Bulldogs keep CL playoff hopes alive
RON GOWER/TIMES NEWS Northern Lehigh's Josh Malaska (23) looks for help as Palmerton's Kyle Ruch (23) and Jourdan Reinhart (52) double team him.
Northern Lehigh knew it still has a shot at making the Colonial League playoffs next week.
Entering Friday night's contest at Palmerton, the only way that was going to happen was if the Bulldogs (15-6, 10-5) took care of business against the Bombers, before taking on Wilson Saturday afternoon.
Jumping out to a 17-0 lead after holding the Bombers (8-14, 5-11) scoreless in the first quarter, Northern Lehigh wound up with a 45-25 victory.
The win, combined with Wilson's 60-52 victory over Notre Dame of Green Pond, sets up the showdown at 1:30 this afternoon on the Warriors' court. If the Bulldogs win, they will get the No. 4 seed and take on Bangor Wednesday night in the semifinals at Southern Lehigh. If Wilson wins, it gets the berth and will face the Slaters in the semis. Saucon Valley and Salisbury will meet in the other semifinal.
"The fast start was big, but it might have hurt us as well, because we lost focus," said Northern Lehigh head coach Jeff Miller. "Once we lost focus, it was tough to regain it.
"Being a young, inexperienced team that tends to happen. We were playing well and got out to the 17-0 lead and lost it. We scored eight points in the second quarter and that shouldn't happen with our offense."
Jordan Waylen and Caleb Johnson scored four points apiece and Tyler Dibilio drained a big three in the first quarter run. The Bombers managed to cut it to nine (21-12) in the second quarter as Cody Geist scored all seven of his team high points, but Johnson added a bucket before time ran out in the half to put the Bulldogs up by 11.
"It's so difficult to spot someone 17 points and come back," said Palmerton head coach Mark Maholick. "One of the things I have said about our guys is there is no give up. We needed a run before halftime to get it respectable and we tried to get it to nine by the half and we almost did it.
"Our defense clamped down a bit and that's one thing we've stressed because the third quarter has been our achilles heel quite a bit."
Northern Lehigh outscored Palmerton 7-1 to start the third quarter as Lucas Pierce hit for four points and Johnson added another three making it 32-13. The Bombers never recovered after that.
Palmerton managed a pair of three's by Joey Tyahla in the fourth quarter and had just one two-point field goal (by Jourdan Reinhart) in the second half.
Josh Malaska added a pair of buckets for Northern Lehigh and Johnson three more with the latter finishing with a game-high 14 points.
"It was a win, I'm not necessarily pleased with it, because we need to put four quarters together," added Miller. "We haven't done that yet outside of a couple of games this year and we need to get better and do that."
Northern Lehigh also made it a sweep with a 60-21 win in the JV game. Thatcher George had 14, Matthew Egan 13, Shawn Shupp 10 and Drayton Middaugh 10 for the Bulldogs. Spencer Shigo had six to lead the Bombers.
George 0-0-0-0, Dibilio 3-0-0-7, Glose 1-0-4-2, Waylen 3-1-2-8, Malaska 3-0-0-6, Rankin 0-0-0-0, Hofmann 0-0-0-0, Middaugh 0-0-0-0, Johnson 6-2-4-14, Pierce 4-0-0-8. TOTALS: 20-3-10-45.
Horvath 0-0-0-0, Andrews 1-0-0-32, Tyahla 2-0-0-6, Svetik 0-0-0-0, Snyder 1-0-0-3, Leaver 0-0-0-0, Ruch 0-1-2-1, Gutekunst 0-0-0-0, Geist 2-2-2-7, Reinhart 2-1-2-5. TOTALS: 8-4-6-25.
No. Lehigh 15 8 11 11 - 45
Palmerton 0 12 5 8 - 25
Three-pointers: NL - Dibilio 1, Waylen 1; Palmerton - Tyahla 2, Andrews 1, Snyder 1, Geist 1.