Girls clinch West Division
Northwestern Lehigh’s 49-14 win over Northern Lehigh late last week may have seemed like just another win for the Lady Tigers in an impressive season that they’ve put together. Actually, it was a much bigger win than it may have appeared on the surface since it locked up the West Division title for Northwestern and clinched a first-round bye in the Colonial League playoffs that begin early next month.
The win put Northwestern up by three games over Palmerton with three games left on the schedule and since the Tigers beat the Lady Bombers twice during the regular season, they would win the tiebreaker should the two teams finish the season with identical league records.
Northern Lehigh struggled from the outset and turned the ball over 13 times, allowing Northwestern Lehigh to jump out to an early lead and the Lady Tigers never looked back. In all, Northern Lehigh turned the ball over 28 times in the game as Northwestern moved to 15-4 overall and 12-2 in the Colonial League.
Junior Ali Lister led all scorers with 13 points and freshman Paige Sevrain finished with 12 for Northwestern. Sophomore Emma Niebell finished with 10 points for Northern Lehigh.
“I thought we played really well tonight and not only took advantage of the turnovers, but forced some of them by being aggressive,” said Northwestern head coach Chris Deutsch. “We had a tough game last night at Wilson [a 52-49 win] and we kind of needed a game like this tonight, so I think we came out aggressive and tried to put them away early and that was important.”
One of the keys for Northwestern lately has been the play of junior Tess Ledeboer. Her role as the first player off the bench is much the same that it was last season, but she has been more involved in the scoring, including a season-high 16 points in a win against Southern Lehigh early last week. Ledeboer finished with eight points and five rebounds in the game. She also served as a spark defensively for Northwestern.
“We’re playing really well right now,” said Ledeboer. “We all know what we need to do to win and we all worked hard over the summer in the Parkland League and in tournaments and we worked hard in practices and it’s showing now.”
“Tess does everything that we ask her,” said Deutsch. “I’m not sure that anybody on this team has worked harder for us than she has. She plays hard on defense and works hard around the basket and she’s really picked up on offense. She doesn’t get a lot of attention, but she does a lot of our dirty work in tough situations and does it all well.”
Northwestern went on a 12-0 run in the game and led 17-3 at the end of the first quarter. They put together another 12-0 run in the second quarter to lead 31-9 at the half. Throughout the second half, Northwestern continued to stretch their lead and led by as many as 36 when Gabrielle Giese hit a short-jumper with just under four-minutes to play in the game.
“We had a lot of contributions tonight, this was definitely a team win for us,” stressed Deutsch. “I thought that even our young players that we had in there at the end of the game played really well and that’s always good to see.”
The Tigers’ defense prevented Northern Lehigh from ever getting any offensive traction throughout the game. Niebel scored the only Northern Lehigh points in the first quarter when she hit a three-pointer. She also scored the only points for the Bulldogs in the second half by dropping in two foul shots in the third quarter, followed by another three-pointer in the fourth quarter.