Tamaqua girls pull away from Lehighton
Tamaqua’s Emma Kuczynski, left, and Jamie Zuber, right, pressure Tinaya Klotz (2) of Lehighton. RON GOWER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
Emma Kuczynski jogged off the court, slapping hands with teammates and coaches as she made her way down the Tamaqua bench.
Kuczynski took a seat.
And a breath, after providing the Raiders with a lift they needed.
Kuczynski scored 14 of her game-high 28 points in the fourth quarter to help Tamaqua pull away from Lehighton and claim a 51-33 Schuylkill League Division 1 win Friday night.
The junior started her surge with just over seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, and right after the Indians cut the lead to 35-31.
“We needed a spark,” said Raiders’ head coach Erika Davis. “She got her hand on a lot of balls on the top of our press; she was able to get a lot of points out in transition. That’s something she’s very good at, finishing around the basket, even if it’s after a miss, she’s very good at powering it right back up. She puts herself in that position to do that.”
“She got to the line a couple times, knocked her free throws down. But she picked us up definitely, and we kind of fed off of that. Our fourth quarter was our best quarter. That’s scary, but I’m happy with the way we finished.”
Tamaqua (10-2) had a strong start, scoring the first eight points of the game before building a 14-2 advantage with two minutes to play in the opening period.
But the Indians (6-7) never went away.
Twice in the third quarter the Tribe cut the deficit to three points, at 29-26 with 3:34 remaining, and again at 31-28 with 20 seconds left.
Alexis Solomon’s basket and free throw with 7:23 left in the fourth quarter brought Lehighton to within four at 35-31.
The Raiders buckled down the rest of the way, allowing just one field goal while outscoring the Indians 16-2.
“We were really looking to come out strong on defense, pick up the momentum, the pace, get a couple steals, and really focus on the defensive aspect and rebounding,” Kuczynski said, who also pulled down 10 boards to record a double-double.
“It definitely gets a little more tense, a little more competitive toward the end, but we like to keep that pace and momentum all throughout the whole game, and not just try to pick it up at the end.”
Emily Titus scored eight of her 12 points in the first half for Tamaqua.
“Everyone’s a threat out there,” Titus said. “Everyone can shoot, everyone can get to the basket, and it just helps the whole team.”
Tamaqua had four players record field goals in the first quarter with Jamie Zuber, Jen Frederickson, Titus and Kuczynski all finding the basket.
Solomon finished with 13 points for Lehighton. Tinaya Klotz also added six points.
“It was a ball game for three quarters,” said Indians head coach Joe Berezwick. “We played well in the middle (of the game), and went toe-to-toe with them. Credit to Tamaqua for getting off to a really good start; they jumped on us right away. But credit to my kids for not rolling over, because they made it a ball game.
“At the end, Tamaqua’s a really good team, and you just have to give them credit. We played really hard, and we just ran out of gas at the end, and that’s because they made us run out of gas.”
MORE THAN A GAME … Friday’s game was played in memory of Susan “Susie” Berezwick, who passed away in 2016. There was a table setup in the foyer area in her honor, and the gym was adorned in pink ribbons for the occasion. “Candy for a Cause” was being sold, with all proceeds going to breast cancer awareness. It marked the second consecutive year Lehighton and Tamaqua got together to support the cause, one that is near and dear to Berezwick, who also coached the Raiders. Berezwick was thrilled with the support and hopes the annual contest will continue to grow and raise awareness for the future.
ROLLING … Since back-to-back losses to Mahanoy Area and Jim Thorpe on Jan. 2 and Jan. 4, Tamaqua has been firing on all cylinders. The Raiders earned their third straight win Friday. During their run, they have outscored opponents 57.7-38.
CLIMBING … Kuczynski now has 1,139 career points, and is eighth place on Tamaqua’s all-time scoring list, surpassing Amanda Fenkner, who had 1,112.
JV … Lehighton won the junior varsity game, 44-36.
Kane 0-0-0-0, Zuber 2-0-0-5, Hromyak 0-0-0-0, Boyle 1-0-0-2, Titus 5-0-0-12, Hope 0-0-0-0, Frederickson 2-0-1-4, Kuczynski 11-6-7-28, Reinhardt 0-0-0-0, Frederick 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 21-6-8-51.
Klotz 2-1-4-6, Brown 1-0-0-2, H. Miller 1-2-2-4, E. Miller 2-0-0-4, Pantella 2-0-0-4, Fisher 0-0-0-0, Solomon 6-1-1-13. TOTALS: 14-4-7-33.
Tamaqua 14 13 6 18 - 51
Lehighton 6 13 9 5 - 33
Three-pointers: Tamaqua – Zuber 1, Titus 2. Lehighton – Klotz 1.