Bulldogs pull away in second half
Ron Gower/TIMES NEWS Northern Lehigh's Jordan Waylen, right, gets a screen from teammate Joey Seremula (10) to get around Salisbury defender Alec Ressler.
All Salisbury wanted was a victory to improve its District 11 playoff possibilities.
All Northern Lehigh wanted was a victory to remain in the Colonial League playoff hunt.
With his Bulldogs having already punched their district playoff ticket over the weekend, coach Rich Oertner knew the significance of the meeting with Salisbury Tuesday night.
"It was a big game for us," Oertner said. "They're (Salisbury) still playing hard and anybody who's playing hard, you got to respect them and hopefully play as well as you can.
"This was a must win tonight. We had to win."
Althought it has struggled in league play, Salisbury still gave Northern Lehigh a run for its money before the Bulldogs pulled away for a 56-43 victory.
"It wasn't pretty, but the second half we came out and played a lot better," Oertner said. "We just didn't play very good defense in the first half. So, we made a big change in the second half. We came out and went from a 3-2 to a 2-3 to protect the inside a little bit.
"They beat us on the boards in the first half and got some easy put-backs. Then, we changed our defense and they struggled from the outside and we were able to rebound a little bit better."
It was evident that the Falcons (7-8 overall; 3-6 CL) were able to beat the Bulldogs' 3-2 zone as they took an early 17-12 lead after one quarter of play.
But Evan Biegley scored six points and Bobby Hahn nailed a three-pointer and two running jumpers to help the Bulldogs knot the game at 25-25 right before intermission.
After Salisbury took a quick four-point lead again after half, the Bulldogs tightened up the defense a bit more underneath the basket. Meanwhile, their offensive attack fed off the success of the newly inserted 2-3-zone defense.
The triple threat of Nick Pappas, Jordan Waylen and Biegley were all the Bulldogs needed to rip off a 20-0 run that stretched into the final stanza.
Pappas netted eight of his 12 points, Waylen recorded eight of his 12 points and Biegley chipped in with four of his game-high18 points in the decisive run.
It was what the coach called for, according to Pappas.
"We really wanted to beat them," Pappas said. "We have been struggling a bit in the recent games. When we came in at half and coach told us we really needed to pick it up that they were beating us up the court, we all answered by coming out and playing as hard as we could to put this one away."
It took the Bulldogs (12-5; 7-4) a matter of a little more than eight minutes to take control of the game and set the stage for Friday's key Colonial League showdown with North Division leader Bangor.
"Friday is probably the game of the year at this point for us," said Oertner, whose Bulldogs are a game out of first place in the North Division. "We lost to a couple of teams we should have beaten. We beat a couple of teams we should have lost to. I think we had three losses by a total of five points and that really hurts us."
Maron 1-0-0-2, Baker 5-1-2-12, Kovach 2-0-0-4, Peterson 0-0-0-0, Ressler 0-0-0-0, Heidecker 1-0-0-3, Diaz 1-0-0-2, Todora 1-0-0-2, Schantz 4-0-0-8, Cochrane 19-3-8-43.
Seremula 0-0-0-0, Hahn 3-3-4-10, Glose 0-2-2-2, Waylen 6-0-2-12, Malaska 0-0-0-0, Everhart 0-0-0-0, Biegley 8-2-2-18, Johnson 1-0-0-2, Pappas 6-0-0-12, Pierce 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 24-7-10-56.
Salisbury 17 8 5 13 - 43
No. Lehigh 12 13 16 15 - 56
Three-pointers: Salisbury - Baker 1, Heidecker 1; NL - Hahn 1.