Last night's game between Jim Thorpe and Panther Valley may not have been a battle between two juggernauts, but it was certainly exciting to watch.
There wasn't much defense, at times it was sloppy, but the two teams put it all on the line. When it was all said and done it was the Olympians that prevailed, making some big plays down the stretch to come away with a 61-59 Schuylkill League Division 1 victory.
Jim Thorpe, unlike a day ago was able to generate some offense, scoring 32 more points against the Panthers than they did against Marian. The reason being the Olympians were able to finish their shot attempts inside. It's no secret that Thorpe is not an outside shooting team and the Panthers weren't able to stop JT from getting to the hoop.
"The difference for us tonight was that we finished our shots inside," said Jim Thorpe coach Brian Carroll. "Everybody knows we're not a good outside shooting team. We also haven't finished well around the basket that much this year either. We've had success getting to the bucket, but we haven't been able to finish, but tonight we did and that was the reason we were able to come away with the "W."
Panther Valley led the Olympians at half, but a 17-8 third quarter run by JT gave them a 45-39 advantage. The Panthers are a unit that usually pride themselves on strong defensive effort and it has resulted in success for them over the years. However, against Thorpe it was evident the Panthers were missing something and the Olympians made them pay.
"Our lack of toughness on the defensive end is concerning, especially after the type of mentality past players have instilled in our program over the last few years," said Panther Valley coach Pat Crampsie. "You have to give Jim Thorpe credit though, they took it to us on the offensive end and they really drove it down our throat there. Our kids played hard and they fought to get back in the game in fourth quarter, but we have to play with more intensity."
Jim Thorpe was able to hang on in the fourth after escaping a PV run that saw the Panthers close within two after a Jake Szczecina three. However, JT answered the call with a Dave Everitt bucket inside and kept the Panthers at a distance from then on. A Steven Romanchik desperation three at the buzzer then made it 61-59 in favor of Thorpe.
A positive for the Panthers was the performance put on by gun slinger Szczecina, who canned nine triples in the game to set a new PV single-game record for three-pointers made. PV actually didn't have a two-point field goal since the first quarter, hitting 14 straight treys without a two-point basket. Szczecina finished with 29 and Romanchik added 19.
For Thorpe Mike Harelston tallied 19, while Khadir Lindsey chipped in with 15.
Szczecina 10-0-0-29, Kusko 1-1-1-4, Stano 0-1-2-1, Romanchik 4-9-12-19, Ferryman 1-0-0-3, Taras 1-0-0-3, Vermillion 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 17-11-15-59
Harelston 8-0-0-19, Lindsey 5-5-7-15, Green 0-0-0-0, S. Principe 2-0-0-5, Brown 6-0-0-12, Everitt 5-0-0-10. TOTALS: 24-5-7-61.
Panther Vy. 13 18 8 20 - 59
Jim Thorpe 13 15 17 16 - 61
Three-pointers: PV - Szczecina 9, Romanchik 2, Kusko 1, Ferryman 1, Taras 1; JT - Hareslton 3, S. Principe 1.