Kratzer leads Bombers past Bulldogs
Palmerton’s Kody Kratzer (3) tries to dribble past Northern Lehigh’s Zach Moyer. For a video and photo gallery, go to www.tnonline.com. BOB FORD/TIMES
Kody Kratzer could only shake his head and smile.
“They kept feeding me the ball and it kept going in,” said the Palmerton junior.
Kratzer’s career night gave the Bombers plenty to be happy about on Wednesday night.
An electric first quarter from Kratzer provided the spark for Palmerton in a 58-57 Colonial League win over Northern Lehigh.
Kratzer lit the fuse for the Bombers with 12 of his game-high 30 points – including three of his six three-pointers – in the first period.
“It means a lot,” said Kratzer. “We’ve been working all summer, the entire offseason, just to come out here and try to get wins.”
It was a quick start that gave Palmerton (8-4) an early cushion – one it needed to hold off a strong second half from the Bulldogs.
“It was a great game,” said Northern Lehigh head coach Jeff Miller. “It would have been an awesome game to be a fan sitting in the stands where you have two tough teams that are rivals. But you just had an all-league player who played like an all-league player.
“I thought we did a really good job on him, but he made some tough shots. His first five shots were all contested, and didn’t hit the rim. But our kids battled. We had some kids afterward that were hanging their heads and I told them to pick themselves up because they gave themselves an opportunity to win.”
Kratzer poured in 19 of his points in the first two quarters to push the Bombers to a 28-24 halftime advantage.
The Bulldogs (2-11) slowly chipped away in the third period. Northern Lehigh went ahead twice in the quarter, first on a basket by Kole Richards (13 points) to take a 39-37 advantage with 2:07 remaining in the period, and again at 41-39 after a Jaden Marlatt (10 points) bucket with under a minute to play.
But a big three from Tyler Christman on Palmerton’s next possession made it 42-41 at the end of the third quarter.
Christman finished with eight points – all in the second half.
“Kody played fantastic, and he really carried us offensively, especially in the first half,” said Bombers’ head coach Ken Termini. “But what I was most pleased about offensively, and not taking anything away from Kody’s amazing performance, but was the balance of our scoring in the second half.
“That’s what I think carried us through the second half. A lot of credit goes to Northern Lehigh; Jeff Miller’s teams always play hard, and gutsy, and this is a rivalry that’s 214 games deep, so we knew they would battle, and they did.”
Palmerton never led by more than seven in the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs cut it to two points on four separate occasions, the last coming at 56-54 on a basket by Richards with 18.5 seconds left.
But the Bombers brilliantly executed the ensuing inbounds plays, and Ryan King knocked down two free throws with 15.5 seconds remaining to push the lead to 58-54, before coming up with a clutch steal.
A three-pointer by Zach Moyer in the final seconds set the final score.
Moyer scored a game-high 16 points for Northern Lehigh.
“They battle hard, and they give me everything they’ve got,” said Miller. “They leave it all on the court, and as coaches, that’s all we can ask for them to do, and they do that.
“We’ll come back in tomorrow and bust it again and get ready for Saucon Valley coming in here on Friday. And we’ll keep battling.”
CLOSE CALLS … Including Tuesday’s setback against Palmerton, six of Northern Lehigh’s losses this season have come by 10 points or less: Annville Cleona (53-50), Moravian (61-52), Salisbury (47-43), Lehighton (51-41) and Catasauqua (66-62).
LOOKING FOR MORE … The victory snapped a two-game losing streak for the Bombers, who face Notre Dame Green Pond (7-4) — ranked first in the District 11 Class 3A power ratings — on Friday. “I feel good, but I know we can do better,” said Kratzer. “We’re just working as hard as we can to keep going.” Palmerton edged Notre Dame 64-61 in last year’s Class 3A final.
Connell 2-1-4-5, Kratzer 10-4-4-30, White 1-0-0-3, King 1-2-2-4, Frank 0-0-0-0, Mooney 0-0-0-0, Christman 3-0-0-8, Kresge 0-0-0-0, Stuck 1-0-0-2, Buck 2-2-2-6. TOTALS: 20-9-10-58.
Hammond 2-1-2-6, Richards 4-5-8-13, Olewine 1-0-0-2, Smith 1-0-0-2, Moyer 6-2-2-16, Smith 2-3-4-8, Marlatt 5-0-0-10, Repsher 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 21-11-16-57.
Palmerton 15 13 14 16 - 58
N. Lehigh 10 14 17 16 - 57
Three-pointers: Palmerton – Kratzer 6, Christman 2, White 1. Northern Lehigh – Moyer 2, Smith 1, Hammond 1.