Tamaqua holds off Panther Valley
Tamaqua’s Michael Bonetsky drives to the basket despite the defensive effort of Panther Valley’s Erick Marchorro. For a video and photo gallery go to www.tnonline.com. BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS
Brayden Knoblauch gets a lot of attention, and for good reason.
The Tamaqua junior leads the team in scoring, and has shown the ability to take over a game with more than just his shooting.
But Knoblauch isn’t the Raiders’ only threat.
Lucas Gregoire’s double-double helped Tamaqua turn back Panther Valley 73-64 for a key Schuylkill League Division 1 victory on Tuesday.
“We were very concerned with Knoblauch and Gregoire,” said Panthers head coach Pat Crampsie. “And Gregoire was just so difficult to contain, and we tried a couple different things. He’s just a heck of a player, and they did a great job of finding him and a great job of adjusting.”
Gregoire finished with a team-high 19 points and 18 boards for the Raiders (10-4, 5-2).
“They started going (with) a box-and-one on Brayden, so they started focusing on him,” said Gregoire, who was averaging 16.23 points per game entering the contest. “So our game plan was to pound the paint, and it worked out. We should have finished more, but we got some buckets off of it.”
The junior took advantage of the early opportunity, scoring 11 points in the first half.
“We knew what we were going to get,” said Tamaqua head coach Jim Barron. “I wasn’t expecting a box-and-one … but we knew, our game plan was we were going to try and get the ball to the corner, get the ball inside to Lucas.
“And he made a couple shots early on … but our game plan was to try and find him inside.”
Knoblauch, who had two points in the first half, finished with 17 points and added 13 rebounds.
“They do it every night,” Barron said of Knoblauch and Gregoire. “I think they’re both averaging like eight rebounds a game for us. Those are the two guys who really hit the glass hard. They box out, they want the ball, and they’re really aggressive. That’s what we look for on defense. They’re two of our leaders.”
Michael Bonetsky finished with 12 points, while Devon Zehner tallied 11.
The performances loomed large as Panther Valley (11-3, 5-2) rallied in the fourth quarter.
Two free throws from Knoblauch with 7:17 remaining in the final period pushed Tamaqua’s advantage to 54-37.
The Panthers got a huge effort from Rene Figueroa, who scored 15 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter.
Figueroa converted on a drive to the basket with 1:25 to play in the fourth to cut the deficit to 65-61.
The Panthers had a chance to make it a one-point game on a three-pointer with over a minute remaining, but couldn’t get it to fall, and made just one field goal the rest of the way as the Raiders iced the game with free throws.
Erick Marchorro and Trey Turner scored 11 points apiece for PV.
“We knew going into this game they were going to be aggressive and scrappy,” said Knoblauch. “And that’s what we had to prepare for practicing this week. We knew ... they were going to run it and shoot the ball, and we just had to be in shape, and box out very well, and that’s what we did tonight.”
The Panthers hit nine 3s in the game, with Figueroa knocking down four, including three in the final quarter. Turner hit two treys in the fourth frame.
“Shots that typically fall for us weren’t,” said Crampsie. “But I do think that’s because we didn’t do a good job of moving the ball as we normally do. Too many of those shots weren’t off reversals, weren’t off kicks; we had too many (shots) off the dribble. They just weren’t the clear looks that we usually move the ball to work to get.
“I was happy with our effort, and our grit to get back into the game. But I think there were too many key moments where we just lost focus a bit, and didn’t come up with an offensive rebound, or we put the wrong guy on the line ... and against Tamaqua, you’re not going to beat them when those things happen.”
LOGJAM … Pottsville and Blue Mountain are atop the Division 1 standings at 7-0 and 6-1, respectively. Tamaqua (5-2) and Panther Valley (4-3) are right behind as the second half of the division schedule is set to begin on Friday.
Marchorro 5-0-1-11, Stilitino 1-2-3-5, Krapf 0-0-0-0, Eidle 0-0-0-0, Buzzard 2-1-1-5, Turner 4-0-0-11, Figueroa 10-2-5-26, Miller 0-0-0-0, White 3-0-0-6, Brettle 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 29-5-10-64
Bonetsky 4-2-3-12, Stianche 3-2-8-9, Knoblauch 5-7-8-17, Zehner 5-1-2-11, Agosti 2-1-2-5, N. Gregoire 0-0-0-0, L. Gregoire 7-5-10-19, Stauffenberg 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 26-18-33-73
Panther Vy. 19 7 9 29 - 64
Tamaqua 19 9 24 21 - 73
Three-pointers: Panther Valley - Figueroa 4, Turner 3, Machorro 1, Stilitino 1. Tamaqua - Bonetsky 2, Stianche 1.