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Palmerton’s Dougherty cashes in on opportunity

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    Palmerton’s Nate Dougherty goes up into the bleachers to hug his mother Jamie during a stoppage in play after he scored his 1,000th career point. BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS

Published January 19. 2019 12:22AM

When opportunity knocks, open the door. It’s a saying that most people have heard at some point or another in their life, but for Palmerton senior Nate Dougherty, that well-known phrase certainly identifies with his career as a Bomber. After playing on the Palmerton freshman team during the 2015-16 season, Dougherty got his chance as a sophomore to see significant varsity minutes.

And the Bombers’ newest 1,000-point scorer made the most of his opportunity,

As a sophomore, Dougherty was named to the Times News Basketball All Star Team as an Honorable-Mention selection, averaging 15 points per game. Dougherty was excited to get his first opportunity two seasons ago to make a difference on the hardwood for the Bombers.

“Going from playing on the freshman team during my freshman year, then being able to jump up to varsity the next season and have such a big role was exciting, it’s what I worked for,” said Dougherty. “I’ve played basketball since I can remember, it’s something that I really love. Coach also really helped me throughout the years, he helped me get here, as well as my family, friends and teammates. It was great to share that moment of scoring 1,000 points in front of a home crowd with everybody.”

Dougherty not only made the best of his opportunity since his sophomore season, he also created many scoring opportunities throughout his career. After a breakout 2016-17 campaign, Dougherty was a second team Colonial League All Star selection and was named a first team Times News Basketball All Star in his junior season, where he averaged 16.17 points per game, which was good for fourth best in the Times News area.

Dougherty’s scoring prowess has been about getting to the rim – even though he can mix in the pull up jump shot or three-ball when required – but it has been his ability to get to the bucket and get to the foul line that has made him so tough to defend. The senior’s aptitude in getting a defender on his hip and causing contact when attacking the basket has been one of his most effective weapons in his arsenal. Dougherty got to the foul line an impressive 154 times last season (6.6 per game), and with six games to go this year, he’ll be right around that figure again, having gone to the line 98 times with six regular season games remaining.

Dougherty’s proven ability to consistently get to the basket was once again on display just six days ago on Monday night, where he scored a career-high 36 points and surpassed the 1,000-point mark in a big Colonial League victory over rival Northwestern Lehigh. Dougherty went to the foul line 13 times in that game.

“Nate has just always been a mentally focused kid, who loves to work on his game, he’s a true gym rat type player, and there’s no doubt about it, he was focused coming into our game against Northwestern Lehigh,” said Palmerton head coach Ken Termini. “He put forth a great individual effort. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a kid go off for 36 on the night where he came into the game where he could possibly reach 1,000 points. That was awesome.”

After a strong sophomore and junior season, Dougherty has seemed to have saved the best for last. Sixteen games in, he’s averaging 20.1 points per game and has the Bombers in the hunt once again for a District 11 Class 3A playoff berth after he helped Palmerton qualify for the postseason a season ago for the first time since 2013.

“Scoring 1,000 points is great, sharing this moment with my coaches, teammates, family and friends has been great, but that’s honestly not where my focus is right now, that’s not what’s important to me now,” said Dougherty. “My focus is on trying to help us get to leagues and districts, and hopefully putting a medal around my teammates’ necks. That’s our goal, and that’s our focus.”

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