Strong start lifts Lehighton girls
“It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish” is a popular saying in the world of sports.
But on opening night of high school basketball across the Times News area, the Lehighton girls decided to challenge that time honored adage.
That’s because it was Lehighton’s great start that helped it to hang on despite a rough second half.
The Indians defeated Palmerton, 36-32, in a non-league game.
“Our big start was the key, we were able to get out to a pretty good lead in the first half, that’s why you’re talking to me first as the winning coach, because of that start,” said Indians head coach Joe Berezwick. “Credit goes to Palmerton, because they came out and played well in the second half. A play here or there at the end you might be talking to their coach first. The great start is why we got this win.”
It was a great start for Lehighton as it jumped out to a 10-4 lead after one and a 24-10 lead at the half. Emily Miller, a key returnee from last season’s Tribe squad, collected nine boards and four points in the first half to help produce the 14-point intermission advantage.
The Indians’ defense also gave Palmerton issues in the first half as the Tribe came out in a 1-3-1 zone in the first quarter and forced eight Bomber turnovers.
“We didn’t pass the ball very effectively in the first half. That’s something we need to be better at,” said Palmerton head coach Dan Beck. “We also weren’t finding the soft spots in the zone, but in the second half we did a better job of giving each other passing lanes,
“I’m just very proud of the girls and how they battled in the second half ... battling back and making it a game.”
The Bombers certainly got into battle formation in the second half, closing to within 10 at the end of the third. It was Palmerton’s defense that was the difference, holding Lehighton to just three points in the stanza and forcing six turnovers.
In the fourth, Lehighton had its chance to pull away, but Palmerton wouldn’t go quietly into the night. With the Tribe already leading 29-17 at the six-minute mark, Lillian Brown hit a timely triple to give them a 15-point lead. But the Bombers would answer going on an 11-2 run to close to within six with 2:15 remaining.
However, from there on Lehighton would do just enough at the foul line to keep the Bombers at an arms length. Palmerton would give it one last gasp with the Indians leading by eight and 30 seconds left, the Bombers’ Raegan Nemeth came through with a three-pointer to her team hope. But Lehighton withstood the final run to post the victory.
“Tonight you could see both teams are trying to find out who they are. It was a tough test,” said Berezwick. “We’re happy to come away with a road win in game one.”
LEADERS ... Baylee Guedes was a big reason for Palmerton’s comeback in the second half. She scored nine of her game-high 13 points in the second half and also collected double digit rebounds on the night. For Lehighton, Brown and Hailey Miller led the way with nine points each.
FREQUENT FOULS ... There was a lot of trips to the foul line in the fourth quarter. The teams went to the line a combined 21 times in the fourth.
Klotz 0-1-4-1, Brown 2-4-6-9, Long 0-1-3-0, H. Miller 4-1-3-9, Marchessault 2-0-0-4, E. Miller 2-1-1-7, Pantella 0-0-0-0, Fisher 0-0-0-0, Solomon 2-1-2-5. TOTALS: 12-9-19-36.
H. Guedes 0-0-0-0, B. Guedes 2-9-13-13, Papay 1-2-3-4, Cincilla 1-1-4-4, Recker 2-1-2-7, Nemeth 1-1-2-4. TOTALS: 7-14-24-32.
Lehighton 10 14 3 9 - 36
Palmerton 4 6 7 15 - 32
Three pointers: Lehighton - Brown 1, E. Miller 1, Palmerton - Recker 2, Nemeth 1.