Tamaqua didn’t have its “A” game Friday night.
The normally high-powered, uptempo Blue Raider offense wasn’t hitting on all cylinders.
Fortunately for the Raiders, plan B and plan C more than made up for it.
Tamaqua overcame an ice cold perimeter shooting game with tremendous offensive rebounding and a lock down defensive effort to roll to a 59-34 Schuylkill League win over Lehighton.
The Raiders were 1-for-15 from behind the arc in the opening half, but it didn’t matter because of their execution in a couple of other areas.
Tamaqua pulled down 26 offensive rebounds in the game and held Lehighton to just 21 percent shooting from the field.
“We couldn’t buy a shot in the first half,” said Tamaqua coach Jim Barron. “I thought we moved the ball well against their 1-3-1 zone and got the looks we wanted. But we just couldn’t knock anything down.
“The good news is that we didn’t let that effect us in other areas. We pounded the offensive boards and got a lot of second and third chances, and we also did a really nice job defensively, especially on the perimeter.”
Despite its struggles from the floor, Tamaqua took an early lead and was never seriously threatened.
That’s primarily because as bad as Tamaqua was shooting (34 percent from the field for the game), Lehighton was even worse.
The Raiders jumped out to a 9-0 lead as the Indians didn’t hit their first shot until just 1:33 remained in the opening period. They finished the quarter just 1-for-13 from the floor.
“Tamaqua does a nice job of pressuring the ball in their halfcourt defense,” said Lehighton coach Trevor Miller. “But I thought we had some good looks in the first three or four minutes of the game — basically point blank layups — that if we could have knocked them down it might have changed things a little bit.
“But we didn’t convert and that just kind of set the tone for the game. We knew without Zach (Hunsicker) that we might be limited a little offensively, but when you’re missing your top scorer other people need to step up and that didn’t happen.”
Tamaqua (10-3, 5-1) led 11-3 after one quarter and 27-16 at the half.
The Raiders’ Brayden Knoblauch opened the third quarter with his first three-pointer of the night, and Tamaqua gradually increased its lead throughout the quarter, opening up a 43-22 lead.
“Brayden is one of the best shooters in the league. He missed a couple of open looks in the first half, but you know that isn’t going to continue,” said Barron. “So we set a double screen to get him a good look on our first possession of the third quarter and he knocked it down. I thought that was important and we followed it up by making a few more perimeter shots in the second half.
“I told all our kids at halftime not to worry about missing shots. If they have good shots we want them taking them because eventually they are going to fall.”
Knoblauch and Lucas Gregoire both recorded double-doubles in the game for the Raiders. Knoblauch had a game-high 16 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. Gregoire added 13 points and 14 boards.
Richard Yturrino led Lehighton (6-6, 3-3) with 10 points.
BIG BOARDS ... Nine of Lucas Gregoire’s rebounds came on the offensive end. His brother Nate Gregoire and Barron Stauffenberg both added four offensive boards. Lehighton also did a nice job of offensive rebounding as the Indians pulled down 17 of their own misses led by four each by Ben Schatz, Mason Costenbader and Yturrino.
OUT OF ACTION ... The Indians’ Hunsicker, who is averaging nearly 12 points a game, missed the contest with a stomach illness.
Strauss 0-2-2-2, Rehrig 1-0-0-2, Lorenz 2-0-0-5, Wolverton 0-0-0-0, Guyn 0-0-0-0, Smith 0-0-0-0, B. Lutz 1-0-1-2, Haydt 0-0-0-0, Constenbader 1-0-0-2, Yturrino 3-4-5-10, E. Lutz 2-0-0-6, Schatz 2-0-2-5. TOTALS: 12-6-10-34
Taras 0-0-0-0, Coleman 0-0-0-0, Knoblauch 7-0-0-16, Bollentino 1-0-0-2, Milot 0-0-0-0, Boyle 3-1-1-8, Sherry 0-0-0-0, Smith 0-0-0-0, N. Gregoire 3-1-2-7, L. Gregoire 5-3-4-13, Stauffenberg 2-4-6-9, Lavine 0-0-0-0, VanBuskirk 2-0-0-4. TOTALS: 23-9-13-59.
Lehighton 3 13 6 12 - 34
Tamaqua 11 16 16 16 - 59
Three-pointers: Lehighton - Lutz 2, Lorenz 1, Schatz 1. Tamaqua - Knoblauch 2, Boyle 1, Stauffenberg 1.