The game of basketball is often times decided by runs and momentum. In last night's Colonial League battle between Northern Lehigh and Wilson, it was the Bulldogs who took advantage of the runs more effectively to pull out a 39-34 win.
The Bulldogs darted out of the gates with a 12-0 run and later had to withstand a 15-0 spurt by the Warriors, before holding on down the stretch for the victory.
"It was huge to get that early lead," Nolehi head coach Jeff Miller mentioned following the win. "We actually missed some opportunities during that stretch where it could have been more than that."
The Bulldogs utilized a full-court press, yielding several Wilson turnovers leading to easy points early. Josh Pristash had a steal and a lay-up and three pointer to highlight the spree. By the end of the first quarter, Northern Lehigh (13-1 overall, 8-1 CL) went up 16-3, as four points from Caleb Johnson aided the effort.
The two teams played pretty even in the second quarter, as Northern Lehigh outscored the Warriors 8-6 in the stanza, opening up a 24-9 halftime advantage. Johnson, who finished with 12 points and 17 rebounds, had six of the team's eight.
"We told the kids at halftime that we were down so much because we didn't run an offense in the first half and we weren't playing good defense," Wilson head coach Bob Frankenfield said. "We were shooting on the first or second pass and not really running an offense."
Frankenfield had to mention some other things during that intermission speech, because the Warriors came out with a vengeance, going on a 15-0 run. Wilson's full-court press brought out seven Northern Lehigh turnovers during the stretch that eventually tied the game at 24-24 with 2:50 left in the third quarter.
A Pristash three-pointer ended the drought and after a Gerald Terry lay-up for Wilson maintained the momentum, a Tyler Dibilio three-point play gave the winners a 30-26 lead entering the final eight minutes.
Ryan Spirko's lane jumper tied the game at 30-30, but the biggest play of the game ensued.
A Wilson lay-up attempt was swatted away by Northern Lehigh's Lucas Pierce back past half-court and when Wilson's guards attempted to corral the loose ball, a persistent Dibilio swept in, stoled it and converted a layup, giving his team momentum for the rest of the game.
"Tyler's play was all about hustle there," Miller mentioned. "That's the kind of effort we have come to expect from him every night."
Johnson's put-back and a baseline drive by Pierce maintained the lead and all but wrapped things up for the Bulldogs.
"This win was really big," Caleb Johnson admitted afterwards. "It keeps us near the top of the league standings and now we have to buckle down and keep battling."
Wilson was led in scoring by Daye-Shawn Bailey and Terry with nine each.
Northern Lehigh prevailed in the JV game, 51-39 on the strength of 22 points from Josh Eden.
Terry 3-2-2-9, Dailey 0-0-2-0, Bailey 4-1-2-9, Spirko 4-0-3-8, Healy 4-0-0-8, Smeltz 0-0-0-0, Pierfy 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 15-3-9-34.
George 0-1-2-1, Egan 0-0-0-0, Dibilio 3-1-2-8, J. P ristash 3-0-0-8, Glose 1-2-2-4, Eden 0-0-0-0, Landsberger 0-0-0-0, Johnson 6-0-1-12, Pierce 3-0-0-6. TOTALS: 16-4-7-39.
Wilson 3 6 17 8 - 34
No. Lehigh 16 8 6 9 - 39
Three pointers: W - Terry 1; NL - J. Pristash 2, Dibilio 1.