For three quarters, Tamaqua's Tyler Krell was relatively silent.
In the fourth quarter, Krell was a one-man sound explosion.
Thanks to Krell's late-game heroics, Tamaqua was able to hold off Jim Thorpe, 53-48, in a Schuylkill boys basketball game on Thursday.
"Tyler was the difference tonight," said Tamaqua coach Cas Kosciolek. "He got some critical rebounds and made some huge shots when we need them."
Krell exploded for nine points and seven rebounds in the final period, allowing him to finish the game with a double-double (15 points, 11 rebounds).
"Coach Kosciolek challenged me in the fourth quarter to play like I did Monday night against Northern Lehigh," said Krell. "That was one of my best games of the year.
"I tried to give us some energy by hustling and battling under the boards. I'm a role player on the team so my contributions come mostly through hard work and effort."
Tamaqua (8-3, 3-2) needed all of Krell's hard work and effort to hold off an upset-minded Jim Thorpe team that was coming off a humbling 40-point loss to Salisbury just one night earlier.
"I'm proud of our kids," said Jim Thorpe coach Brian Carroll. "The loss to Salisbury was embarrassing, so we challenged them tonight.
"I think it was obvious that the kids took that challenge to heart. It's a credit to them how they bounced back and played extremely hard against a quality Tamaqua team."
Tamaqua looked like it was finally going to take control of the game with a 10-1 run that closed the third quarter and extended into the opening minutes of the fourth. When Brett Kosciolek capped the outburst with a baseline jumper, the Raiders had a 42-35 lead, their biggest of the game, with just over six minutes remaining.
Thorpe bounced back, however, reeling off eight straight points to grab a 43-42 lead with 4:25 left.
"This was probably our best overall performance this season," said Carroll. "We had been searching all year for an offensive identity and I think we finally found it.
"Jaquan (Brown) did a great job of getting to the basket and Bryce hit some big perimeter shots for us."
But just when Jim Thorpe could taste the upset, Krell took charge.
The solid, 6-foot-2 senior forward combined his hustle and muscle to save Tamaqua.
Krell scored nine of the Raiders' final 11 points, almost all of them the result of his work on the boards. Krell pulled down five offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter, four of them down the stretch after Jim Thorpe had surged in front.
"Every possession counts when you're in a close game like this," said Krell. "I tried to go after the ball hard and extend our possessions. Fortunately, I was also able to convert some of those rebound into points as well."
After grabbing an offensive rebound and getting fouled, Krell hit two free throws to give the Raiders a 44-43 lead with 3:59 left. Another offensive board turned into a Krell three-point play with 2:11 left that increased the Tamaqua lead to 47-43.
The Olympians (2-11, 0-5) hung tough, however, and when Mike Harleston hit a free throw with just over a minute remaining, the Tamaqua lead was just 49-48.
But Krell sealed the victory when he took a feed from Kosciolek and scored from underneath with :28 to play. He then drilled a pair of free throws with :10 left.
"Give Jim Thorpe credit, they made some big shots and I thought they outhustled us," said Kosciolek. "But our kids deserve some credit too.
"A year ago, we lose this type of game. This year, we are finding ways to win even when we don't play our best basketball."
Tamaqua placed four players in double figures, led by Krell's 15 points. Zach Wargula added 12 points while Kosciolek and Bo Rottet each scored 11.
For Jim Thorpe, Micciche led the way with 16 points. Brown added 12 points and Harleson chipped in 10.
Harleson 4-1-2-10, Lindsey 3-0-0-6, M. Principe 0-0-0-0, Green 0-0-0-0, Smith 0-0-0-0, S. Principe 0-0-0-0, Micciche 4-5-6-16, Brown 6-0-0-12, Everitt 2-0-0-4. TOTALS: 19-6-8-48.
Rottet 3-4-4-11, Chartier1-1-2-4, Krell 5-5-6-15, Frantz 0-0-0-0, Wargula 3-4-4-12, Kehl 0-0-2-0, Ty. Scripko 0-0-0-0, Kosciolek 5-1-3-11. TOTALS: 17-15-21-53.
Jim Thorpe 13 10 11 14 - 48
Tamaqua 15 11 12 15 - 53
Three-pointers: JT – Micciche 3, Harleson 1. T – Wargula 2, Rottet 1, Chartier 1