NL meets Mid-Valley
Northern Lehigh's Tina Bastardi
Northern Lehigh girls' basketball coach Dave Oertner only had a single tape of Bishop McDevitt entering the opening round of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic State Class AA playoffs.
Oertner and his Bulldogs were still prepared enough to walk off with the program's first state playoff win since 1993, a 62-18 rout of the District 12 runners-up last Saturday.
With only a day to prepare for its second round game, Oertner managed to get his hands on a bit more information on his team's second round opponent Mid-Valley.
Mid-Valley, which plays in the Lackawanna Interscholastic Athletic Association League's Division II, beat Mt. Carmel 67-57 last weekend.
Oertner used video of the Spartans, information from a scout who attended their last game, and a roster with scoring averages to put together a scouting report.
Oertner has come to a conclusion on what will be the secret to success on Saturday when the teams meet at 5 p.m. at Hazleton Area High School.
"The key to the game is going to be whether Tina (Bastardi) can stop [Spartans' guard Danielle] Terranella's penetration," said Oertner of the Spartans' leading scorer, who averages a double-double with 19 points and 12 rebounds per game. "Tina's the only one quick enough to do it. We'll probably just give Tina the job of trying to keep her from penetrating our defense."
With the thought of foul trouble possibly looming, Oertner may lean toward switching defenses to avoid the situation.
"Right now, I would like to play man-to-man," Oertner said. "But we may have to play some zone if we can't stop her penetration. We'll have to wait and see."
The Spartans are the District 2 third place team and have a 23-4 overall mark. All four of their losses came to LIAA Division II and District 2 Class AA champion Dunmore, who is still alive in the same bracket as the Bulldogs and Spartans.
The Spartans possess a well-balanced attack around 1,000-point scorer Terranella.
Senior forward Alli Walsh, who also scored her 1,000th point this season, averages a double-double (12 points and 12 rebounds), while senior guard Alyssa Miraglia (9.0 ppg), junior point guard Sam DeMarco (7.0 ppg) and senior forward Mariah Runco (4.0 ppg) round out the Spartans' starting five.
While Oertner feels the Spartans' overall size is solid with Walsh standing at 5-11 and Miraglia at 5-8, he plans to stick with the usual tactics for his team's own offensive game plan.
"They're not a small team by any means," Oertner said. "We still have to beat them inside. We're going to have to get the ball down low.
"We don't necessarily have a whole lot of other options. We have to work the ball inside for a really good shot that's the way we have to play."
Mid-Valley head coach Bob Doughton is well aware of Northern Lehigh's height underneath in Lauren Oertner (5-11, 4.7 ppg) and its own duo of 1,000-point scorers in Aimee Oertner (6-1, 17.9 ppg), Sonya Josephson (6-0, 15.1 ppg).
"I think we have to think a step earlier and pressure their guards," Doughton said. "There's not a heck of a lot you can do to prevent the ball from getting in there 100 percent of the time. So, I think the answer is to do your best to limit them to one shot once the ball gets in there.
"We have to do our best than to rebound on the defensive end and limit their opportunities. But, pressuring their guards will be the answer right now."
Doughton feels tonight's showdown is a "good opportunity" for his Spartans.
"Northern Lehigh is a very good team and are rightfully where they should be in the state playoffs," Doughton said. "I think obviously they have a size advantage here and we have our work cut out for us."