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Indians start the season with a bang

Lehighton’s basketball team grew up right before the eyes of a packed house in the Indians’ high school gymnasium on Friday night.

The young Tribe took their lumps a year ago, but they started the 2023-24 season off with a bang.

Lehighton’s offense exploded in the second half of its annual opener with Palmerton - especially from behind the arc - in an impressive 63-44 win over the Blue Bombers.

The first half showcased a high octane and fast-paced tempo from both ball clubs.

Palmerton led 14-12 after one quarter with backcourt mates Brayden Hosier and Matt Machalik combining for 12 points.

But in the second period, the Indians started to gain momentum and turned the tide of the game.

Lehighton was efficient during the frame, finishing on a 6-0 run, while also shooting 4-for-8 from the field in the quarter. Sophomore Blake Roberts was big for the Indians, scoring seven points in the second as he helped lead an offensive attack that was moving and sharing the ball exceptionally well.

The second was also the start of Palmerton’s offensive struggles, as they shot just 2-for-10 in the quarter.

“These guys have all played together for a very long time,” said Indian head coach Trevor Miller. “They know where to find each other out there. Cole Dietz and Blake Roberts really work well with each other and they showed that tonight.

“But the whole team moved the ball well tonight. And our guys also love to share the ball. I think you saw that with the way that they went out there and executed and competed.”

Lehighton continued to share the ball in the third as its offensive sets found open shooters, and its shooters knocked down those open shots.

Midway through the third, the Indians started to heat up from beyond the arc. With the game tied at 25-25, three consecutive triples from Brayden Johnson, Roberts and Dietz gave the Tribe a 34-27 lead.

Another run to close out the quarter paid dividends as back-to-back finishes at the bucket by Joe Roth and another three from Dietz capped off a 7-2 Lehighton surge that extended the Indians advantage to 44-34 heading into the fourth. Lehighton ended the third shooting 7-of-12. Palmerton, meanwhile, managed just a 6-for-16 effort.

“I don’t think it was just the fact that Lehighton shot the ball well tonight, I think they outplayed us in multiple elements of the game,” said Palmerton mentor Ken Termini. “Whether that was transition offense, being patient on offense, moving without the ball, or staying intense throughout the entire 32 minutes. You have to tip your cap to Coach Miller, his staff and his players.

“They’ve been working hard to get to this point for years, and again credit to them for their performance tonight. This is also a little bit of an eye opener for our guys. No excuses on our end, but after the long football season, we only had about 12 days to work, so we just need to continue to work and get better.”

A huge Lehighton run early in the fourth put the game away, aided by yet another three-point barrage. Two triples from Dietz, a three from Johnson and a deuce from Roth anchored an 11-2 run that pushed the Indian lead to 55-36.

“We had a good summer shooting the ball and when you look at the guys we put on the floor, we have guys that can shoot the rock,” said Miller. “There’s no doubt we rely on the outside shot and the three-point shot, but our guys have worked hard. I’m proud of the work that they have put in shooting the ball, and that hard work paid off tonight.”

LEADERS … For the Tribe, Dietz led the way with 17, hitting four three-pointers in the second half. Roberts and Roth each added 16. Johnson also chipped in with 11. Machalik and Hosier led Palmerton with 15 apiece.

HOT START ... The Indians were hot from the field all night. Lehighton hit 10 three-pointers in the game and went 7-for-11 from beyond the arc in the second half.


Machalik 6-2-2-15, Serfass 0-0-0-0, Scuccato 0-0-0-0, Grammes 2-2-2-2, Leister 2-0-0-4, Pengelly 1-0-0-2, Hosier 6-0-1-15, Reph 0-0-0-0, George 0-0-0-0, T. Stahler 1-0-0-2, L. Anthony 2-0-0-4. TOTALS: 18-4-5-44.


Serfass 1-1-2-3, Solt 0-0-0-0, Light 0-0-0-0, Fairchild 0-0-0-0, Hawk 0-0-0-0, Johnson 4-0-0-11, Roberts 5-4-4-16, Roth 6-4-5-16, Meek 0-0-0-0, Dietz 6-0-0-17, Cokrlija 0-0-0-0, Acosta-Rodriguez 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 22-9-11-63.

Lehighton 12 11 21 19 - 63

Palmerton 14 7 13 10 - 44

Three-pointers: Lehighton - Dietz 5, Johnson 3, Roberts 2; Palmerton - Hosier 2, Machalik 1.

Lehighton's Cole Dietz (right) drives the ball the basket as Palmerton's Corey Serfass defends. RICH SMITH/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS