really couldn't finish but we played good defense," Pierce said. "Tonight we wanted to focus on making our layups and finishing around the basket."
Despite cold shooting and an abundance of turnovers by the Spartans, Northern Lehigh held just a 29-18 halftime edge.
Southern Lehigh, who had won six of the last seven games, came out to make a game of it. An Alan Rockel layup was followed by a Mobley steal and three point play. Fifteen second into the second half, Northern Lehigh's lead was cut to six.
That is as close as it got. Baskets by Glose and Waylen gave the Bulldogs some breathing room.
When Pierce added a put back the lead back up to twelve. Southern Lehigh tried in vane to wrestle momentum from the Bulldogs but their hopes of a comeback were squashed with a score by Caleb Johnson and trey by Waylen (13 points) to give the Bulldogs a 40-25 lead.
"We stumbled coming out to start the second half, but we came back with a run of our own to re-establish our lead," said Miller. "That shows how far we've matured. Earlier in the year, we may have buckled under the pressure."
The win pushed the Bulldogs (10-4, 6-3) closer to a post-season berth while Southern Lehigh dropped to 7-9, 5-5.
"This was a big win. We are still hoping for an outside chance of Colonial League playoffs," Miller said. "It also helps our confidence. We're a young ball club but we are growing up."
Lee 2-0-0-5, Festa 0-1-2-1, Mobley 6 4-5-18, Leddy 0-0-0-0, Rockel 3-1-2-7, McCrory 2-0-0-5, Anderson 0-0-0-0, Wagner 0-1-2-1, Terlingo 0-1-2-1, Shaheen 1-0-0-3, Stoudt 0-0-0-0, Amory 1-0-0-2, Gerhard 0-0-0-0. Totals 15-8-13-43.
Glose 3-3-4-9, Waylen 5-0-3-13, Malaska 0-0-0-0, Johnson 2-0-0-4, Pierce 9-3-4-21, Middaugh 2-1-1-5, Dibilio 1-4-4-6, George 1-1-2-3, Landsberger 0-0-0-0, Pristash 0-0-0-0, Rankin 0-0-0-0, Hofmann 0-0-0-0. Totals 23-12-18-61.
So. Lehigh 6 12 10 15 - 43
No. Lehigh 15 14 16 16 - 61
Three-pointers: SL - Mobley 2, Lee 1, McCrory 1, Shaheen 1; NL -Waylen 3.