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JT girls win title at Bash at the Beach

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    Northwestern’s Deven Bollinger tries to put up a shot over Donovan Keyes of Catasauqua during a game this weekend at the Bash at the Beach Tournament. NANCY SCHOLZ/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS

Published June 24. 2019 12:53PM

ALLENTOWN—Dunmore left Jim Thorpe head coach Rob Kovac scratching his head after an early morning loss on Sunday sent the Olympians into the consolation bracket of the “Bash at the Beach” tournament.

About nine hours later, Kovac must have come up with a few answers.

Jim Thorpe avenged that loss by defeating Dunmore in Sunday’s girls’ championship game, 44-38. The Olympians finished the tournament going 6-1.

“Between this and summer league, we get to give our kids probably 20-25 basketball games in the summer,” Kovac said. “Basketball has almost become a 12-month out of the year (sport) for some of them. … Last year we did this and I don’t think we win the Schuylkill League championship if we’re not down here getting battle-tested in the summer. And I don’t think we reach a district final.”

District 2’s Dunmore, while a bit of a different team from in the winter, played for a state 3A crown last season. So, taking down the Bucks was a bit of an upset, especially after losing to that same team earlier in the day.

But the addition of center Olivia Smelas, who missed the entire tournament except for the Olympians’ final two games, certainly was a difference-maker.

“We return a lot of kids from last year, but every year it’s a new basketball team even if you bring kids back because there’s new kids on the team and you lose kids,” Kovac said. “We played this weekend without Olivia, who is a huge factor for us.”

Smelas scored seven points in the finals of the consolation bracket to beat Emmaus and advance to a rematch against Dunmore. She then poured in 20 against Dunmore. All-state point guard Skyler Searfoss scored 11 against the Hornets and was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament.

Skyler, Smelas and Leila Hurley started all 28 games for the Olympians last fall, so Kovac brings back a strong foundation.

But the additions of a number of underclassmen have opened his eyes this summer. Mackenzie Yuhas scored 21 points against Allen in Jim Thorpe’s third of five games on Sunday. Darcy Light also played big minutes throughout the tournament for the Olympians. Both are only going to be freshman.

“From my perspective, what’s really been great this weekend is we got to see Mackenzie Yuhas come into her own; she’s only going to be a freshman,” Kovac said. “And Darcy Light. They played huge minutes, and those kids haven’t stepped foot into high school yet. They are only going to be freshmen in September.”

Jim Thorpe also defeated Emmaus’s JV team, Allen (twice) and Whitehall in the tournament.

Another Times News area team was playing for a championship on Sunday evening, this one on the boys’ side. Unfortunately, Palmerton’s impressive run came to an end against Salisbury in the small school division championship game, 46-41.

“They’re in the same [Colonial League] division as us, and I know their coach well,” Palmerton head coach Ken Termini said. “I think it’s remarkable what Salisbury did. They lost their first game and battled all the way back to the championship. That’s tough to do.”

Palmerton, which was slotted in the smaller school bracket that included eight PIAA Class 4A teams, benefited from tournament director Glenn Klein splitting the boys teams into two separate tournaments.

“There’s a lot of benefits in doing the small school bracket,” Termini said. “I think for a lot of teams that maybe wouldn’t have stayed alive for awhile had the opportunity to.

“Our goal this year is to really tighten ourselves up to be more consistent. I think that our summer schedule allows us to do that. We’ve run into some good teams. They say it’s a small school bracket, but eight of the teams are Class 4A or larger.”

Palmerton, which captured a district title before falling in the District 11/1 Class 3A subregional final to New Hope-Solebury, got a strong outing all tournament from rising junior combo guard Kody Krotzer. Justin Hosier missed the Blue Bombers’ opening game against Warren Hills on Thursday, and worked his way back into the rotation over the course of the next two days.

The Blue Bombers also defeated Notre Dame-Green Pond, Pleasant Valley and Lincoln Leadership before coming up short against Salisbury.

LARGE SCHOOL WINNER ... Wilson West Lawn went a perfect 5-0 in capturing the large school championship. Wilson West Lawn defeated Easton in Sunday’s final, 58-45.

WHO ELSE PLAYED? ... A number of other Times News area teams were featured across the tournaments. On the boys’ side, Pleasant Valley went 4-2, Northwestern went 2-2, both Panther Valley and Northern Lehigh won a game, and Lehighton went 0-2. The Lehighton girls went 1-2.

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