This year's New York Giants football team showed getting hot at the end of the season is a definite recipe for success. The Tamaqua Lady Raiders just might be following that same plan as they continued their impressive late-season run with a 50-48 Schuylkill League Division 1 win over Jim Thorpe (19-3).
Tamaqua (15-7) has had its struggles this season, mostly early on when they were sitting at 1-4 and around the mid-point of the year when they were hovering around .500 at 9-7. The Lady Raiders however, have bounced back ending the season on a six-game win streak and earning victories in eight of their last nine contests.
"The girls simply just stayed the course," said Tamaqua coach Joe Berezwick. "It's not how you start it's how you finish and the credit has to go to my staff and the kids. All year long we've played good defense and the girls are just starting to move the ball around and play well. They're just great kids who are athletic and have good basketball instincts."
The Lady Raiders defense didn't disappoint once again, but instead of coming out in their usual man-to-man defense Tamaqua tried a 2-3 zone. Berezwick's move worked and the Lady Olympians struggled to score in the half-court. Celeste Robinson was the lone offensive weapon it seemed all night for Thorpe scoring 33 out of their 48 points.
"The first time around we played them man-to-man and Celeste tore us apart and Smelas had a real good game too," said Berezwick. "We came out in the 2-3 with the intent of not letting Smelas hurt us and it ended up working. We knew Robinson would get her points, but we really needed to take away scoring opportunities from their other contributors."
Tamaqua also had their fair share of big shots on the evening. None bigger than at the end of the third quarter when Christine Streisel stole a pass at mid-court and drained a three as time expired giving Tamaqua a three-point edge going into the fourth quarter. Thorpe had played well in the quarter and seemed to have momentum going in their favor before Streisel silenced the Olympian's efforts.
"That Streisel three was huge for them," said Jim Thorpe coach Rob Kovac. "I thought we were playing well in the quarter and we weren't in control of the game, but it was definitely starting to swing in our favor. Then boom after a silly mistake we're back where we started at the beginning of the second half."
Even with Thorpe's offensive woes Robinson made things interesting in the fourth. With JT down 41-33 at the 5:00 minute mark Robinson completed back-to-back three-point plays to bring the Olympians within two. Jim Thorpe would continue to try and take the lead numerous time throughout the quarter, but Tamaqua answered every Thorpe attempt.
For Tamaqua Christine Streisel had 16 points including four three-pointers.
With the loss Jim Thorpe will now have to square off with Blue Mountain at Martz Hall tonight at 7 p.m. for the Schuylkill League Division 1 Championship. . The winner of the match-up will play Marian and the loser will play undefeated Tri-Valley in the league playoffs Wednesday.
McEmoyle 1-0-0-3, Batts 0-0-0-0, Lawrence 2-0-0-6, Robinson 14-4-5-33, Mosteller 0-0-0-0, Ennis 0-0-0-0, Smelas 2-2-2-6. TOTALS: 19-6-7-48.
Hope 3-3-4-9, Trainer 0-0-0-0, Kabilko 1-0-0-2, M. Streisel 1-5-6-7, C. Streisel 5-2-2-16, Valasek 3-0-0-7, A. Solt 4-1-1-9. TOTALS: 17-11-13-50.
Jim Thorpe 11 8 12 17 - 48
Tamqua 15 7 12 16 - 50
Three-pointers: JT - Lawrence 2, Robinson 1; T - C. Streisel 4, Valasek 1.