Tide can’t ‘slow down’ Thorpe
POTTSVILLE – Render unto Cesar what is Cesar’s.
The Jim Thorpe-Pottsville Schuylkill League Division I girls’ basketball contest, sort of reminded one of the great Roman Emperor Nero who fiddled while Rome burned.
In this case, Olympian coach Rob Kovac let his counterpart Curt Ziegmont play out the first half uncontested. The Crimson Tide just fiddled with the ball as nary an Olympian contested defensively for the entire second quarter on Wednesday.
Very seldom was the ball bounced and the only semblance of action was when the Tide turned the ball over with 2.8 seconds to play. The period ended with not a point scored and not one shot taken.
But in the second half, Jim Thorpe forced the Tide to ignite some action and Pottsville burned.
In a flurry to open the second half, Jim Thorpe did its usual bit — attack, attack, and keep on attacking. It turned to an unsung junior Kristen Scott to lift get the fire started, and before the Tide could collect their collective breaths, Jim Thorpe came up huge in the second half to ring up an impressive 36-17 dusting.
Scott was at the forefront in the rally. She either was stealing balls, nailing baskets, or driving and dishing en route to a 12-point outing.
“She may be the fourth or fifth player on that team, but she just sparked them, you saw it,” said Ziegmont. “I mean, she makes some plays and hits some big baskets when it was close and that just seemed to lift them.”
The normalcy for Jim Thorpe revolves around three very talented freshmen — Leila Hurley, Sky Searfoss and Oliva Smelas. Although Searfoss dropped in 13 points for game honors, the Olympians needed a stop gap effort from Scott.
“She obviously can do the job when she’s called upon,” said Kovac. “(Scott) gives us that extra effort. Yeah we have Livs inside, and Sky and Leila can score, but they were held in check, and so too was (Natalia) Richards, so we needed the type of game from Kristen. This is all about team.”
In recording its 14th straight win, Thorpe found itself in a pickle with Hurley and Richards saddled with foul trouble after a quarter of play. The Olympians were holding a narrow 9-7 lead at that point thanks to a Smelas putback with 2:01 to play in the first quarter.
Then Ziegmont had his team hold the ball for the final 121 seconds, before opening the second period in the same approach. Kovac kept to his guns.
“It didn’t matter what the score was,” said the Olympian coach. “It was just like being ahead 28-26 instead of 9-7. We led.”
“No way did I ever think they would let us hold the ball,” Ziegmont said. “Absolutely (I would do it again). One-hundred-and-ten percent. Did you see what happened in the third quarter?”
It was lights out.
Thorpe roared like thunder in reeling off 15 unanswered points, going from a taut 17-14 lead to a commanding 34-14 advantage.
And in a flash, Jim Thorpe owned the Tide for the second time this season.
“This was a unique game,” said Kovac. “(Assistant coach) Brian (Carroll) just said it in the locker room. Twenty years of coaching, and this was different.”
In a way yes, but the outcome stays the same for this undefeated Thorpe club.
NUMBERS… Thorpe, which beat Pottsville, 52-28 earlier this season, shot 14-of-37, held a 34-22 edge in rebounds, and forced Pottsville into 23 turnovers, 13 of them in the fourth quarter.
Searfoss 5-3-4-13, Scott 5-2-2-12, Smelas 3-0-1-6, Hurley 1-2-2-5, Richards 0-0-0-0, Snisky 0-0-0-0, Berger 0-0-0-0, Rosahac 0-0-0-0, Craigle 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 14-7-11 36.
L. Plachko 2-0-0-6, Yoder 2-0-1-4, J. Plachko 1-0-0-2, Abdo 1-0-0-2, Dalton 1-0-0-2, Conrad 0-1-2-1. TOTALS 7-1-7-17.
Jim Thorpe 9 0 8 19 – 36
Pottsville 7 0 7 3 – 17
Three-pointers: JT - Hurley 1. Pottsville - L. Plachko 1.