Brian Carroll knew it was coming.
And when it did, Jim Thorpe's head coach had a feeling his team might be in trouble.
After leading early in the contest and trailing by just three at halftime, the Olympians received a full dose of North Schuylkill's trap in the second half.
The Spartans' pressure defense proved to be too much as they pulled away for a 53-35 Schuylkill League Division 1 win.
"Obviously the difference was the third quarter," said Carroll. "We knew they love to trap and we knew it was coming. We didn't make some good decisions, but give them credit. North Schuylkill is known for their great defense and they rattled us.
"We really don't have a true point guard and they took advantage of that. We stood still offensively and didn't make plays."
Thorpe (2-7; 0-3) made plays early as it grabbed a 15-12 first quarter advantage. David Everitt got free for a couple baskets underneath and Bryce Micciche drained a three-pointer to key the Olympians' start.
After Mike Harleston hit a jumper and Everitt converted inside to open the second frame, the Thorpe lead swelled to seven points.
"They came and took it to us," said Spartan mentor Curt Ziegmont, whose team improved to 7-2 overall, 2-1 in the league. "We gave up a lot of easy baskets, especially in the first quarter. We had some mental mistakes early in the first half. In the second half we did a better job defensively."
"We really moved the ball well and we finally hit some open shots, which we haven't been doing," added Carroll. "It started with good solid halfcourt defense. We didn't want to press them because they're pretty well-versed at breaking a press. Our kids did a great job defensively and it created offense in the first half. Then (North Schuylkill) hit that stretch at the end of the second quarter."
The visitors rallied back by controlling the paint. Thanks to offensive rebounds and turnovers that resulted in driving baskets, the Spartans scored all 14 of their second-period points in the paint and forged ahead, 26-23.
North Schuylkill's trap then took control of the game after the break. Thorpe only turned the ball over four times in the third quarter but managed just a 2-of-15 effort from the floor. The Spartans' meanwhile, received eight points from Pat Walsh to widen the gap to 42-28.
"We knew the pressure was coming, we knew the trap was coming," said Carroll. "We just didn't execute. It wasn't for a lack of effort. Give their defense credit. It just proved to be the difference."
Walsh finished with 16 points and seven rebounds for the winners while Damiter contributed 15 points and seven boards. Thorpe was led by Harleston's nine points. The Olympians also received eight from Jaquan Brown and Everitt.
In the JV game, North Schuylkill rolled to a 49-21 victory.
Hughes 3-1-2-7, Ennis 1-0-0-3, Murray 0-0-0-0, Weist 0-0-0-0, Meyer 1-1-2-3, Wiley 0-0-0-0, Manbeck 0-0-0-0, Howard 0-0-0-0, Damiter 6-3-8-15, Gregas 2-0-0-4, Gallagher 1-0-0-2, Stokes 1-1-2-3, Walsh 7-2-2-16, Marlow 0-0-2-0, Mozicka 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 22-8-18-53.
St. Hill 0-0-0-0, Harleston 4-0-0-9, M. Principe 0-0-0-0, S. Principe 2-0-0-4, McElmoyle 0-0-0-0, Micciche 2-0-0-6, Brown 4-0-0-8, Everitt 4-0-0-8, Carroll 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 16-0-0-35.
No. Schuylkill 12 14 16 11 - 53
Jim Thorpe 15 8 5 7 - 35
Three-pointers: No. Schuylkill - Ennis 1; Jim Thorpe - Micciche 2, Harleston 1.