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Six area teams in semifinal action

Published February 28. 2012 05:01PM

Six area teams will be involved in District 11 basketball semifinal playoffs games.

The Northern Lehigh boys and girls, the Marian boys, and the Pleasant Valley girls will play tonight.

The Jim Thorpe girls and Marian girls will be in action Wednesday.

District 11 Class AA Boys

Semifinal round

No. 1 Northern Lehigh (19-4 overall, 13-3 CL)

vs. No. 5 Wilson (14-9, 8-8 CL)

TIPOFF: Tuesday, February 28, 2012 at 7:30pm at Parkland High School

COACHES: Northern Lehigh Jeff Miller; Wilson Bob Frankenfield

LEADING SCORERS: Northern Lehigh Lucas Pierce (11.9 ppg), Caleb Johnson (10.6 ppg), Devin Glose (8.8 ppg); Wilson Gerald Terry (13.7 ppg), Daye-Shawn Bailey (11.8 ppg),

GAME NOTES: The two teams met one other time this season with Northern Lehigh pulling out a 39-34 win at home … In that contest, the Bulldogs held a 16-point halftime lead, only to see the Warriors erupt out of the break with a 16-0 run to tie the game, before NL pulled out the win in the end … This is the third straight appearance for the Bulldogs in the District 11 AA tournament … The last time Nolehi won the District 11 title was the Jake Waylen-led team of 2007-08 … Wilson enters the semifinal match-up after a mild upset of number four-seed Blue Mountain at Pottsville's Martz Hall, 49-41, The Bulldogs also defeated Blue Mountain this season, gaining a 55-51 win back on Feb. 4 … Last year these same two teams met in the semifinals, and Wilson defeated the Bulldogs (43-36) and went on to the finals, where the Warriors lost to Allentown Central Catholic in overtime ... Northern Lehigh is 4-4 this year against teams with winning records, with three of those losses coming to Bangor. The wins are against Wilson, Blue Mountain, Notre Dame and Southern Lehigh. Nolehi went 15-0 against teams with losing records ... The Bulldogs have lost three straight district playoff games. Besides the loss to Wilson last year, they fell to Saucon Valley in 2010 and to Jim Thorpe in 2009 ... Northern Lehigh is 17-0 this season when holding opponents under 50 points. Since the 2006-07 season the Bulldogs are 89-4 when they hold teams under 50 although two of those losses have come at the hands of the Warriors ... Nolehi, as a team, has a free throw percentage of .684, easily the highest among TIMES NEWS area teams ... The Bulldogs are 5-2 in games decided by less than 10 points while Wilson is 3-6.

QUOTABLE: "The game is going to come down to their quickness against our size. If we can handle their pressure and their match-up zone, we should be alright.

"We also cannot turn the ball over because they try to utilize turnovers to turn them into fast break opportunities. We definitely want to get the ball inside to our strength and on defense, we need to try to limit their penetration by keeping them in front of us. "We need everyone to contribute in order to pull out a victory and everyone needs to step up their game." Northern Lehigh head coach Jeff Miller

District 11 Class A Boys

Semifinal round

No. 2 Pius X (15-8, Independent)

vs. No. 4 Marian (12-10, 4-4 Schuylkill League)

TIPOFF: Tuesday February 28th at 6 p.m. at Panther Valley High School

COACHES: Pius AJ Depue; Marian John Patton

LEADING SCORERS: Marian Ryan Karnish (11.9 ppg), Alden Whah (8.5 ppg); Pius X Caleb Knudsen (15.17 ppg), Anthony Holmes (9.30 ppg), Tyler Catania (8.08 ppg), Eric Marbury (7.8 ppg), Lyndan Ewing jr. (7.13 ppg).

GAME NOTES: Marian comes into their game with Pius looking to qualify for the State Tournament for the fourth consecutive season. They are also looking to win their third straight District Championship and second straight under John Patton. The numbers will make your head spin in this one. Looking at the similar opponents that Marian and Pius X have played this season one would think tonight's game should be a very close contest. However, Pius X's 53-31 win over the Colts on January 7th may suggest other wise. Pius is 2-2 against the teams remaining in the Class-A District 11 bracket. The Royals split with Lincoln Leadership Academy who matches up with Mahanoy in the other semifinal game. Pius lost to Mahanoy during the regular season by six, while Marian split with the Bears. Marian also split with Panther Valley who was a participant in the Class-AA bracket. Panther Valley took care of Lincoln Leadership by four back in late December. In order for Marian to stay in the game with the Royals they have to completely change their game-plan from their first go around. The Colts have to keep the more athletic Royals off the boards and out of the paint. Pius (57.39 ppg) scores almost 14 more points a game than the Colts (44.00 ppg) and has gotten to free-throw line 382 times. If the Colts can play solid defense and keep the Royals from getting a bevy of second chance opportunities they have a shot to advance. The Colts also need to shoot it well. They come into this game having made 89 three-pointers with leading scorer Ryan Karnish hitting 52 of them (TIMES NEWS three-point champ). The Royals have only hit 60 as a team and obviously the Colts want to keep Pius shooting from the outside and not in the paint. It's also important for the Colts to lock up the Royals Caleb Knudsen. Knudsen can get to the basket and has attempted 117 free-throws this season. The next closest Marian player to Knudsen is Damian Richards who went to the line 63 times in the regular season.

QUOTABLE: "The beat us pretty bad the last time and obviously we want to come out and do something things differently.

"Our main concern is to keep them off the boards and not turn the ball over. We turned it over a ton the last time and if we want to stay in the game we have to take care of the ball. They play a lot of man-to-man and they're going to pressure us the whole game so our kids really have to be aware of that.

"We have to shoot the ball well and get quality shots each time down the floor. We have to make them play our style of play and not let them get out into transition off of the defensive boards. That's why rebounding is so key for us. If we can limit them to one shot and done and then in turn get some second and third shots on the offensive end for ourselves that will really bode well for us as the game moves forward." Marian head coach John Patton


Semifinal Round

No. 1 Pleasant Valley (17-8, 9-3 MVC)

vs. No. 5 Liberty (15-8 overall, 7-7 LVC)

TIPOFF: Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 7:30 p.m. at Nazareth

COACHES: Pleasant Valley - Nadia Gauronsky; Liberty - Amy Yencho

LEADING SCORERS: Pleasant Valley - Kelecia Harris (13.7 ppg), Amber Chieffo (7.8), Arden Cisluycis (6.6), Keri Dekmar (6.6), Jordan Meckes (5.6); Liberty - Jody Chickey (10.7 ppg), J.J. Hilliard (10.1), C.J. Hilliard (8.0), Kali Shumock (7.1)

GAME NOTES: Liberty and Pleasant Valley will be meeting for the second time this season...The Hurricanes won 67-63 in quadruple overtime on Feb. 1... Senior guard Jody Chickey led the Hurricanes with 31 points, while fellow seniors J.J. Hilliard and C.J. Hilliard added 13 and 10 points respectively. All three have already committed to played basketball at the next level. Chickey will attend Mount St. Mary's, J.J. Hilliard will attend Lock Haven, and C.J. Hilliard will go to Gwynedd-Mercy College... Liberty advanced to the semis by beating No. 4 Emmaus, 37-24.... J.J. Hilliard led the way with 11, while C.J. Hilliard and Chickey contributed just eight and six points. All three are considered guards and are capable of pushing the ball up the floor. They are also capable of creating their own shots, so the Bears will have to locate all three on defense and rotate properly should they drive to the basket.... Pleasant Valley's Kelecia Harris went off for 22 points in the first meeting and could have her way once again in the post. Guard Keri Dekmar erupted for 16 points as well and may prove to be the wild card. If she and senior Amber Chieffo can chip in somewhere around 10 points, then the Bears should easily be able to keep up with the Hurricanes on the scoreboard... These two teams met in the quarterfinals last year, with the Hurricanes knocking off the then No. 1 seeded Bears, 41-27...

QUOTEABLE: "We played against Liberty earlier this month and went to four overtimes with them, so we know we can keep up with them. With that said, we must try to limit their chances. Just because we can stay with them doesn't mean we should just let them have it easy on the offensive end.

"The small things matter in a tight matchup. We will need to get on as many loose balls as possible, grab as many rebounds as we can and take advantage of the opportunities that we are given. We can't miss a ton of layups or free throws in a game like this and expect to win. We have to concentrate on every possession for the full 32 minutes." Pleasant Valley's Nadia Gauronsky.


Semifinal round

No. 5 Northern Lehigh (12-11, 7-9 Colonial League)

vs. No. 1 Pine Grove (13-7, 7-5 Schuylkill League)

TIPOFF: Tuesday, February 28, 2012 at 6 p.m. at Parkland High School

COACHES: Northern Lehigh - Dave Oertner; Pine Grove - Chris George

LEADING SCORERS: Northern Lehigh - Aimee Oertner (18.4 ppg), Tina Bastardi (11.0), Rachel Hams (4.0), Kelsey Follweiler (3.5); Pine Grove - Becky Evans (12.8 ppg), Lauren Thompson (7.8), Shannon Zimmerman (7.4), Samantha Bertasavage (6.3), Steffi Sampson (4.7), Miranda Smith (4.5), Adelen Geiger (4.0)

GAME NOTES: Northern Lehigh knocked off No. 4 seed Salisbury on Friday night to set the stage for a rematch of last year's Class AA championship game. Pine Grove, which was the No. 2 seed a year ago, beat top-seeded Northern Lehigh, 41-31, to win last year's district title ... The Bulldogs are looking to earn a berth in a District 11 championship game for the third straight year. In addition to last year's lost to the Cardinals in the AA title game, they also lost to Allentown Central Catholic in the Class AAA championship game two years ago ... This is the fourth year in a row the Bulldogs have qualified for the districts twice in Class AA and twice in Class AAA. Pine Grove has qualified for the Class AA playoffs the last 10 years. During that span, the Cardinals have played in six championship games and captured three titles (2003, 2008, 2011) ... Northern Lehigh and Pine Grove have played three common foes during the regular season Saucon Valley, Blue Mountain and Jim Thorpe. Pine Gove is a combined 2-3 against those teams while Northern Lehigh is 1-2. Pine Grove scored a 67-63 win over Saucon Valley at home while Northern Lehigh suffered a 49-35 setback in Hellertown. The Bulldogs scored an all-important 46-37 victory over Blue Mountain to aid their chances in qualifying for districts back on Feb. 4th while the Cardinals split with the Blue Eagles. Pine Grove scored a 47-42 win at home and dropped a 39-33 decision in Orwigsburg. Over the Christmas break, Northern Lehigh lost to Jim Thorpe 52-37 in the Lady Indian Holiday Classic Championship game while Pine Grove lost to the Olympians twice, 42-35 and 45-40 ... Northern Lehigh had two seperate three-game winning streaks and a four-game winning streak over the course of the regular season. Pine Grove longest win streak was also four games. It accomplished that twice ... Oertner expects the Cardinals to press, making the Bulldogs ability to handle man-to-man pressure and take care of the basketball crucial ... Oertner said the Bulldogs need to do a better job of getting out on three-point shooters, specifically Pine Grove guards Becky Evans and Lauren Thompson ... Evans, the Cardinals' leading scorer, has missed some time with an injury this season. Oertner called the Cardinals a different team with her back on the court. He feels the Bulldogs need to control her penetration, make sure they stay in front of her, and don't give her an easy three-point attempts ... A year ago, the Bulldogs were the favorite when they met Pine Grove in the Disitrct title game. This season, Oertner is enjoying the underdog role saying his team has no pressure on it and expects them to play loose.

QUOTABLE: "First, I'd like to thank my assistant coaches (Mike Lehtonen and Sue Lynn) who stepped up and really did a heck of a job against Salisbury when I was suspended, They asked me 'what would you have done different,' and I told them 'not a darn thing.'" They won the game. They did a great job. I have to credit them and our players. Usually when you have a different coach out there, kids don't respond the same. I don't care if you have Bobby Knight taking over. They're not going to respond the same as they do for their head coach. But, these kids came through and so did Mike and Sue.

"It's great being able to come back and get another chance to coach this group of kids. I was feeling bad about not being there for them. Fortunately, they came though for me. It's been a pleasure to coach this team all season. They are great kids. For them to come through like they did against Salisbury is amazing. I am very proud of the way they played."

"As far as Pine Grove is concerned, last year, to be honest, we didn't play very well and they did. This year, we need to perform better. Now, we're both fighting to get back to that title game and I think both of us would be pretty happy to be there." - Northern Lehigh head coach Dave Oertner.

District 11 Class AAA Girls

Semifinal round

No. 1 Allentown Central Catholic (24-1 overall, 14-0 VC)

vs. No. 5 Jim Thorpe (21-4, 11-2 Schuylkill League)

TIPOFF: Wednesday February 29th at 7:30pm at Catasaqua High School

COACHES: Allentown Central Catholic Mike Kopp; Jim Thorpe Rob Kovac

LEADING SCORERS: Allentown Central Catholic Kerry Kinek (18.2 ppg), Jenna Kocsis (9.6 ppg), Alyssa Mack (8.6 ppg); Jim Thorpe Celeste Robinson (24.6 ppg), Chelsea Smelas (11.8 ppg), Kristin Lawrence (43 three-pointers).

GAME NOTES: The Lady Olympians will try to play their way into a District 11 title game for the first time in their school history when they face off against juggernaut Allentown Central Catholic tomorrow night. Prior to Saturday's win over Blue Mountain, Jim Thorpe had only two District 11 playoff victories in school history. In 1981, the Olympians beat Cardinal Brennan before being eliminated by Pine Grove. In 2002, the Olympians defeated Northern Lehigh before falling in the AA semifinal to Catasauqua ... The task as many teams have found out over the years will not be an easy one against Mike Kopp's Central Catholic team. Under Kopp, ACC has won five state championships including four straight from 2001-2004, nine Eastern Final crowns, 20 District 11 Championships, and 16 Lehigh Valley Conference Championships. Before losing to Tamaqua in the District final a year ago, they won 11 straight District 11 Championships. There is hope for the Olympians however, with ACC's close game with their semifinal opponent Palmerton. The Vikettes outscored the Bombers by 10 in the fourth quarter to gain a 45-37 victory. Thorpe also beat the Bombers back on December 26th in the Lady Indian Holiday Classic 59-52 in overtime ... The main concern here for Kovac is the Vikette's size. Kinek (the LVC Player of the Year) and Kocsis stand at 6-3 and 6-0 respectively. Robinson and Smelas, Jim Thorpe's tallest players, come in at 5-9 and 5-7. Robinson (the TN area and Schuylkill League scoring champ) can score from just about anywhere with Smelas being mostly confined to the paint. Kinek and Kocsis can play inside out and could be the deciding factor. If the Olympians allow Kinek to get the ball in low-post position it's going to be tough for them to pull out the win. Kinek made it to the foul line 172 times this season shooting 71%. The key for Jim Thorpe is to rebound the basketball, which at times this season it has't done well. Kovac will probably have Robinson handle the rock on most occasions with the ACC man-to-man defense always making it tough on the opposition. ACC defensive star Abbey Guman will probably have the task of silencing Robinson, who had a big game against Blue Mountain in the District semi scoring 29 points.

QUOTABLE: "I hate to simplify such a big game for us, but we just need to rebound the basketball. For us to have a shot at being competitive then we have to rebound. With a team like ACC you cannot give them second and third shots. We have to limit them to one shot and get out and try and beat them in transition. I think if we can do that then we have a shot to be in it at the end of the game and as anybody who knows basketball anything can happen at the end of the game. That's the position we want to put ourselves in. They have some great players and we're definitely play the role of David on Wednesday night. We're going to show up, play hard, and play to win." Jim Thorpe head coach Rob Kovac


Semifinal round

No. 3 Marian Catholic (18-5 overall, 12-1 Schuylkill League)

vs. No. 2 Notre Dame ES (18-4 overall, 0-0 Independent)

TIPOFF: Wednesday, February 29 at Stroudsburg (6:00 p.m.)

COACHES: Notre Dame of East Stroudsburg - Dave Stefani; Marian Catholic - Paul Brutto

LEADING SCORERS: Notre Dame of East Stroudsburg - Angelica Bertola (5-7 sophomore, 14.5 ppg), Rebecca Bailey (5-8 junior, 9.7), Amanda Smith (5-7 junior, 8.1), Lacey LaRezza (5-11 junior, 7.6), Kellie Leming (5-8 junior, 5.4); Marian Catholic - Kaysi McLaughlin (5-6 senior, 11.7 ppg), Kelly Shober (5-10 senior, 9.9), Danielle Tristani (5-9 senior 9.4), Gabby Green (5-4 sophomore, 6.9), Samantha Faust (5-4 junior, 5.3).

GAME NOTES: Marian has qualified for the District 11 playoffs for the 39th straight season. Last year, the Fillies lost to Tri-Valley 32-27 in the District 11 Class A championship game ... The Spartans have qualified for the District 11 playoffs three times in the past 10 years. They have lost all three games (twice to Moravian Academy and once to Tri-Valley) ... In his second season at the helm of Notre Dame, Dave Stefani has a 32-12 record. Previously, Stefani went 213-77 in 11 years as head coach at Pleasant Valley, winning five straight Mountain Valley Conference titles and the District 11 Class AAAA title in 2003 ... With no seniors on the roster (Notre Dame starts four juniors and one sophomore). Notre Dame returned its top five scorers and top three rebounders from last year's team ... Sophomore Angelica Bertola is the team's leading scorer and is also tops with 39 three-pointers. Lacey LaRezza leads the Spartans in rebounding with 7.6 boards per game ... Notre Dame employs a suffocating defense (a staple Stefani brought to the program when he arrived in 2010)... Notre Dame averages 50.8 points per game, while allowing 36.0 points per contest. Marian averages 48.4 points per game, while allowing 33.5 points per contest ... With defense a trademark of both teams, Marian has held 11 of its opponents to 28 points or less this season. Notre Dame has held eight of its opponents to 26 points or less this year ... Notre Dame dropped a 55-38 decision to Belvidere (NJ) in its regular season finale. The Fillies suffered a 48-21 setback to Tri- Valley in the Schuylkill League Championship ... Marian had won eight games in a row before losing to Tri-Valley, while Notre Dame posted 12 straight wins before losing to Belvidere ... The Fillies five losses this season are to teams with a combined 108-5 record Tri Valley (24-0) twice, Mount Carmel (22-0), Dunmore (19-2) and Lourdes Regional (19-3). The combined record of teams Notre Dame has lost to (Belvidere, Salisbury, North Warren and Pen Argyl) is 51-40 ... Senior Kaysi McLaughlin leads Marian in scoring and three-pointers (43) ... The injury bug has bitten Marian at the most inopportune time. Senior forward Danielle Tristani suffered an ankle injury during the Schuylkill League semifinal against Jim Thorpe and was forced to sit out the Schuylkill League championship game against Tri-Valley. Meanwhile, junior guard Samantha Faust suffered a possible concussion in the team's scrimmage on Thursday and is considered iffy for Wednesday night. Head coach Paul Brutto is hopefull both starters will be able to play, but as of Monday afternoon, neither has yet to receive full clearance from Marian athletic trainer Marc Gallagher ... The winner qualifies for the PIAA State Tournament and will advance to the District 11 Class A championship on Saturday against the Tri-Valley/Nativity winner.

QUOTABLE: "We're going to try to get the game a little up tempo and hopefully pressure them a little bit, but then again, that's all going to depend on who we have available and how much depth we're going to have at our disposal. We just need to be able to execute our offense, and depending on the injury situation, we have to hope that some of our kids that are not used to playing as many minutes can hold their own and do their job." Marian head coach Paul Brutto.

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