Bulldogs want a championship
bob ford/times news Northern Lehigh coach Dave Oertner talks during a timeout.
The Northern Lehigh girls' basketball team is exactly where it wants to be.
Then again, so is Pine Grove.
On Friday night, both teams will take the floor of Sewards Gymnasium at Allen High School with the same thought in mind winning the District 11 Class AA championship.
Since both programs have fallen short of the title recently, Bulldogs' coach Dave Oertner knows that each squad will be focused come tip-off time.
"Both of us have been fighting to win championships with good basketball teams," Oertner said. "So, finally somebody's going to win one that probably deserves one. They're a good team and we're a good team."
The Bulldogs missed out on winning league titles the past two seasons. Last year, after an undefeated regular season, they lost in the Colonial League semifinals. After reaching the finals this year, they fell to Southern Lehigh, 42-33.
Pine Grove is also familiar with recent disappointment. The Cardinals, who won a district title in 2008, were knocked out of the Class AA semifinals the past two years. But unlike Northern Lehigh, who has never gained the gold, Pine Grove has a history of championships. In fact, they have captured 15 Class AA titles.
Oertner said his players, especially his starting core of seniors Sonya Josephson, Lauren Oertner and Kristi Seiler, and juniors Tina Bastardi and Aimee Oertner, want to be the first to hoist the school's first-ever girls' district trophy.
But it won't be easy.
Inside, Pine Grove's 5-11 senior Kalene Anderson (10.1 points per game) may cause some issues for the Bulldogs.
"She's going to be a handful for us to deal with," Oertner said. "Lauren does a great job defensively on the other team's big girl and she's going to have her work cut out for her this week.
"This girl is much physically stronger than Lauren, and she's got more size on Lauren - not height wise, but strength. So we're going to have to give Lauren some help down low I'm sure."
While Anderson presents a threat in the paint, the Cardinals have another threat senior guard Kaylin Ryan that roams the perimeter.
"She has no conscious when it comes to shooting the ball," said Oertner of Ryan (14.1 ppg). "She will shoot them from anywhere in the gym.
"If you give her an inch, she's going to get it off because she has a very quick release."
While the Bulldogs have experienced floor generals on the court, Oertner pointed out Pine Grove freshman Becky Evans handles her job well for an underclassman.
"She's a freshman age-wise, but I think knowledge-wise, she's well ahead of her era as far as understanding the game," Oertner said. "She does a really nice job in settling them down and doing the things that a point guard is supposed to do. She understands her role very well."
Seniors Jayde Nagle and Alicia Kimmel finish off first-year Cardinals' head coach Chris George's starting lineup.
Despite the tough competition, Oertner and his team don't want to let another opportunity slip away from them.
"They understand the situtation that they're going to have to get one," said Oertner, whose team reached the AAA finals a year ago but lost to Central Catholic. "The opportunities are going by and we missed a number of chances. To get enough chances, hopefully sooner or later things go your way. We hope they go our way Friday night."