Tamaqua girls pull away from JT
Tamaqua’s Kirstin Jones (13) grabs a rebound in front of Jim Thorpe’s Devon Lignore (left) and Payton Kovac. Scan this photo with the Prindeo app for a video and photo gallery. BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS
A three-game losing streak can be demoralizing for some teams.
Pressure mounts. Mistakes are magnified.
After a 7-1 start, the Tamaqua girls basketball team closed out the first half of the season scuffling.
The Blue Raiders turned it around on Thursday night.
Tamaqua got back on track with a 59-31 Schuylkill League Division I victory over Jim Thorpe to open the second half of the season the way they started the year.
“This was a huge win for us, because we obviously came out of a slump,” said Blue Raider Kirstin Jones. “So we had our confidence set high because we needed this win.”
Three straight losses to Blue Mountain, Pine Grove and Lehighton had Tamaqua (8-4) reeling.
But a monster effort by Jones, who finished with 16 points and 23 rebounds, helped the Blue Raiders stop the slide and turn back the Olympians (5-6).
“Jones killed us tonight,” said Jim Thorpe head coach Rob Kovac. “We have to do a better job against her. Our boxing out in the middle was bad … we need to get on the boards. We need five people to rebound.
“We’re in front of her, but we’re not making enough contact. And she’s kind of going up over us. We didn’t do a real good job of keeping her off the glass. And credit to her, she’s a heck of a player. They’re too good of a team to give multiple possessions and multiple shots, and we just can’t do that.”
Emma Kuczynski added 17 points, 10 boards and eight assists to pace a balanced Tamaqua offense.
Emily Titus added 12 points, while Jamie Zuber scored nine.
“Emma’s obviously our spark, and I thought she saw the floor very well tonight,” said Blue Raiders head coach Erika Davis. “She got everybody involved. Kirstin had a huge game. She was due for that game. She stepped up. Jamie was hitting, Emma was hitting, Bek (Hromyak) was hitting. And that’s what we preach: team balance is what we need to be a successful unit.
“When these girls play on the same page, it’s amazing what they could accomplish. It’s just getting them on the same page and making sure that we’re making that extra pass, and seeing who has the hot hand, and getting them the ball.”
Tamaqua turned up the intensity with a 13-2 run to close out the second quarter and take a 30-25 lead into halftime. Hromyak buried a three in the first minute of the third quarter as the Blue Raiders took control in the second half.
“Coming out at halftime, we were just really focused on defense, and then coming out and moving the ball on offense as well,” said Kuczynski.
“We knew our defense was our biggest part of winning the game, so we really cut down on that, and that was our biggest focus,” added Jones.
The visitors clamped down on defense, holding the Olympians to just two field goals in the second half.
“I think our 3-2 zone is what worked well for us tonight,” said Davis. “We made adjustments at halftime; they were eating us alive man-to-man, so we had to make that adjustment and go 3-2. We thought that our length and our quickness in the zone was helpful.”
The switch turned the tide after a back-and-forth first quarter that featured eight lead changes and ended with Jim Thorpe up 16-15.
An Abbey McGinley three-pointer gave the Olympians a 23-17 lead with 4:58 remaining in the second quarter.
But a trey from Zuber at the other end started the Blue Raiders’ run.
STAT LINE … Natalia Richards scored eight points to pace Jim Thorpe, while Payton Kovac added seven.
JV GAME … Jim Thorpe won the JV game, 44-33.
Kane 0-0-0-0, Zuber 3-0-0-9, Hromyak 2-0-0-5, Jones 7-2-3-16, Boyle 0-0-0-0, Titus 6-0-0-12, Frederickson 0-0-0-0, Kuczynski 7-2-3-17, Reinhardt 0-0-0-0, Frederick 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 25-4-6-59.
Richards 4-0-0-8, P. Kovac 2-2-2-7, McGinley 2-0-1-5, Condly 0-0-0-0, Montemuro 1-0-0-2, Skrimcovsky 1-0-0-2, Lignore 2-0-0-4, Gabel 1-1-2-3, Craigie 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 13-3-5-31.
Tamaqua 15 15 15 14 - 59
Jim Thorpe 16 9 4 2 - 31
Three-pointers: Tamaqua – Zuber 3, Hromyak 1, Kuczynski 1. Jim Thorpe – P. Kovac 1, McGinley 1.