At halftime of Tuesday's Colonial League clash between Catasauqua and Northern Lehigh, the Bulldogs not only held a commanding 32-21 lead but they also held the game's momentum.
Instead of quitting and allowing the advantage to be in favor of the locals, the Rough Riders made things quite 'rough' for the 'Dawgs in the second half, and rallied for a 52-49 victory.
"At halftime, we challenged the guys," said Catasauqua head coach Eric Snyder. "I asked them, 'What do we have in us?"
At the moment, the Roughies hold the No. 1 spot in the District 11 Class AA race and want to maintain that position. Northern Lehigh also had plenty of reason to continue its winning ways, as it was Senior Night.
With the game tied at 49 apiece and time dwindling, a Nolehi pass was intercepted by Paryss Marshall. As he saw the opportunity to race the entire court, two Bulldog defenders closed in. Marshall exploded to the bucket for the lay-up and got fouled. He converted the three-point play, and that produced the final score.
A three-pointer with three ticks left was attempted by Lucas Pierce, but it came up short.
"That seems to be the story of our season – key turnovers at key points of the game," said Bulldog head coach Jeff Miller. "Catty's defensive intensity led to some of our bad mistakes, though."
In the first half, Northern Lehigh (13-8; 8-7) held the edge in plenty of areas, including the turnovers, as they only committed three (Catty had four). However, coach Snyder's challenge at the break caused for increased defensive pressure, as the 'Dawgs had eight in the second half.
"Catty is a well-coached team and they have a league playoff spot to play for," said Miller. "They definitely picked up their intensity down the stretch and they know what they're playing for."
The two teams battled in the first frame with Nolehi taking a 14-11 edge behind 10 points from Josh Eden.
In the second, the hosts increased their lead to 32-21, as Tyler Dibilio and Matt Egan both notched five, while Caleb Johnson and Eden had four apiece. Johnson's break-away dunk highlighted a 9-0 run to close the session.
After the Snyder speech inspired his squad, Catasauqua outscored their opponent 13-4 in the third to cut into the lead, and eventually trailed by two, 36-34 after three periods.
In the fourth, there were seven lead changes, as the battle got intense. The Bulldogs' Johnson proved tough to stop down low, as he scored six in the final eight minutes, while Catty's Brandon Purrone hit five of six free throws to keep things close.
With just over two minutes left, Eden hit from underneath to give Northern Lehigh a 49-46 edge.
However, that was the last bucket the locals would score, as Purrone's free throw was ensued by four straight Marshall points to round out the game.
"They're just an all-around good team and we're glad to get a win tonight," said Snyder. "We have a lot to play for."
Eden led all scorers with 18 points, while Johnson added 12 and Egan 11.
Catty received a team-high 13 from Marshall.
Catasauqua also won the JV game, 54-35.
Edwards 4-0-0-12, Purrone 2-5-6-10, Bond 0-0-0-0, Marshall 6-1-1-13, Brinkley 4-0-0-8, Parker 2-1-2-5, Strong 2-0-0-4. TOTALS: 20-7-9-52.
Egan 5-1-1-11, Dibilio 2-2-2-8, Eden 9-0-0-18, Landsberger 0-0-0-0, Johnson 6-0-0-12, Pierce 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 22-3-3-49.
Catasauqua 11 10 13 18 - 52
Northern Lehigh 14 18 4 13 - 49
Three pointers: C – Edwards 4, Purrone 1; NL – Dibilio 2.