Boys’ season ends at Lower Moreland
On Friday, in the quarterfinal round of the District 11/1 playoffs against No. 2 seed Lower Moreland, No. 7 seed Northwestern Lehigh knew the to key to a win was handling the Lions’ chaotic full-court pressure defense. Unfortunately, for the Tigers (12-11) in their first district berth since 2008, the Lions pressure was too much to handle.
From the onset, Lower Moreland (19-7) used its jump-and-run style to set the tone, forcing 24 turnovers en route to a 60-43 victory.
Lower Moreland wasted no time forcing the Tigers to play its style of basketball. The Lions jumped out to a 23-8 lead after the first quarter, using defensive pressure to create offensive opportunities. Northwestern stayed competitive early, trailing by just two points with six minutes remaining in the frame, but a 17-2 Lions run put the momentum on their side.
“We like to create chaos and really get after it defensively and we play at a fast pace,” said Lions head coach Seth Baron. “We were able to play our style of basketball tonight. The key for was also to get an early lead because of our strong guard play. We can really control the tempo then. It’s hard to really pressure us or steal the ball from our guards.”
Northwestern made a run in the second quarter. The Tigers applied a little full-court pressure of their own, throwing a 1-2-2 trap at the Lions, which stalled the Lower Moreland offense. The Tigers outscored the Lions by six in the quarter to get within nine at the half.
The low-post duo of Devin Thomas and Devin Bollinger helped to keep Norhwestern in the game, combining for 14 points and double digit rebounds in the first half.
“I was real proud of our kids tonight, because they didn’t give up,” said Northwestern head coach Billy Hallman. “They really battled to get back in the game in the second quarter.
“We switched some things up on them and caused some turnovers and we attacked the basket. We knew coming in that if we took care of the ball we get good looks, but we just weren’t able to do that consistently.”
Turnovers once again plagued the Tigers in third quarter, coupled with deadly three-point shooting by the Lions to extend their lead to 15 points. The Lions hit four triples in the third with Joey Cerrutti knocking down two in that span.
In the fourth, it was much of the same for the Tigers as they just couldn’t figure out a way to handle the Lions’ pressure. Lower Moreland pushed its lead to as much as 19 before eventually coming through with the 17-point win.
The Tigers return almost their full roster for next season. Qualifying for the district playoffs after 10 seasons was a goal achieved and a step in the right direction in the program’s resurgence.
“Our goal was to get here,” said Hallman. “We worked hard and accomplished that goal. This stings a little bit, but we have nothing to hold our heads down about. I already can’t wait for the start of next season.”
Thomas led the way for Northwestern with a game-high 17 points, while Bollinger chipped in 10. Shane Cohen led the Lions with 16 points.
Rosamalia 0-0-0-0, Hebelka 0-1-2-1, Seyfried 1-0-0-2, Yadush 2-0-0-5, Mengel 1-0-0-2, Bollinger 5-0-1-10, McCann 0-0-0-0, Rebert 1-0-0-2, Henry 0-0-0-0, Snyder 1-0-0-2, Thomas 7-3-5-17, Holmes 1-0-0-2. TOTALS: 19-4-8-43.
Cerrutti 4-0-0-11, Cohen 7-2-2-16, Himmelstein 2-1-1-5, Shimon 2-0-0-5, Horn 5-1-1-13, Key 2-3-3-7, Zoubroulis 0-0-0-0, Finnegan 1-0-0-3. TOTALS: 23-7-8-60.
Northwestern 8 13 12 8 - 43
Lo. Moreland 23 9 18 10 - 60
Three-pointers: NW - Yadush 1; LM - Cerrutti 3, Horn 2, Shimon 1, Finnegan 1.