Girls open against Tamaqua
After being surprised by Wilson in the Colonial League quarterfinals, the Lady Tigers have had a longer layoff than planned before the start of districts.
Coach Chris Deutsch made the best of it by taking the time to give his players a bit of a break and then taking a fresh look at what they were doing. He also had some time to put in a few wrinkles that the team can use in districts.
“This is that point where if you lose, some of these girls will have played their last high school game and we want to prolong that as long as we possibly can, hopefully for a while,” said Deutsch. “That’s why we want to be as prepared as possible coming into this so we can know we did everything that we could do to win.”
Wilson was somewhat of a Cinderella in the Colonial League tournament, but eventually fell to favorite Southern Lehigh in the finals.
It was thought all along that the finals would be a rematch between the Spartans and Tigers, who met twice during the regular season with Southern Lehigh winning both meetings.
Northwestern (18-5) comes into the District 11 Class 4A tournament as the number-two seed, right behind defending state champion Bethlehem Catholic. Their opening game comes Saturday afternoon at Northern Lehigh High School against seventh-seeded Tamaqua (11-11). A win against the Blue Raiders would set up an interesting matchup in the semifinals with either Central Catholic or Wilson. The Lady Tigers have never defeated Central Catholic and they would obviously love another shot at the Warriors with a chance to end their season.
“You know you’re going to be playing a good team at this point in the season and Tamaqua is very good, so we know they’re going to give us a good game and we have to play well to win,” said Deutsch. “Our girls didn’t like having this long of a break. They put the time to good use, but they wanted to be out there playing for a Colonial League title.”
The Blue Raiders are led by Emma Kuczynski, who has averaged over 17 points per game this season, with Emily Titus averaging just over 10 points per game.
It’s likely that Jess Williamson will be called upon to guard Kuczynski in a battle that could go a long way in determining the outcome of the game. Kuczynski is one of the best offensive players in the Schuylkill League and Williamson is one of the best defensive players in the Colonial League.
While Northwestern might not have the offensive firepower to stand up to Tamaqua, it has a better defensive team than the Blue Raiders possess and that’s going to be the key for the Lady Tigers. Leighanna Lister averages 11.7 points per game for Northwestern and figures to be able to use her size inside to do damage offensively and on the defensive boards.
“We want to limit their second chances,” said Deutsch. “They already have a good offensive team and then if you give them multiple chances, they’re going to take advantage of them, so rebounding and doing the things that we need to do defensively is going to be important.”