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Panther Valley knocks off Indians

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    Erick Marchorro (1) of Panther Valley attempts to dribble past Lehighton’s Carter Strauss. RON GOWER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS

Published December 31. 2019 10:46AM

Panther Valley head coach Patrick Crampsie knew his squad had a tall task ahead in a battle against Lehighton on Monday.

Not only was it at Lehighton’s home gymnasium, it was also the Panthers’ third game in four days, causing some concern for the veteran coach.

The way his players responded to the challenge drew some relief from Crampsie, as a big defensive stand in the fourth period – and a better showing on the boards down the stretch – led the Panthers to a 57-51 Schuylkill League win.

“It’s a huge win, because we’re coming off a weekend where we had three games in four days, and two of them against rivals in Marian and Lehighton,” Crampsie said. “Also, any time you get a Schuylkill League win on the road, it’s special and it’s a great way for us to end the year.”

Trailing the Tribe 44-40 after three frames, the Panthers went on a run to begin the final eight minutes after Erick Marcharro drove down the lane. PV tied it at 44-44 on its next possession with an in-bounds play to Blake White.

The Indians couldn’t find a bucket in the fourth, something that seemed to come easily in the first three periods. A Brandon Stilitino three, and a Marcharro turn-around basket in the lane made it 49-44 with just under four minutes to go.

“We talked to our guys about attacking their zone,” Lehighton head coach Trevor Miller said. “I thought we missed some easy ones, offensively as well, but our biggest problem during that stretch was not attacking.”

Devon Haydt did just that on the Tribe’s next play and cut the Panther lead to three. But Marcharro responded again for the Panthers with a trey, and Aaron Gutierrez hit a baseline jumper to push the advantage to 54-46.

The Tribe continued to battle, and cut it to three again when Zach Hunsicker drilled a pull-up triple to cut the PV lead to 54-51 with 35 seconds left. But Stilitino sealed the win by going 3-for-4 at the free throw line down the stretch.

“I’m super proud of the kids for fighting through every possession, especially after a disappointing Friday night in a similar situation,” Crampsie said. “Tonight, they found a way to get it done and really pick it up when they needed to, especially on the defensive end.”

The Panthers seemed to find another gear in the late stages of the contest, while Lehighton seemed to run out of pep. The Panthers also stepped up their rebounding considerably.

After managing only 19 rebounds in the first three frames, they pulled down 14 boards in the final period.

“Lehighton is an extremely athletic and physical team, so we had to focus on getting a body on someone, instead of just trying to just go get that rebound before making any contact,” Crampsie said about his team’s late rebounding burst.

In fact, through the first three periods, Lehighton held a 28-19 edge on the glass, but finished with a 37-33 edge for the game. Both teams handled the pressure of the other side well, as Panther Valley committed only 10 turnovers to the Tribe’s 14.

STAT SHEET ... Looking at the individuals, Lehighton was led by Hunsicker with a team-high 18 points, while Ben Schatz tallied nine and Haydt added eight. Stilitino’s 19 led the way for the Panthers. Gutierrez (14), Marcharro (12) and White (10) also scored in double figures.

JV ... Lehighton posted a 53-31 win in the opener, as Mason Costenbader’s 14 points paced the Tribe.

PANTHER VALLEY

Marcharro 5-0-0-12, Gutierrez 5-1-2-14, Stilitino 5-5-7-19, Krapf 0-0-0-0, Eidle 1-0-3-2, Haden 0-0-0-0, White 4-1-2-10. TOTALS: 20-7-14-57.

LEHIGHTON

Strauss 2-0-0-6, Hunsicker 6-3-4-18, Lorenz 1-0-0-2, Smith 1-0-0-3, Haydt 3-0-0-8, Costenbader 0-0-0-0, Yturrino 1-0-0-2, Schatz 4-1-2-9, Lutz 1-0-0-3. TOTALS: 19-4-6-51.

Panther Valley 11 15 14 17 - 57

Lehighton 11 13 20 7 - 51

Three pointers: PV - Stilitino 4, Gutierrez 3, Marcharro 2, White 1; L - Hunsicker 3, Strauss 2, Haydt 2, Lutz 1, Smith 1.

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