For the first 26 minutes of Saturday night's District 11 Class AAA quarterfinal, Palmerton had powerful Allentown Central Catholic on the ropes.
A three-point Bomber lead with six minutes remaining in the game proved to test the Vikettes and push them to come up with something more.
ACC, the tourney's No. 1 seed and the Lehigh Valley Conference champs, showed its mettle by doing exactly that. The Vikettes regained the lead and went on to win, 45-37, and advance to the semifinals against Southern Lehigh.
"Give Don (Delich) and Palmerton a lot of credit," Central Catholic head coach Mike Kopp said. "They came out with their game plan and it worked."
Led by senior center Kelsey Hay, and freshman point guard Jade Farquhar, Palmerton entered the contest having won six of its last eight games. Their intelligence and unselfishness was apparent throughout that span and showed in this contest as well.
However, senior guard Jenna Kocsis and the rest of the highly touted Vikettes, came up with 'the goods' in order to pull off the come-from-behind win. The victors (24-1), scored 22 points in the fourth quarter in order to pull away from the pesky Palmerton team.
"We have four seniors on our team and I think they might have put some extra pressure on themselves," Kopp said. "As everyone was aware, the loser of the quarterfinal game has their season ended.
"We seemed to be a little out of sync tonight and we settled for threes on a lot of possessions."
A Kocsis trey from the corner opened up the game's scoring, but the blue and white reeled off a 10-0 run. Hay began the run with a jumper from the elbow and Farquhar's beautiful spin move produced a finger roll lay-up. Three consecutive lay-ups off nice assists gave the Bombers a 10-3 lead. Kerry Kinek's put-back and another Kocsis trey made it 10-8 after one.
In the second, Hay's turnaround in the lane padded the Palmerton lead, only to see Kocsis' five give her squad a 19-16 advantage at the break.
The third quarter saw the Bombers hold Central Catholic to only four points, as their defense stifled their opponent and ACC's shooting woes continued. Meanwhile, four points from Morgan Mummey and three from Hay saw Palmerton retake the lead at 25-23 through three.
Hay persisted with some unstoppable moves, yielding free throws, which she took full advantage of down the stretch to score 10 points in the fourth frame. But it wouldn't be enough, as nine points from Kocsis and seven from Kinek (including a lay-up at the buzzer), brought the end result.
Palmerton's 20 turnovers proved to be too much to recover from as every other statistical category was even or in Palmerton's favor.
For the game, the Bombers shot 50 percent from the floor and 76 percent from the foul line. Palmerton actually outrebounded the taller Vikettes, 29-26. But the aggressive, full-court, man-to-man defense of the Vikettes consistently caused problems for Palmerton in their attempts to run a fluent offense.
For the Bombers (14-10), their up-and-down season has come to an end, leaving head coach Delich emotional. "I thought Kelsey Hay played a tremendous game against two big girls inside," he said. "Jen [Snyder] was also great, playing a solid all-around game."
For the game, Kocsis led all scorers with 20 points.
Palmerton got 17 points from Hay and 10 from Farquhar.
Ma. Mummey 0-0-0-0, Farquhar 4-2-4-10, Mo. Mummey 3-0-0-6, Meinhart 1-0-1-2, Snyder 1-0-0-2, Hay 3-11-12-17. TOTALS: 12-13-17-37.
Roseman 0-0-0-0, Mack 2-1-2-6, Hollawell 2-0-0-4, Guman 1-0-0-2, Sandherr 0-0-0-0, Kocsis 7-1-2-20, Kinek 5-1-4-11, Fronheiser 1-0-0-2. TOTALS: 18-3-9-45.
Palmerton 10 6 9 12 - 37
Central Catholic 8 11 4 22 - 45
Three pointers: Palmerton – none; ACC – Kocsis 5, Mack 1.