Bombers, Bulldogs play for title
mike feifel/times news Jim Thorpe's Brittany Holland goes between Palmerton defenders Jen Snyder (left) and Kelsey Hay to get off a shot.
The Lady Indian Holiday Classic went from one extreme to another.
In the opening contest, Casey Rinfret hit a clutch free-throw with eight seconds left to help Palmerton pull out a close 52-51 victory over Jim Thorpe.
In the night cap, Northern Lehigh perfected a single offensive strategy to run away with a 63-28 win over host Lehighton.
It sets center stage for two Colonial League rivals to battle for tomorrow's tournament championship.
Palmerton had to find a way to overcome a dismal shooting percentage from both the floor and the foul line.
Despite making just a single field goal the entire game, Rinfret was able to seal the Bombers trip to the championship game by hitting her late free throw.
"I just had to put that one in," the senior Bomber guard said. "I knew If I got it, we would have time to set up our defense. We had time to relax and set something up."
Rinfret's free throw came shortly after Jim Thorpe's Kristin Lawrence hit some clutch free throws of her own to tie the game with 10 seconds left. With time winding down and the Bombers leading 51-48, Lawrence missed a three-pointer, but was fouled by the Bombers' Kelsey Hay.
Lawrence hit the first two free throws before Delich tried to ice her with a timeout. That wasn't the sole purpose of the timeout, however. as the Bombers quickly responded to Lawrence's third made free throw that tied the game.
"Other teams might have let down when she (Lawrence) made those three foul shots, but we didn't," Delich said. "We did the right thing. I told them, 'If she makes these three shots, while they're jumping around celebrating, we're going to get the ball in quickly and down the court ... and we did. We pretty much executed what we thought we could do."
The game was close the entire way as the Bombers build as much as a five-point lead in the second quarter before relinquishing the lead to the Olympians with :12 left in the half. Chelsea Smelas hit a driving layup to give her team its first lead of the game right before halftime.
Jim Thorpe then pulled ahead by as many as seven in the third quarter thanks to Celeste Robinson scoring five. But the Bombers rallied to regain the edge heading into the final quarter.
For the Olympians (7-1), who suffered their first loss of the season, Smelas and Robinson led the way with 20 and 15 points respectvely.
Hay had 15 points and Farquhar added 14 for Palmerton (5-1).
Northern Lehigh kept it 'simple' to rout Lehighton.
"We went one play the entire night," said Northern Lehigh coach Dave Oertner. "We call it Simple. There's not much screening just screening on the wings more just to get open. But, we pin down low and look for a little high, little low action with our big people and that's all we did all night."
Leading 10-2 after one quarter, the Bulldogs broke it open in the second period as their big front line of Sonya Josephson (6-0), Aimee Oertner (6-2) and Lauren Oertner (5-11) took over underneath against a much shorter Lehighton squad.
The Bulldogs used that height to its advantage as they scored 30 of their final 44 points from within the paint.
It was the area where Josephson scored the majority of her game-high 28 points. Aimee Oertner didn't make it any easier for the Indians inside as she followed with 15 points.
"Every day at practice, we always work on our plays and that's just one of our basic offenses," said Josephson. "It's basically just memorization for us now and just breaking it down and working and perfecting it.
"And, I guess tonight we perfected it. We got the ball inside to our height and won the game that way."
Lehighton coach Tony Thomas said the Indians were hurt by one of their biggest weaknesses in the opening round of its own tournament.
"You got to give them all of the credit in the world and I expect them to make a huge run down the road, but we have to box out," Thomas said. "We have to box out. We need to get into position to get the ball or get an over the back call. We didn't do that. We can't give our opponent two or three opportunities everytime down the floor.
"You'll win against teams that aren't as strong as you. But, when it comes to being truly competitive against a good team like Northern Lehigh, you're not going to win."
Jordyn Homyak paced the Indians with 11 points.
McElmoyle 0-0-0-0, Batts 0-0-0-0, Lawrence 1-3-3-5, Holland 2-4-4-8, Robinson 6-3-4-15, Mosteller 1-1-4-3, Smelas 9-2-4-20. TOTALS: 19-13-19-51.
Smith 0-0-0-0, Reimer 3-0-5-6, Romano 1-0-0-2, Rinfret 1-7-14-9, Farquhar 6-2-4-14, Snyder 3-0-0-6, Hay 6-3-4-15. TOTALS: 20-12-27-52.
Jim Thorpe 15 16 7 13 - 51
Palmerton 18 12 10 12 - 52
Three-pointers: JT - none; Palmerton - none.
Follweiler 0-0-0-0, Hams 0-0-0-0, Bastardi 3-0-0-6, Werley 1-0-0-2, L. Oertner 3-0-0-6, Josephson 11-6-6-28, A. Oertner 7-1-1-15, Seiler 3-0-0-6. TOTALS: 28-7-7-63.
Homyak 4-3-4-11, Green 0-0-0-0, Barclay 0-1-2-1, Yurasits 2-0-0-5, Evans 1-0-0-3, Klotz 2-0-0-6, Teno 0-2-2-2. TOTALS: 9-6-8-28.
No. Lehigh 10 18 16 19 - 63
Lehighton 2 9 8 9 - 28
Three-pointers: NL - none; Lehighton - Yurasits 1, Evans 1.