Tamaqua rolls to milestone victory
Another win... another milestone... another entry into the Tamaqua record books.
That seemed to be the "theme of the week" for the Tamaqua girls basketball program.
On Monday night, Joe Berezwick picked up his 200th career coaching victory at the helm of the Lady Raiders. Three days later, he proudly inducted his team into "The 500 Club" with a 70-52 Schuylkill League victory over Jim Thorpe.
The win marked the 500th career victory for Tamaqua dating back to 1971. In their 39-year history, the Lady Raiders have compiled an overall record of 500-447.
"It's a milestone for the program," stated Berezwick in reference to the 500 wins. "I'm obviously proud to represent that as the head coach and I'm even more proud of the team we have here to achieve that for this school."
However, "500" didn't exactly get off to the best of starts.
After Tamaqua jumped out to a 6-4 lead, Jim Thorpe retaliated with a 10-3 run to grab a 14-9 lead with just over three minutes remaining in the opening period.
The Raiders answered right back with baskets by Allie Updike and Kayla Hope, but Jim Thorpe's Celeste Robinson scored five points in the final 22 seconds of the first quarter to stake her team to a 20-17 lead.
"We knew coming in that Jim Thorpe always plays us tough on their home floor," added Berezwick. "Jim Thorpe couldn't miss and they put up 20 points against us, which definitely gave us cause for concern."
Fortunately for Tamaqua (13-1, 6-1), battling adversity has never been a problem.
After Jeanna McElmoyle extended the Thorpe lead to five with a deuce to start the second stanza, Tamaqua's offense exploded. The Raiders went on a 23-5 run to end the first half with a 40-27 lead.
"Coach (Berezwick) really got on us in the first quarter about not playing defense," stated Amy Zehner, who scored 21 of her game-high 25 points in the second the third frames. "We don't usually give up 20 points in a quarter, so we came back out with fire in our eyes and picked it up."
The Tamaqua defense forced the Olympians into 18 turnovers during the second and third quarters and limited Jim Thorpe to just 7-of-26 shooting from the floor during that same span.
By the time the third quarter was over, the Raiders were sitting with a 63-38 lead.
"In a lot of ways, Tamaqua's like the Heavyweight Champion of the World," stated Jim Thorpe head coach Rob Kovac. "We came out and went toe-to-toe with them for the first eight minutes, but unfortunately, we just stopped swinging."
Zehner ended the night two assists shy of a triple-double with 25 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kayla Hope and Allie Updike added 13 and 12 points respectively.
For Jim Thorpe (4-8, 2-5), Celeste Robinson led the way with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Jeanna McElmoyle and Chelsea Smelas tacked on 13 points apiece.
"Tamaqua's an unbelievable basketball team and I think we caught the defending District Champs with their A-game tonight," concluded Kovac. "We were standing in the wake of a buzz saw and when you play a team with that kind of talent on a night when they're shooting lights-out, they're going to beat just about any team out there."
In the JV game, Tamaqua rolled to a 48-21 victory behind 10 points from Amanda Solt.
Hope 6-1-4-13, C. Streisel 0-0-0-0, Berezwick 0-2-2-2, M. Streisel 0-1-2-1, Fedor 0-0-0-0, E. Streisel 2-0-0-6, Eroh 4-0-0-9, Zehner 11-3-5-25, Chrush 0-0-0-0, Updike 6-0-0-12, Hankins 1-0-0-2, Solt 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 30-7-13-70.
McElmoyle 6-0-0-13, Batts 0-0-0-0, Reis 2-0-0-4, Holland 0-2-2-2, Robinson 7-5-8-20, Mosteller 0-0-0-0, Smelas 5-3-4-13. TOTALS: 20-10-14-52.
Tamaqua 17 23 23 7 - 70
Jim Thorpe 20 7 11 14 - 52
Three-Pointers: T - E. Streisel 2, Eroh 1; JT - McElmoyle 1, Robinson 1.