Strong second half lifts Bears to 62-52 win
BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS Pleasant Valley's Nick Stanovick (32) looks to make a move around Lehighton's Tyler Hill in the MVC battle between the Bears and Indians.
Halftime probably wasn't a very pleasant experience for Pleasant Valley on Tuesday.
But thanks to a strong second half, the outcome was at least bearable for the Bears.
Trailing winless Lehighton at the break, the Bears came out of hibernation in time to post a 62-52 Mountain Valley Conference victory and keep their District 11 playoff pulse beating.
Nick Stanovick exploded for a game-high 26 points and Pleasant Valley turned up the defensive pressure in the second half to pull away from the stubborn Indians.
"I was definitely upset at halftime," said Pleasant Valley coach Ken Piontkowski. "We seem to lack that killer instinct. We got a comfortable early lead (18-8), but then got a little lazy getting out on their shooters and started turning the ball over and the next thing you know Lehighton's right back in the game."
The Indians not only got back in the game, but they took the lead thanks to an 11-0 run over the last 5:07 of the second quarter.
Nate Kresge came off the Lehighton bench to spark the outburst. Kresge scored seven points, grabbed four rebounds and made two steals in the period. D.J. Rossino added six points as Lehighton took a 28-26 lead into the lockers at halftime.
"We didn't play as well as we're capable in the first half, but you have to give Lehighton credit for that," said Piontkowski. "They did a lot of nice things to cause us problems."
According to Lehighton coach Michael O'Brien, the second quarter run was the best stretch of the season for his team.
"Pleasant Valley is bigger and stronger than us, but our kids never backed down," said O'Brien. "They ran us out of the gym when we played them up at their place so it was nice to see the improvement we've made since that game.
"We executed better "We executed better offensively and defensively in that second quarter than we have at anytime this season. As a matter of fact, this was our best game of the season. Pleasant Valley is a team still battling for a playoff berth and we gave them everything they could handle."
The Bears (8-10; 4-5) wasted no time in regaining control of the game in the third quarter. Behind six points from Stanovick and an improved defensive effort they built a 41-33 lead.
"We opened the game in a halfcourt zone trap and caused them some problems with it," said Piontkowski. "But Lehighton started to do a better job against it late in the half so we decided to make a change.
"We wanted to just keep it simple. We went to an aggressive man defense and a basic zone offense. At halftime, we challenged our kids to step it up and I thought they responded well."
Pleasant Valley quickly put the game away in the fourth quarter as they opened with a 9-0 runs that was fueled by three consecutive steals and breakaway layups. Stanovick had five points in the run that extended the lead to 50-33.
In addition to the big game from Stanovick, the Bears got 13 points and eight rebounds from Mike Sharpe.
PV must now win two of its final three league games to qualify for districts
For Lehighton (0-19; 0-10) JT Keer and Rossino both scored 15 points. Kresge added 10 points.
"We're still winless," said O'Brien. "But we're continuing to do some of the little things that build confidence.
"We're a very young team. We have just two seniors so all the experience these kids are getting and the positive signs I'm seeing will help us in the future."
McQuay 1-0-2-2, Conklin 2-2-4-7, Sharpe 6-1-2-13, Kregeloh 3-2-8-8, Irving 1-1-2-3, Garcia 0-0-0-0, Stanovick 9-5-6-26, Wild 1-1-4-3. TOTALS: 23-12-28-62
Hill 3-1-2-7, Keer 6-1-2-15, Rossino 7-0-0-15, Kresge 4-2-5-10, Markley 2-0-0-5, Szacska 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 22-4-9-52.
Pleasant Vy. 18 8 15 21 - 62
Lehighton 11 17 5 19 - 52
Three-pointers: PV - Stanovick 3, Conklin 1. L - Keer 2, Rossino 1, Markley 1.