Boys still battling for postseason berth
Northwestern Lehigh and Southern Lehigh are two teams fighting for spots in the District 11 postseason tournament.
So when they squared off against each other Tuesday night there was a lot on the line. Unfortunately for Northwestern, the Spartans pulled off a 52-47 win over the Tigers that put Southern Lehigh (9-8 overall, 9-3 Colonial League) into districts. Northwestern (8-9, 6-6) is going to have to keep fighting if it wants to join the Spartans in the District 11 race.
Not only are the Tigers fighting for a spot in districts, but they’re also fighting for the final spot in the Colonial League playoffs with rival Northern Lehigh (11-6, 7-5).
With Northwestern one game behind the Bulldogs in the Colonial League race, their meeting Friday night at Northern Lehigh is a big one as far as gaining a spot in the league tournament. The Bulldogs have already qualified for districts. Palmerton (9-8, 5-6) is also in the running for the final Colonial League playoff spot.
Northwestern isn’t playing its best basketball of the season, having lost four of its last five games. A win over Lehighton on Saturday snapped a three-game slide and the team was hoping for a win over Southern Lehigh to officially get them back on track.
“We’re in a spot now where every game is important,” said Tiger head coach Billy Hallman leading up to the game against Southern Lehigh. “We’ve put ourselves in this spot and we can pull ourselves out, but we have to play better and more consistent basketball than what we’ve played.”
In addition to playing Northern Lehigh Friday, Northwestern is at Wilson (11-4, 9-3) Thursday and finishes the season with three home games against Pen Argyl (3-13, 2-11), Salisbury (6-10, 4-8) and Catasauqua (1-13, 1-10).
The Tigers need three wins to guarantee a .500 record overall. A win over Northern Lehigh, who they beat 56-43 just before Christmas, would go a long way toward helping them earn a spot in the Colonial League playoffs. It’s worth noting that Northern Lehigh and Palmerton meet in the regular season finale in Slatington.
Against Lehighton, Sam Yadush scored 24 points, including hitting 10-of-11 shots from the free throw line. Sean McCann hit four three-pointers to finish with 14 points in the win over the Indians. Devin Thomas also finished in double-digits with 10 points in the game.
Yadush leads all Northwestern scorers, averaging 16.6 points per game this season. Thomas is averaging 12 per game and Deven Bollinger also averages in double-digits with 10.2 points per game. The Tigers need every point they can get as they trail their opponents by a slim 987-975 scoring advantage this season.
“We’ve had a pretty balanced offense this season with different guys stepping up where we need them to and we thought that would be the case,” said Hallman. “Attitude-wise and effort-wise, I think we’re good. We just have to play better. You can’t look back at the end of the year and get any of these games back. For some of these guys, this is their high school career here the rest of the way and it would be nice to extend that past the regular season.”