Palmerton tops Tigers to remain hot
It’s been a little while since Palmerton swept both regular season games with Northwestern.
But its 63-51 Colonial League win Tuesday night accomplished the feat in what is turning out to be a very strong season for the Blue Bombers.
Junior Kody Kratzer paced the winners with 27 points, as he continued to carry the hot hand for Palmerton.
The game started evenly, with both teams feeling their way through the first quarter and primarily staying with their outside shots. Both squads had two three-pointers in the opening minutes, and the first quarter ended with Palmerton holding a slim 16-13 advantage.
The Bombers looked to drive the ball inside more when the game shifted to the second quarter, and the plan turned out to be just the change they needed.
“The difference was that we didn’t get into the paint in that first quarter,” said Palmerton head coach Ken Termini. “Once we started to work inside more, things started to open up for us and we were able to get our offense rolling a little more.”
Coming out of halftime with a 28-20 lead, Palmerton went back to working inside and picked up the defensive intensity.
Northwestern struggled to hit shots and turned the ball over often, which only made matters worse. Before the Tigers realized it, they had fallen behind by as many as 14 points and finished the third quarter with a 38-26 deficit.
“We had trouble stopping them inside, and we didn’t rebound well,” said Tigers mentor Billy Hallman. “When we would stop them, they were able to find someone open outside, and they continued to hit those shots.”
Kratzer was shut down in the third quarter, so Palmerton went to Justin Hosier — who hit two three-pointers in the first two minutes of the fourth to open a 44-28 margin.
After that, Kratzer found his way back into the scoring column and also started to draw fouls. Hitting seven of nine foul shots over the final eight minutes helped Kratzer to a 13-point quarter as Palmerton opened up its advantage.
“It all comes from my team; they pass me the ball and set screens, and we do it as a team. It does feel great to be able to contribute like this in a big game,” Kratzer said.
Palmerton has won three straight to move to 10-4 overall and 8-3 in the league. Meanwhile, the loss was the third in the last four games for Northwestern, which fell to 7-7 overall and 4-6 in the CL.
“All of the pieces are there now for us, and our role players are doing great jobs filling in when we’ve needed them, so I think we’re starting to really pull together and ramp up for the important part of the season,” Termini said.
Northwestern continued to battle, even when it trailed by as many as 18 late in the final quarter.
Senior Luke Hallman fouled out with 2:46 to play, and Palmerton did all of the little things needed to hold off the rally, including Kratzer and Ryan King hitting six straight foul shots down the stretch.
Nick Henry led the Tigers with 20 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter.
HOT, HOT, HOT... Kratzer’s big night gave him three straight big games for the Bombers. In the last three games – all wins – he has averaged 29 points per game.
“Kody Kratzer is clearly one of the most talented players I’ve ever been around. He started as a freshman, and he’s really maturing,” said Termini. “Not only is he putting a lot of points up, but he’s making everyone around him better while he’s doing it, and he’s a great leader. That’s what makes him a very special player.”
PUT ME IN COACH... Hosier and fellow senior Tyler Christman were both out of the lineup recently battling illnesses. They returned to contribute in a 69-48 win over Notre Dame, and combined for 18 points against Northwestern.
Connell 3-2-3-8, Kratzer 9-7-11-27, White 0-0-0-0, King 1-2-2-4, Frank 0-0-0-0, Mooney 0-0-0-0, Christman 1-0-0-3, Kresge 0-0-0-0, Stuck 1-0-0-2, Hosier 6-0-0-15, Buck 2-0-0-4, Whitney 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 23-11-16-63.
Hebelka 0-0-0-0, Bollinger 5-2-5-14, McCann 2-0-0-6, Castrine 0-0-0-0, Henry 5-2-4-5-20, Hallman 2-2-2-6, Pleban 1-0-0-3, Garrido 1-0-0-2. TOTALS: 18-8-12-51.
Palmerton 16 12 10 25 - 63
N’western 13 7 6 25 - 51
Three-pointers: Palmerton - Hosier 3, Kratzer 2, Christman 1; Northwestern - Bollinger 2, Henry 2, McCann 2, Pleban 1.