The Northern Lehigh Bulldogs looked ready on Friday night.
Not only did they look ready, but they looked poised to upset the No. 1 seed out of District 2, the Abington Heights Comets.
The Bulldogs led 20-9 at the end of the first quarter, but a 22-4 second quarter run from the Comets ended Northern Lehigh's upset hopes and their season. Abington Heights used that run to their advantage and pulled out a 62-54 victory to advance to the second round of the PIAA Class AAA State Tournament.
The Bulldogs came out firing in the first quarter and center Lucas Pierce led the charge. Pierce shot 6-for- 7 from the field and scored 14 of Northern Lehigh's 20 points in the quarter. Everything was going the Bulldogs' way in the first, but what most sports enthusiasts will tell you is that basketball is a game of runs.
"We saw coming in that they liked to play a lot of match-up zone," said Northern Lehigh head coach Jeff Miller. "We told our guys to be patient, play with confidence, and our shots will fall."
As the old adage say "the show must go on."
That's exactly what Comets sophomore sensation JC Show did on Friday evening. Show, didn't get off to a great start, much like the Comets, but Show and his team turned up the intensity in the second quarter.
Show scored nine points in the frame and the Comets forced the Bulldogs to turn the ball over on 10 straight possessions en route to their 22-4 run. Pierce who only missed one shot in the previous quarter didn't even get a shot off in the second. The Bulldogs didn't score until the 1:35 mark.
"They really amped up their defensive pressure in the second quarter," said Miller. "They completely took us out of any type of set or anything we wanted to do on offense. Then you got a situation where instead of being up now you're down to a very god ball club."
Most teams after a quarter like that could have come into the third disheartened, but Northern Lehigh kept fighting. The Bulldogs kept it close throughout the third getting within one at the 2:32 mark after Lucas Pierce hit a pair of free throws. The comets stayed on top however, and led by two heading into the fourth.
"I couldn't be any prouder of the way we fought tonight," said Miller. "After that second quarter our kids could have played with their heads down, but they never gave up."
The fourth was another roller coaster of emotions that saw the Bulldogs actually taking the lead with 6:18 remaining. The one-point NL advantage came off a Lucas Pierce bucket inside where he was fouled and completed the three-point play from the charity stripe.
However, things took a turn for the worse when John Vassil converted a lay-up inside, followed by a Show three-pointer off a Bulldog turnover. Show's three ignited the Abington Heights crowd and from then on the comets controlled the ball game.
Lucas Pierce finished with 21 points and Devin Glose added 10 for Northern Lehigh.
Show led the Comets with 20, with Jason Bamford and TJ Murray chipping in with 12 and 10 points apiece.
George 1-2-2-5, Dibilio 1-1-3-4, Glose 3-4-6-10, Eden 0-0-0-0, Landsberger 0-0-2-0, Johnson 4-1-1-8, Pierce 8-5-5-21, Pristash 1-2-2-5. TOTALS: 18-15-21-54.
Calvey 0-3-4-3, Vassil 3-2-2-8, Bamford 5-2-3-12, Murray 4-2-3-10, Elwell 2-4-5-9, Show 4-10-12-20. TOTALS: 18-23-29-62.
No. Lehigh 20 4 13 21 – 54
Ab. Heights 9 22 8 23 – 62
Three-pointers: NL – George 1, Dibilio 1, Pristash 1; AH – Show 2, Elwell 1.