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Fast start lifts ND past Palmerton

The effort was there.

The execution? Well, that was a different story.

Palmerton was undoubtably ready - maybe a little too ready - for its Colonial League semifinal matchup with Notre Dame Wednesday night at Catasauqua.

The Blue Bombers fell behind early and were forced to play catch-up - something they could never fully do - and ended up dropping a 59-43 decision to the Crusaders.

“The effort wasn’t the problem,” said Palmerton head coach Ken Termini of his team. “They played hard ... But we missed 15 shots at the rim, and we were 1-for-15 from three-point range. And nobody’s winning nothing with that.

“We lacked poise and our minds were racing, and we were moving our bodies too fast in the first half. And that hurt us. When we slowed our minds down after halftime and came out and played with poise, we played really well. But it just didn’t work out.”

Whether it was too much adrenaline, or Notre Dame’s defense, the Bombers looked out of control at times and consistently missed shots while driving to the basket during the first half. On the flip side, the top-seeded Crusaders were running their offense well, connecting on passes and converting inside.

The result was a double-digit Crusader lead by the end of the first quarter and a 30-15 spread by halftime.

“We worked on protecting the paint, protecting against back door cuts and flashes - which is what Notre Dame is very good at,” said Termini. “And it just didn’t carry over today for some reason.

“Give Notre Dame credit. I think their kids played really hard and really well. They get open looks, they knock them down. They finish at the rim. They played a complete game.”

Chase Marcks did most of the damage for the Crusaders during the first 16 minutes, collecting 12 points on six field goals. Five of those six buckets were in the paint.

“We executed really well, and we were able to get off to that big lead,” said Notre Dame mentor Pat Boyle. “And we needed it, because they came back and cut it to seven and had the ball, and really had all the momentum. Luckily, we stepped up and made enough plays. It was a possession or two away from it getting really interesting.”

The halftime break served Palmerton well, as evidenced by its start in the third quarter.

Brayden Hosier and Kendall Robinson both hit inside baskets during the opening minute to start a 10-2 run that pulled the No. 4 seed Bombers within seven points at 32-25. Palmerton (18-6) had chances to cut the gap even more, forcing a pair of Crusader turnovers, but missed three straight shots.

A couple layups from Cameron Bohn, and a driving shot by Zach Rodgers, helped Notre Dame (20-3) regain its double-digit advantage a few minutes later. The margin never got below 10 the rest of the way.

“We literally sat in the locker room and talked about slowing our minds down and visualizing our most successful moments of the season,” said Termini of what Palmerton did at the break to trigger its success in the second half.

“Once again, the effort wasn’t a problem, but we weren’t poised. We were sped up by ourselves, not by them. We also had to knock down shots.”

Because the Crusaders knocked down their shots - including 14 free throws in the final frame to seal the victory - they will be playing Saucon Valley on Friday for a shot at the league title.

“Notre Dame and Saucon are great representatives of the league, and I’m sure it’s going to be a great championship game,” said Termini.

Asked how his team would rebound from the loss in preparation for districts, the Palmerton coach said, “We have 10 days, so we’ll be fine.”

SCORING LEADERS ... Dainn Vassallo had 16 points, eight in each half, to lead the Crusaders. Marcks and Zach Rodgers both finished with 15. For the Bombers, Hosier was high man with 16 points. Matt Machalik added eight.

SPEAKING OF MACHALIK ... Machalik’s points pulled him within 11 of reaching 1,000 for his career. The junior had just one field goal in the contest. “We put Cameron Bohn on (Machalik), and he’s one of the best on-ball defenders we’ve ever had,” said Boyle. “He can make it tough for any player. Matt’s a really good player and he needed 19 points for 1,000, and we felt if we kept him under, that we’d have a real good chance to win.”


Machalik 1-6-6-8, Sebelin 0-0-0-0, Robinson 2-0-2-4, Reph 3-1-2-7, Rumfield 0-0-0-0, Leister 1-1-2-4, Serfass 0-0-0-0, Grammes 2-0-0-4, Hosier 8-0-0-16, Stahler 0-0-0-0, Z. Anthony 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 17-8-12-43.


Miles 0-0-0-0, Rodgers 4-6-10-15, Boyle 1-4-4-7, Bohn 2-2-2-6, Vassallo 6-4-4-16, Smith 0-0-0-0, Hobbie 0-0-0-0, Marcks 7-1-3-15. TOTALS: 20-17-23-59.

Palmerton 6 9 12 16 - 43

Notre Dame 17 13 9 20 - 59

Three-pointers: Palmerton - Leister 1; Notre Dame - Rodgers 1, Boyle 1.

Palmerton's Kendall Robinson lays up a shot as Notre Dame's Colin Boyle defends. NANCY SCHOLZ/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS