Tamaqua clinches District 11 berth
Ron Gower/TIMES NEWS Lehighton's Jordan Knappenberger attempts to drive past Tyler Skripko of Tamaqua during Saturday's contest.
One giant similarity that both Tamaqua and Lehighton share is the fact they can shoot the lights out on any given night.
Saturday night, a hot start in this future Schuylkill League rivalry propelled the Blue Raiders to a 66-54 victory over Lehighton.
"Tonight we showed that offensively we're really unselfish," said Tamaqua coach Caszy Kosciolek. "Russell (Blaker) and Adam (Frantz) really stepped up and gave us some fire power."
Tamaqua opened the game on a 10-2 run during the first four and half minutes of the contest. Blaker had eight of his 16 points during this run to help set the tempo.
The Raiders (11-8) never surrendered that lead.
"Tamaqua had a few days to prepare for us and they definitely scouted us well," said Lehighton head coach Rich Oertner. "We were a bit tired coming off of our game at East Stroudsburg South, but they did their homework on us and it showed."
Although the Indians did a good job for most of the game putting pressure on Tamaqua's star guard Bo Rottet, Oertner admitted his team got beat in other areas.
"They definitely outhustled us," said Oertner. "We got beat on the boards pretty bad and as a result we gave them a ton of second chance opportunities."
Brett Kosciolek and Adam Frantz, the starting power forward and center for the Raiders, did most of the dirty work inside.
Kosciolek, who missed about a month's worth of time with a concussion, showed minimal signs of rust as he had a game-high 20 points in the contest.
Frantz, on the other hand, was one Raiders who really stepped up during Kosciolek's absence. He continued his strong, confident play in the victory against Lehighton.
"He's a senior that is without a doubt one of our leaders," said coach Kosciolek. "We've been trying to get him to catch and shoot in rhythm, and he had a great game tonight. He does a lot of things well that don't always show up in the box score such as screen well and consistently box-out defenders."
At preseason media day a few months ago, coach Kosciolek explained that he had a talented and deep combination of players.
Having this deep rotation was certainly one advantage the Raiders had in their match up against a Lehighton team whose starters see a bulk of the playing time.
"We played really, really hard tonight especially on the defensive side of the ball," Kosciolek said. "Lehighton is a great team and we may end up seeing them again soon."
Kosciolek was refering to the fact that the win clinched a District 11 playoff berth for the Raiders and the possibility exists that the two teams could meet in the postseason.
"This is the first time we've made back-to-back district playoff appearances now in over a decade," said Kosciolek. "I'm very proud of the kids."
For Lehighton, 24 hours proved to be a world of difference offensively.
"We didn't make any shots," Oertner said. "Last night, we shot the lights out, but today was a different story. On the other hand, I was surprised as to how well everyone in Tamaqua's rotation shot the ball."
Lehighton's point guard Anthony Rossino was impressive. He knew the shots weren't falling for his squad, so he became aggressive in the second half in terms of taking the ball to the basket. Rossino finished with a team-high 18 points for the Indians.
Rossino 6-6-10-18 , Farano 4-2-2-11, Krum 3-2-4-8, Williams 0-2-2-2, Ruzika 0-0-0-0, Knappenberger5-0-0-13, Mele 1-0-0-2. TOTALS: 19-12-18-54.
Blaker 6-0-1-16, Miller 0-0-0-0, Rottet 2-8-10-12, Frantz 5-0-0-10, Tr Skripko 2-0-0-4, MacDonald 0-0-0-0, Marcin 0-0-0-0, Ty Skripko 1-2-2-4, Kosciolek 7-5-6-20, Chr Hartung 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 23-15-19-66.
Lehighton 12 20 9 13 - 54
Tamaqua 20 19 8 19 - 66
Three-pointers: Tamaqua - Blaker 4, Kosciolek 1; Lehighton - Knappenberger 3, Farano 1.