Tiger boys fall to Spartans
Head coach Billy Hallman knew it would be a test early on in the Colonial League hoops landscape. And for the first quarter, Northwestern seemed up for the challenge.
But when all was said and done, Southern Lehigh and its experience proved to be too much over the final three quarters.
Led by Southern Lehigh’s post duo of Jacob Cassel (13 points, 13 rebounds) and Jack Zamichieli (13 points), the Spartans improved to 3-0 in conference play and remained as one of four remaining unbeaten squads in the Colonial League. Northwestern, led by Brady Mengel’s 11 points, watched an early 11-6 lead evaporate to a 17-13 deficit after the first and grow to 40-27 at halftime.
“We battled in the first quarter,” Hallman said. “We were in foul trouble right from the get-go, but we battled and hung in until halftime. We struggled to make a shot.”
Northwestern dropped to 0-2 in the Colonial League and looks to get in the win column on Friday night against Northern Lehigh.
The Spartans used a diamond press to open the game, and while it did cause the Tigers into multiple first-quarter turnovers, the 3-point shot kept Northwestern alive.
Just past the midway point of the opening quarter, Parker Jones assisted on the first of Mengel’s three 3-pointers to break a tie and put Northwestern ahead 9-6. On the Spartans’ next possession, Jones got a steal on the defensive end and raced down the court for a layup and a five-point lead.
But that’s when the tides started to turn. Three turnovers on three straight possessions helped the Spartans retake the lead at 13-11 due to their full-court press.
“Normally they do a 2-2 press,” Hallman said. “It was a little new, but we didn’t get to our spots. We just didn’t execute it and take care over the ball.”
While the Tigers had trouble breaking Southern Lehigh’s pressure most of the night, the Spartans seem to thrive in transition, even after made baskets for Northwestern. That transition game—as well as an eight-point, six-rebound second quarter from Cassel—helped the Spartans take a commanding 13-point lead into halftime. Guard Kevin Patel hit two 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to help Southern Lehigh create separation on the scoreboard.
“We didn’t get back on defense all night,” Hallman said. “We know they wanted to push. They get the ball up the court super fast. We didn’t sprint back the whole night.”
Zamichiele scored six of his nine first-half points in that second quarter spurt for the Spartans as well. Along with those two, 6-5 center Jack Dougherty came off the bench to add another tower down low for the Spartans. Dougherty poured in six of his eight points in the third quarter when Southern Lehigh grew its lead to 51-32 not even four minutes into the second half.
“They work well together and they’re very active,” Hallman said. “They’re a tough matchup. They have another one coming off the bench, and they can rotate three solid big guys.”
Patel (11 points) and Lucas Hudson (10) rounded out the Spartans top scorers.
Dustin Snyder scored eight of his 10 points in the first half, and Robbie Seyfried added nine.