NL looking to enjoy States
Northern Lehigh girls basketball head coach Dave Oertner knows a thing or two about Shikellamy, his team's first opponent when the PIAA playoffs begin for the Lady Bulldogs on Saturday at Shamokin High School at 4:30 p.m.
Prior to finding out who they would play in the opening round of states, Oertner took it upon himself to scout the Braves, who play in Division I of the Heartland Conference out of District 4. He later sent one of his assistant coaches to watch them again.
With all his scouting reports in hand, Oertner has taken preparing Northern Lehigh seriously for its first state playoff game in nearly two decades.
"I was able to see them (earlier on) and it helps us prepare them (his Bulldog players)," Oertner said. "We have some time to lick our wounds a little bit from the loss and get over it.
"We came from the ashes where we were four years ago when we won two games and this year we reversed that. So, hopefully we can just add another win (24-2 overall) in the column and go as far as it takes us."
It was back in '92-'93 when the Bulldogs entered the state playoffs as a third-place team. Northern Lehigh wound up knocking off Muncy 45-44 in the opening round.
Since then, the Bulldogs have had a case of hard knocks as far as the postseason goes.
Back in the playoffs once again, Oertner wants nothing more than to have his Bulldogs fully prepared for their first state playoff game in 17 years.
While the Braves are back for the first time in five years, the Bulldogs need to prepare for the same team that recently made program history by capturing both the conference and district championship in the same season.
It took Shikellamy's starting five - seniors Megan Slonaker, Dana Reed and Kelly Bickle, junior Emily Daddario and freshman Alexis Angstandt - to get the job done.
Braves' head coach Lew Dellegrotti, who is in his fourth year, also utilizes the talent of sophomore Lauren Onessi and senior Nya Hall, who come off the bench a lot.
While Oertner has potential floor match-ups together already, the Bulldogs' third-year coach wasn't afraid to share his notes of the opposing team.
Immediately, Oertner pinpointed the likes of Bickle, who leads the Braves in scoring (18.0 ppg).
"She's an outstanding shooting guard," Oertner said. "She has a quick release. And, she' very aggressive offensively and defensively.
"She kind of reminds me of a mix between (Colonial League MVP Sondrine) Glovas and (Caitlin) Hrebik from our league."
In fact, Oertner added that the game he attended she scored her 1,000th point.
Oertner pointed out Slonaker is a "strong presence inside" standing a team-high 6-foot and has a "nice touch on the ball" when shooting. Slonaker is the only other Brave to average double digits in scoring (10.0 ppg).
With some time and preparation, the Bulldogs hope they can match both '91-'92 and '92-'93's efforts by advancing another day into the tournament.
"It's a new experience for us," Oertner said. "We're looking to have fun with it. And, we have a shot and a chance to move on. We just got to play well and hope things take care of itself."