Robinson leads Thorpe
bob ford/times news Jim Thorpe's Nina Batts (right) and Celeste Robinson sandwich Panther Valley's Olivia Markovich as all three players dive for a loose ball.
Celeste Robinson continued her early season scoring binge by completing an impressive hat trick Monday night.
For the third straight game, the Jim Thorpe 5-8 junior guard racked up 30 points.
Against Panther Valley, Robinson's most remarkable feat may have been hanging around long enough to seal the deal.
Saddled with her third foul with 10.5 seconds left in the first quarter, Robinson sat out all but 22 seconds of the second and had just two points as the Lady Olympians held a slim 15-11 edge at half.
The second half was a different matter, however.
Robinson poured in 22 points to key a 28-2 third quarter explosion as Thorpe ran away from the Lady Panthers for a 54-18 win in the Schuylkill League Division I opener for both teams.
The victory kept the Olympians unbeaten at 6-0, although they had to survive the first half defensive battle with the aggressive Panthers (1-1).
Once Thorpe got its full court pressure going, Robinson revved up her engine and the Panthers couldn't keep pace.
The Panthers committed a whopping 40 turnovers against the Olympians' trapping, double-teaming zone defenses.
"Defensively, we played good all game," said Jim Thorpe Coach Rob Kovac. "The difference is, Celeste finished in transition when we got the turnovers in the second half.
"In transition, we are as good as anybody. Our weakness is in the halfcourt. In the second half, we showed how good we can be when we play our style of basketball."
Both sides had problems finding the hoop in the first stanza. The Panthers got a pair of baskets inside from 6-3 sophomore center Trayvonda Rice for a 6-4 lead before Chasity Mosteller scored off the break to knot it at 6-6 at quarter's end.
With Robinson in foul trouble during the second period, the Olympians found 5-7 junior forward Chelsea Smelas underneath for six points to squeeze out a four-point advantage at the half.
"Credit Panther Valley. They came out with a good game plan," stated Kovac. "They played good defense, and we got frustrated early. Then Celeste went to the bench, and we started to press a bit. We got some good lucks, but we must have missed 10 layups."
Robinson's return rectified that problem. The Olympians reeled off 18 consecutive points at one point. PV committed 16 third quarter miscues and was held to just two Brittany Cunfer free throws as Thorpe blew it open at 43-13.
"Jim Thorpe's identity is the press," said Panther Valley Coach Josh Wank. "In the halfcourt set, they struggle, and we frustrated them in the first half. Our defense did a great job of cutting down the dribble penetration. In the second half, they rattled us with their pressure, and it showed.
"This is only our second game, and we'll bounce back. This score is not indicative of what kind of team we have."
Smelas added 14 points for Thorpe, which hosts perennial power North Schuylkill Wednesday.
"It's nice to be 6-0, and that puts us in position to play a special game with North Schuylkill in town Wednesday night," said Kovac
Rice topped PV with seven points and six rebounds.
Jim Thorpe won the JV game 23-21. Alex Ventrella scored nine points for Thorpe, while Bryanna Kehrli tallied nine for the Panthers.
McElmoyle 0-0-0-0, Batts 0-0-0-0, Lawrence 2-0-0-5, Condly 0-0-2-0, Rusbarsky 0-0-0-0, Holland 1-0-2-2, Robinson 10-10-12-30, Mosteller 1-1-2-3, Ventrella 0-0-0-0, Smelas 6-2-6-14, Becker 0-0-0-0. Totals: 20-13-24-54.
Blasko 0-1-2-1, Thomas 3-0-0-6, Rice 3-1-3-7, Markovich 0-0-0-0, Cullen 0-0-0-0, Cunfer 0-2-4-2, Zlock 1-0-1-2. Totals: 7-4-10-18.
Jim Thorpe 6 9 28 11 - 54
Panther Vy. 6 5 2 5 - 18
Three-point goals: JT-Lawrence 1; PV-none.