Raiders' Eroh steals spolight
Tamaqua's Kayla Hope (4) looks for a teammate as Jim Thorpe's Celeste Robinson applies defensive pressure. The Raiders won the game to remain undefeated on the season.
Tamaqua's Amy Zehner casts a huge shadow on the basketball court.
A Division I recruit and the area's leading scorer, Zehner's multi-dimensional talent dominates games.
But Saturday night against Jim Thorpe, the Raiders' Cassie Eroh stepped out of that shadow and into the spotlight.
Eroh scored a career-high 26 points to lead Tamaqua to a 61-43 Schuylkill League victory over the Olympians.
"Cassie really stepped up tonight," said Tamaqua coach Joe Berezwick. "She is a great shooter and as the season goes on, her game just keeps getting better and better.
"Amy [Zehner] is an outstanding player, but we wouldn't be undefeated without everyone else on the court doing their job. We use seven players and every one of them contributes."
Eroh, who shot a sizzling 12-for-17 from the floor, said it was just a matter of filling her role.
"I got some good looks and I hit my shots," she said. "My teammates did a great job of finding me when I was open.
"We have a well-rounded team. Amy is obviously a great player, but every one else has their own talent and their own role to play. One of my roles is to give us some outside shooting and tonight I was able to do that."
While Eroh's huge scoring night might have surprised some, Jim Thorpe coach Rob Kovac was not among them.
"Tamaqua is such a good basketball team," said Kovac. "I've been coaching for a long time and if they aren't the best team I've ever coached against, they are certainly one of them.
"Everyone knows about Zehner, but players like Eroh and [Allison] Updike are very good as well. That's what makes them so difficult to defend."
Kovac explained that those weapons kept the Olympians from doing anything special defensively.
"We've played some box-and-one against other teams this year and considered playing it tonight," he said. "But we thought that Eroh and Updike would take advantage of that so we stuck with our base defense.
"As it turned out, it didn't matter. Eroh had a tremendous game anyway."
Eroh wasted little time establishing herself as she drained a pair of threes and scored 10 first quarter points to give Tamaqua a 16-13 lead after one.
Zehner took over in the second quarter, scoring 10 points as Tamaqua took command and opened a 38-21 halftime advantage.
The Raiders' forced Thorpe into 12 first half turnovers and held the Olympians' leading scorer, Celeste Robinson, to just three points in the opening half.
"Sometimes our defense gets overlooked because of our offensive weapons," said Berezwick. "But I thought our defense helped break the game open in the first half.
"We turned steals into transition baskets and we got an outstanding performance from Allison Updike. Robinson is a great offensive player and we knew containing her would be one of the keys for us. We put Allison on her and she did a fantastic job, especially in the first half when we built our lead."
Behind a couple of quick third quarter baskets by Eroh, Tamaqua extended it's lead to as much as 21 points in the second half and never let the Olympians get closer than 17 the rest of the way.
In addition to Eroh's big night, Tamaqua (17-0; 7-0) got another double-double from Zehner as she scored 17 points and had 10 rebounds.
Robinson and Chelsea Smelas led Jim Thorpe (11-4; 3-3) with 14 and 11 points respectively.
McElmoyle 2-0-2-6, Batts 1-0-1-2, Lawrence 1-0-2-3, Holland 3-0-0-7, Robinson 4-6-8-14, Mosteller 0-0-0-0, Smelas 4-3-5-11. TOTALS: 15-9-18-43.
Hope 0-6-6-6, Trainer 0-0-0-0, Kabilko 0-0-0-0, M. Streisel 2-0-1-4, Walker 0-0-0-0, C. Streisel 0-0-0-0, Eroh 12-0-1-26, Zehner 8-0-1-17, Wagner 0-0-0-0, Updike 3-2-2-8, Urban 0-0-0-0, Wallace 0-0-0-0, Solt 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 25-8-11-61.
Jim Thorpe 13 8 14 8 - 43
Tamaqua 16 22 15 8 - 61
Three-pointers: JT - McElmoyle 2, Holland 1, Lawrence 1. T - Eroh 2, Zehner 1.