Mele, Crum lead Indians
Mike Feifel/TIMES NEWS Lehighton's Anthony Rossino drives to the basket against Nick Wiggins of Pocono Mountain East during Friday's Mountain Valley Conference game.
The resiliency of a team can tell plenty about their chemistry and character.
At numerous points throughout the course of a season, programs have opportunities to show what they're really made of and Lehighton took its chance to do so against Pocono Mountain East.
After a dismal outing against Catasauqua, the Tribe wanted to step out on their home court and prove they can bounce back with a strong showing. Outscoring the Cardinals in every quarter, and getting contributions from each player on the roster, the Indians scalped their Mountain Valley Conference foes, 65-38, and improved to 8-5 on the season.
"I think because we lost to Catty so badly the other night, we really wanted to come out and show what we could do," center Vince Mele said.
"It was a huge win, too, if we want to have a chance at making league and district playoffs," Tyler Crum added.
"I thought we did a really good job tonight of moving the ball well and getting each other the ball and it showed what we are capable of, as a team," Mele said.
The tandem of Crum and Mele were near impossible to contain throughout the contest. Mele was constantly finishing possessions down low, if Crum wasn't nailing a three-pointer or making a great play. Mele finished with a game-high 28 points and six boards, while Crum poured in six treys and finished with 23 points and six boards. Teammate James Farano contributed a double-double with 10 assists and 11 rebounds while point guard Anthony Rossino had eight assists.
Meanwhile, the Tribe's defense was stifling East as relentless switching caused fits for the visitors.
"I think we confused them a lot at times with our defense," Lehighton coach Rich Oertner said. "We switched defenses every couple of times and that kept them a little bit off balance."
The Tribe started out of the gates with a 10-0 run and when Jordan Knappenberger hit a trey off a fast break, that capped off a 16-7 first frame. Another 10-0 run to start the second made it 26-7 with 6:20 left in the second, before the Cardinals went on a run of their own.
Pocono Mountain closed out the first half with a 15-8 scoring edge to make it a 12-point lead for the Tribe at halftime.
"I think they had a great game plan and we failed to execute what our game plan was," Cardinal head coach Pete Dyson said. "In the second half, I think we got a little tired and were standing and settling for shots, rather than driving. But give a lot of credit to them. They were fantastic tonight."
In the third session, Mele and Crum amassed all but one point (a Rossino charity toss), as Mele nailed 12 in the period. To end the third, Farano made four straight feeds to Mele, and after Crum rattled off the first seven points of the fourth frame, that put in the final nail.
"Again, tonight was a much better game for us than the Catty game, and hopefully, we can keep things going in that right direction," Oertner said.
Lehighton also pulled out a 48-38 win in the JV game. Tanner Zwetolitz scored 13 points for the winners.
POCONO MOUNTAIN EAST
Hardmon 2-0-0-5, Sarijian 0-0-0-0, Yarosh 0-0-0-0, Carter 3-0-0-6, Leonard 0-0-0-0, N. Wiggins 2-0-0-4, Steckel 3-2-2-8, Woody 1-0-0-2, Hudson 0-0-0-0, Moses 0-0-0-0, J. Wiggins 3-1-1-7, Camas 2-0-0-5, Burgos 0-1-2-1, Lamar 0-0-0-0, Lake 0-0-0-0, Farbes 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 16-4-5-38.
Rossino 2-1-2-5, Farano 2-0-0-4, Crum 8-1-2-23, Zwetolitz 0-0-0-0, Williams 0-0-0-0, McCandless 0-0-0-0, Cordova 1-0-0-2, K. Knappenberger 0-0-0-0, Ruzika 0-0-0-0, Chambers 0-0-0-0, J. Knappenberger 1-0-0-3, Mele 13-2-2-28. TOTALS: 27-4-6-65.
PM East 7 15 10 6 - 38
Lehighton 16 18 18 13 - 65
Three pointers: PM East - Hardmon 1, Camas 1; Lehighton - Crum 6, J. Knappenberger 1.