Bulldogs pull away from SL
mike feifel/times news Caleb Johnson of Northern Lehigh prepares to go up with a shot against Southern Lehigh.
Northern Lehigh's Jeff Miller hasn't had to give too many spirited halftime speeches this season.
But on Friday night, the Bulldog head coach thought it was necessary.
Despite leading by four points at the break against visiting Southern Lehigh, Miller wasn't impressed with his team's performance.
So the Nolehi mentor took it upon himself to fire his team up.
Evidently the talk worked.
The Bulldogs played with more passion in the second half, and used an 11-0 run down the stretch to pull away for a 52-40 Colonial League victory.
"In the first half, we were very passive," said Miller. "I had to light a fire under them at halftime. I haven't really had to this year, but I just thought they needed it. They needed a little spark. Hopefully it worked and hopefully I don't have to do it again. But if I need to, I will.
"I thought we were kind of lethargic and challenged them, especially on defense. We were jumping and weren't staying in front of people. Offensively in the second half we set better screens and just ran our offense better."
Josh Eden was pretty much Northern Lehigh's offense in the first two quarters. The Bulldogs' leading scorer this year accounted for 13 of his team's 20 first-half points to allow his team to hold an advantage.
Eden finished the contest with 19 points, including a jumper that started Nolehi (10-4; 6-4) on its late spurt.
"Eden is so much improved as a player," said Solehi mentor Bob Shaffer. "He's probably the most improved player or even the most valuable player in the league. He's come a long way. He's the real deal.
"They're a solid team. Down the stretch, (Tyler) Dibilio hit a couple of threes and Eden hit some of those fadeaways. I thought we had some good looks in the second half. They knocked theirs down and we didn't."
The Spartans (8-7; 6-4) gave Northern Lehigh fits throughout the evening, and even pulled within 39-37 with three minutes to play on a pair of baskets from Conor Zellner.
But Eden drained a 16-footer, Dibilio hit six free throws, Josh Landsberger converted a three-point play and Southern Lehigh missed seven straight shots during that stretch drive to help the Bulldogs secure the victory.
"They were ahead of us in the league standings and now we have the tiebreaker on them," said Miller. "In that respect, the game was huge. We also want to still have that little bit of cockiness as far as teams coming in here. We don't want to lose on our home court.
"We came off a real tough loss Tuesday where we blew a 13-point lead against Wilson. And a lot of that was foul shooting (3-of-11). If Tyler's getting to the line, though, we're in pretty good hands. He leaves everything out on the floor and his hustle creates a lot of things."
Dibilio also finished with 19 points, 16 of them coming in the second half, while Lucas Pierce led the team with eight rebounds to improve the Bulldogs' home record to 8-0.
Hess 0-0-0-0, Schmidt 1-2-2-4, Kandt 0-0-0-0, Schlosser 0-0-0-0, Zellner 3-0-0-6, Krouse 3-0-0-8, Heiser-Koch 0-0-0-0, Cassel 0-0-0-0, Durics 0-0-0-0, Long 0-0-0-0, Zabrecky 2-1-2-6, Reppert 7-2-4-16. TOTALS: 16-5-8-40.
Egan 1-1-2-3, Dibilio 5-7-8-19, Eden 9-0-0-19, Landsberger 2-1-1-5, Johnson 1-2-4-4, Pierce 1-0-0-2. TOTALS: 19-11-15-52.
So. Lehigh 8 8 10 14 - 40
No. Lehigh 9 11 11 21 - 52
Three-pointers: So. Lehigh - Krouse 2, Zabrecky 1; No. Lehigh - Dibilio 2, Eden 1.