Tigers top Bombers
Time will tell what it means at the end of the year.
But for one night, its importance was obvious.
An early-season Colonial League showdown with Palmerton last Thursday was a chance for Northwestern boys basketball coach Billy Hallman to find out a little bit more about his team.
The Tigers gave Hallman exactly what he was looking for with a 55-43 victory over the Bombers.
“This was a big game, (against) a rival, a division opponent, a really good team, early in the year, and we wanted to come out and make a statement,” Hallman said. “And our guys were ready to go, defensively, from the get-go.”
The offense was prepared, too.
Sam Yadush’s opening salvo set the tone for Northwestern. The senior buried a three off the opening tip, sparking the Tigers to an 11-0 run to open the game.
Yadush finished with 14 points, while Luke Hallman added 12 on four three-pointers, including two during the team’s quick start.
“It’s huge, and it showed with Luke,” coach Hallman said of the team’s confidence after building an early advantage. “He makes two threes, and his defense is better, everybody else is into it. Sam (Yadush) gets to the rim, gets a couple in, and it feeds throughout our team. Our team plays so well together, and they feed off each other.”
Northwestern seized momentum in the second quarter, holding Palmerton without a field goal as the Tigers took a 31-15 lead into halftime.
“The first quarter, they were up big, and we got it down to a one-possession game,” said Bombers’ head coach Ken Termini, whose team trailed 16-13 with 44 seconds to play in the opening period.
“It’s really simple tonight: They shot better than we did. (Luke) Hallman had a great night. Their bench came out and played good defense. It took us a while to get going.”
Luke Hallman’s trey to open the third quarter gave Northwestern a 34-15 lead, and the junior closed the period with his final bucket to make it 42-27 headed to the fourth.
“It was big,” Luke Hallman said of the start. “It was a good confidence booster. And then we had a bunch of guys coming off the bench, making some shots and playing good defense.”
Palmerton put together an 8-2 run early in the final quarter, capped off by a three from Kody Kratzer to cut the deficit to 44-35 with 5:50 to play.
A basket from Nate Dougherty brought the Bombers within single digits yet again at 49-41 with 3:05 to play.
But Palmerton wouldn’t get any closer.
“It says a lot about our team because last year, it might have been one we let slip away,” said Billy Hallman. “But they handled their run, which we knew was coming. And they did what they needed to do (to close it out).
“It was just a total team effort. Everybody played their role. They all accept it. We got a lot of guys that can play.”
Dougherty finished with 15 points, while Kratzer and Justin Hosier added seven points apiece for Palmerton, which outscored the Tigers 28-24 in the second half.
“We knew they were definitely going to go on a run,” said Yadush. “Hosier and Dougherty are great basketball players, and we knew we had to shut them down. We knew Dougherty was going to get to the line and get his. But in the end, I think Sam Seyfried, Derek Hebelka, Deven Bollinger and Luke (Hallman) did a great job on them playing defense. We just pulled it out.
“And I want to give a shoutout to Michael Rebert, for handling the ball, and handling the pressure tonight.”
Devin Thomas added nine points for the Tigers.
Though disappointed with the outcome, Termini was able to put the setback into perspective.
“You can’t dig a hole like that against Northwestern, especially when you have a night where you shoot the way we shoot,” said Termini. “That’s going to be more of an abnormality for us than the norm. We didn’t expect to go 22-0. The better team won tonight, but there’s a lot of games left.”