By Tyler Trumbauer, Staff Writer
Over and over it gets stressed that Northern Lehigh needs to become more of a defensive threat in order to achieve consistent success.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, they still hadn’t have become more defensively stable in time for their District 11 AAA pig-tail round game against the #10 seeded Tamaqua Blue Raiders.
On Tuesday night in front of an emotional crowd at Northern Lehigh High school the seventh seeded Bulldogs fell to the tenth seeded Tamaqua Blue Raiders by a final score of 47-44.
“We just couldn’t make shots,” said senior Josh Eden.
Eden contributed nine points to the Bulldogs’ offensive attack, but that total is lower than the normal for the Colonial League First-Team member.
Out of the gate it was a back and forth contests until Caleb Johnson of NL picked up his second foul with 4:20 remaining in the first half. Those two early fouls forced head coach Jeff Miller to relegate the Harvard-bound Johnson to the bench for the remainder of the first half.
Finding themselves down by only a few points, the Bulldogs went on a traumatic offensive drought. They shot just 2-15 from the field in the second quarter which totaled to a .182 shooting percentage for them in the first half.
Tamaqua went on a 13-2 run to end the first half where the dogs went scoreless in the last 2:53 of the first 16 minutes of play. Heading in to the locker room, the Bulldogs’ leading scorer was senior big man Luke Pierce with six points.
The rejuvenated Bulldogs came out on to the floor to begin the second half with a sense of “swagger”, if you will. They used their size to their advantage and took control of the game from Tamaqua as they were dictating the pace of the game the entire first half.
With multiple lead changes in the third, the entire gym was on the edge of their seats anxious to see what these shining student-athletes would do next. The next act for the Bulldogs would be to go on a small 6-0 run to give them a two-point lead with 1:48 left in the third period of play.
The Blue Raiders battled back to regain a slim lead in the third before Pierce hit a three at the buzzer to give his team a one-point lead by a score of 33-32.
The beginning of the fourth quarter was much as a re-run of the first half with Tamaqua controlling the game and the Bulldogs seem to be playing catch up. After the game Pierce discussed the team’s trouble to capitalize on opportunities, “It’s frustrating. We go in to the fourth quarter with a one-point lead and kind of the momentum and we came out flat. That has been our ‘Achilles’ Heel’ all season long.”
At that point in time, the Dogs found themselves down 44-40.
Two quick scores by junior Matt Egan and Johnson brought the Bulldogs within two points with 20.7 seconds remaining in the ball game.
Johnson fouled out with 3.7 seconds remaining over a controversial personal foul call on the senior that most individuals in the gymnasium thought should have been a traveling violation on the Tamaqua Blue Raider. However, officials conferred and were in agreement that Johnson had earned his fifth foul and left the game.
The ensuing foul shots sealed the game for Tamaqua. A desperation three from Pierce ended just like NL’s season, just a little short.
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