Lehighton powers past Panther Valley
Lehighton’s Zach Hunsicker drives to the basket between Panther Valley’s Rene Figueroa, left, Bryce Krapf (4) and Blake White, right. For a video go to www.tnonline.com. RON GOWER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
The gameplan wasn’t a complicated one.
And when it was executed, it showed that coaches sometimes do know what’s best.
Lehighton used its physical presence, especially in the third quarter, against Panther Valley on Friday night to pull away for a surprisingly easy 74-53 Schuylkill League victory.
“The bottom line for us was if we pounded the ball inside, I knew that we’d have success,” said Indians head coach Trevor Miller. “And ultimately, that’s kind of what happened.
“It’s funny, because we’ve talked about being physical and getting up in people and being the more physical team. I kind of laughed after the game as I was talking to them in the locker room because I said, ‘This is what you’re capable of doing.’ And they all kind of looked and said, ‘yeah, you’re right.’ It was just a great game for us.”
Leading by four points (31-27) at halftime, Lehighton combined its strength in the paint along with some hot shooting from the perimeter to put together its best quarter of the season.
Zach Hunsicker powered his way for three inside buckets, and Devon Heydt hit a pair of three-pointers as the Indians (5-10; 3-5) used a 25-8 frame to take command of the game.
“We just came out and put it to them,” said Hunsicker, who finished with 20 points and four offensive rebounds. “We had the size, so we came out and took it to them.
“At halftime, coach told us that in the first half we were just chucking threes, and in the second half, if we go in strong to the paint, we’ll win this game. We did and we came out with the W.”
The Panthers (11-4; 4-4) looked like they would taste victory when they jumped out to a 16-9 advantage behind 10 early points from Brandon Stilitino. But the Indians closed the quarter on an 8-0 run.
After PV regained the lead late in the second quarter, Lehighton closed the half with a 7-0 spurt, including a Hunsicker trey seconds before the period expired.
“I think a big key was the way the second quarter ended,” said Miller. “There was a stretch there where we got a loose ball and we ended up hitting the shot at the buzzer. That kind of just led into the third quarter. But that third quarter was by far the best quarter we’ve played all season.
“Our big guys played big. Zach Hunsicker was huge for us tonight. I thought Alex Potts was a force for us. Devon Heydt played well. We just had a lot of guys contributing for us tonight. Joel Acosta did a phenomenal job on Rene (Figueroa). It was just a total team effort.”
Addison Howland, who added five points in the third quarter, finished with 16 while Heydt chipped in with 12.
Panther Valley received a team-high 16 points from Stilitino, with Erick Marcharro contributing 12 and Figueroa netting 10.
“Coach Miller did a great job of having his kids ready to play,” said PV mentor Pat Crampsie. “I didn’t think our focus was where it needs to be and when your focus isn’t where it needs to be in Division 1, you’re going to get smacked and that’s what happened tonight. They smacked us. They smacked us good.
“They beat us in every aspect of the game. They were more physical than us. It felt like they got every rebound. It definitely felt like they got every loose ball. And when things snowballed on us and adversity hit, we did not handle it well. So, that was kind of the story of the night.”
SEASON HIGH ... The 74 points scored by Lehighton was a season-high, passing the 64 points they scored against Catasauqua on Dec. 29. The last time the Indians scored at least 74 points in a game was Feb. 4, 2016 (62 games ago) when they defeated Pine Grove by an 80-41 score.
SHOOTING STATS ... The Indians shot 28-of-65 (43.1 percent) from the floor, but were 15-of-26 (57.7 percent) in the second half. PV finished 22-of-57 from the field (38.6 percent).
JV GAME ... Lehighton rolled to a 54-26 victory in the opener. Noah Wolverton and Ethan Lutz each had 12 points to lead the Indians. The Panthers received a team-high 12 points from Collin Eidle.
Marcharro 5-1-4-12, Stilitino 6-0-0-16, Buzzard 0-0-0-0, Turner 3-0-0-7, Figueroa 4-2-3-10, White 2-0-0-4, Brettle 0-0-0-0, Eidle 0-0-0-0, Krapf 0-0-0-0, Miller 2-0-1-4, Hoben 0-0-0-0, Berk 0-0-1-0. TOTALS: 22-3-9-53.
Heery 1-0-0-3, Acosta 2-2-3-6, Hunsicker 9-0-0-20, Crum 1-0-2-3, Beers 0-0-0-0, Smith 0-0-0-0, Beatty 1-0-0-3, Heydt 3-3-4-12, Schwab 0-0-0-0, Howland 6-2-2-16, Yturrino 0-1-2-1, Lutz 0-0-0-0, Potts 2-0-0-4, Schatz 3-0-0-6. TOTALS: 28-8-13-74.
Panther Vy. 16 11 8 18 - 53
Lehighton 17 14 25 18 - 74
Three-pointers: Panther Valley - Stilitino 4, Marcharro 1, Turner 1; Lehighton - Heydt 3, Howland 2, Hunsicker 2, Heery 1, Crum 1, Beatty 1.