Northern Lehigh's girls basketball team knows that each and every time they step on the court during the final week of the season, finding a way to get a win will be of paramount importance.
Last night, Pen Argyl came to town and the mission was clear from the beginning. After staving off plenty of challenges from their opponents, the Bulldogs pulled out a much-needed 44-38 win to keep their District 11 playoff hopes intact.
"This win keeps those hopes alive," No. Lehigh coach Dave Oertner said. "We have a tough one tomorrow against a strong Blue Mountain team, but this win at least gave us a little margin for error."
The Lady 'Dawgs (9-10 overall, 6-8 CL) need to win two of their final three games to qualify for districts. They finish with Blue Mountain (Saturday), Catasauqua (Tuesday) and Palmerton (Thursday)
No. Lehigh got a huge play from senior point guard and floor general, Tina Bastardi late in the game to preserve the win. With 1:27 left on the clock, teammate Aimee Oertner made the front end of two foul shots, and following the miss of the second, Bastardi seemingly swooped in and snared the rebound. She was fouled and went to the line to put her team up three.
"That play was huge," Oertner commended. "After that point, we felt a little better about our lead."
In the fourth quarter, NL got all 11 of their points from the foul line, as they shot 11-for-14 in that decisive frame.
Early on, the game was back-and-forth, as both teams battled for the victory evenly. Oertner's four points in the first gave her team an 8-5 lead after one, before Samm Firestone went off in the second. She scored 11 of her team-high 17 in that session, keeping Pen Argyl within 25-21 at the break. Oertner's seven points and Bastardi's six kept the halftime edge in favor of the hosts.
"Give Firestone credit," Coach Oertner mentioned. "She made some huge shots early to keep them in it."
The second half started out with a 8-0 Pen Argyl run, giving it a 29-25 edge. However, Bastardi, who led all scorers on the night with 20 points, nailed consecutive threes to give her squad back the lead.
Firestone hit two charity tosses with 4:42 left to give the visitors one more lead, but the Bulldogs stole it back shortly after and never relinquished it.
With the loss, Pen Argyl drops to 6-8 in the league and 9-10 overall.
Pen Argyl prevailed in the JV contest, 34-14.
Presby 1-0-0-2, Clause 0-0-0-0, Firestone 5-6-6-17, Cinelli 5-0-0-13, Frey 0-0-0-0, Mennell 0-0-0-0, Oyer 0-0-0-0, Beckage 2-0-0-6. TOTALS: 13-6-6-38.
Follweiler 2-0-2-4, Hams 1-2-2-4, Bastardi 5-8-13-20, Weil 0-0-0-0, Olewine 0-0-0-0, Oertner 3-10-14-16. TOTALS: 11-20-31-44.
Pen Argyl 5 16 10 7 - 38
No. Lehigh 8 17 8 11 - 44
Three pointers: PA – Cinelli 3, Beckage 2, Firestone 1; NL – Bastardi 2.