Boys get back to busy schedule
Many times, the second half of a basketball season finds teams wishing for an extra day off here or there. Winter weather sometimes backs games up to where teams are being stretched and coaches would like a day or two to work on some things, but they just don’t have the time.
That hasn’t been the case over the past couple of weeks as holidays slowed the Colonial League schedule and teams were just aching to play a serious game against someone other than players on their team.
Sometimes, that down time can result in a team coming out and struggling and the Northwestern boys basketball team was in danger of having that happen to them this past weekend.
“We played on the 27th (of December) and then we didn’t play again until last night,” said coach Billy Hallman of the eight days that his team had off before returning to the court on Friday, Jan. 5. “It’s nice to practice, but we needed some games. So I’m looking forward to Monday and getting them in school and then having them after school and getting back into our routine.”
In the Tigers’ first game back they ran into a Palmerton (5-6 overall; 3-4 Colonial League) team that has been hard to predict this season.
This time around, the Blue Bombers looked good and knocked off Northwestern 58-47 behind Nate Dougherty’s 24 points. Then, after their first game in eight days, the Tigers (8-3 overall; 6-2 Colonial League) returned to the court 18 hours after playing Palmerton to face a Salisbury team that had just one win on the season.
Things almost went very badly for Northwestern.
The Falcons came out strong and held a four-point halftime lead only to see Devin Thomas pick up 11 of his 20 points in the third quarter and cut Salisbury’s lead to 32-31 after three quarters.
The Northwestern defense stiffened and Salisbury’s shooting suddenly went cold as the Tigers and Falcons saw the lead change seven times in the second half and 10 times overall in the game, with Northwestern adding a 48-44 win to their record.
“We knew they would be tough,” said Hallman. “[Jason Weaver] is such a good coach and [Jack] Reichenbach can get as many as he wants on a given night, so we knew they would give us a good shot and challenge our guys.
“This was a big one for us because we had a bad one last night. Palmerton played us pretty well, so this was an important win to get us going in the second half of the season, so this will be big for us.”
As he has often done this season, Thomas found his way to the net when their opponent was able to shut down other scorers on the Tigers offense. Salisbury held Sam Yadush to nine points and kept Sam Seyfried to just two points in the game. Luke Hallman was held scoreless in the first half, but he found some openings over the final 16 minutes and finished with 11 points, helped by hitting five-of-six foul shots.
Northwestern finds themselves tied with Catasauqua at the top of the West Division standings, with Moravian Academy just one win behind the two teams. Overall, Northwestern is tied for third in the league standings, with Bangor (6-0) and Notre Dame (6-1) ahead of the Tigers. The tightly packed standings have teams needing every win.
Northwestern followed up their win over the Falcons with a 67-59 win over Saucon Valley (1-6, 2-9) Monday night. Ironically, the script was reversed against the Panthers as they held Thomas to eight points, but were unable to handle Yadush, who scored 21, with Deven Bollinger getting 13 and Luke Hallman adding 12.
Northwestern meets up with Moravian Academy Thursday before home games against Southern Lehigh (3-4, 3-8) and Notre Dame.