Thomas, Tigers beat Salisbury
After a tough loss to Bangor, the Northwestern Lehigh boys basketball team took out some frustrations on Salisbury in a 69-50 win over the Falcons.
Devin Thomas picked up a game-high 20 points in the win over Salisbury (5-6 overall, 3-4 Colonial) that brought Northwestern back to a 5-5 overall record and a 4-3 Colonial League mark.
The Tigers led by eight after the first quarter with Salisbury’s Tommy Sylvester keeping the Falcons in the game leading all scorers in the early going with eight points. The Tigers’ defense contained Sylvester in the second quarter and held him scoreless, but Kenyo Herrera picked up the slack and scored seven points, but Northwestern worked its way out to a 42-25 lead at halftime.
Sylvester and Herrera each scored just two points in the second half with the Tigers holding a 62-31 lead after three quarters, their largest lead of the game.
“Our defense played well today and we were able to keep their guys from putting up big numbers in the game,” said Tiger head coach Billy Hallman.
With the Salisbury offense contained, Northwestern put on a clinic in ball handling and passing. That, combined with Thomas working down low to keep the Northwestern offense going, spelled trouble for the Falcons.
“That just comes from our guys being so familiar with each other,” said Hallman. “They know where each other is going to be and have a knack of getting the ball to them. Minimizing turnovers and moving the ball around has been important for us, especially when we get into close games, so that we’re not giving away points.”
A key for the team this season has been the improved play of Thomas around the basket. The 6-foot-2 senior has also become proficient at pulling down offensive rebounds and putting them right back up for extra offensive opportunities.
“I’ve worked a lot on putting myself in the right position,” said Thomas, who described his play as aggressive and scrappy. “It doesn’t hurt too that I’ve gotten taller and added some muscle for those situations.”
Against Bangor (9-2, 7-1), it looked like the Tigers could be the team to end the Slaters long Colonial League win streak, which stood at 54 games.
Northwestern, though, couldn’t hang onto a 36-28 halftime lead and after increasing that lead in the third quarter, wound up blowing the lead when it was outscored 25-12 in the fourth quarter, leading to a 68-61 loss. Somewhat ironically, Bangor would lose its streak the next night when Moravian Academy used a buzzer beater to beat the Slaters 66-65.
“We played well against them,” said Hallman of the loss to Bangor. “They’re a good team and they really stepped up the game late and kind of took things over. It was more of a case of them beating us than us giving away a game, because I thought we played well.”
The Tigers were led by Sam Yadush, who scored 22 points against the Slaters, with Deven Bollinger right behind him with 19.
While beating Bangor could have been a big point in the season for Northwestern, suffering a disappointing loss like they did could have also been a momentum killer.
The Tigers were determined not to have that happen and came out strong from the start against Salisbury.
“We weren’t going to let that affect our season,” said Thomas. “It was a tough loss, but we knew we were going to come right back and win today and get right back to playing hard. We know we’re a good team and I think we can play even better than we have at times this season, it’s just a matter of us continuing to work hard. We don’t let things get to us.”