Article By: CHUCK HIXSON Special to the Press
It’s been a tough start to the season for the Northwestern Lehigh boys basketball team. The early schedule had the Tigers off for the opening weekend but then backed up a bunch of games, leaving them with little time to practice or rest up. Finally, they hit a point in the schedule where they had three days off last week and used them to work on some things in practice.
The result was one of their better performances of the season in a 56-43 win over Northern Lehigh in a key Colonial League matchup.
San Yadush played an in-and-out game with the Bulldogs, driving the lane early for points only to pull up from the outside and nail three-pointers when Northern Lehigh took the lane away from the senior. Yadush finished the night with 18 points to lead all scorers, while Preston Kemery led Northern Lehigh with 11 points in the game.
“We needed this one,” said Northwestern head coach Billy Hallman. “We finally had three days off to practice and work on a few things and I think it showed tonight. It’s been rough to just have a day off and all you can do is get ready for the next game. Hopefully, we’ll look back at tonight and see that this was where things started to go our way.”
The first quarter went back-and-forth and looked like it might end in a 12-12 tie. As time ran down, Luke Hallman launched a three-pointer from the left corner and got nothing but net to give his team a three-point lead. In the second quarter, Yadush drove the lane to pick up a foul while the ball fell nicely through the net. After burying the foul shot, Northwestern led 18-14 and on the next trip down the floor, Hallman hit another three-pointer to make it 21-14 half-way through the quarter.
The Bulldogs had cut it to 23-20 and closed up the middle that Yadush was exploiting, which forced him outside where he drained a three-pointer to put Northwestern up 26-20 at halftime.
“We were a lot more patient tonight than we’ve been,” said Hallman. “I think that’s part of having some time to relax, because we stressed that in practice and we really put it to work tonight.”
Northwestern put the game away in the second half as Yadush hit two three-pointers in the third quarter after Northern Lehigh keyed on him to keep him away from the lane. While the Bulldogs were watching Yadush, Devin Thomas found himself pulling down offensive rebounds and putting them back up for points. Thomas would continue the practice in the fourth quarter and wound up with 10 of his 14 points coming in the second half.
“He has the ability to do that,” said Hallman of Thomas’ rebounding ability. “He can do a lot of damage in those spots and he can be tough to keep out of there, too.”
Hallman believes that a little time off over the holidays will be a bonus for his team. He’s glad that they’ve remained healthy and haven’t had to disrupt the lineup or player rotation because of injuries. Last season, injuries made things tough on the Tigers, especially late in the season when Luke Hallman went down with a knee injury.
While the slow start has been tough for Northwestern, Billy Hallman sees better things ahead for Northwestern once the new 2019 calendars are on the wall.
“This has been one of those stretches that you just try to get through and we’ve done that pretty well,” said Billy Hallman. “We’re healthy and the schedule will even out over the holidays and then we’ll be in position to battle after the New Year and I think we’ll play much better.”
The Tigers fell to 3-4 overall with a 72-39 loss at Pottsville Saturday. They are 3-2 in Colonial League play. They host a Hamburg in a nonleague game on Thursday, Dec. 27 at 6:45. They host Bangor to open the New Year on Wednesday, Jan. 2.