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Tigers end 5-year drought against rival No. Lehigh

Article appeared in Thursday, Dec. 25’s edition of The Northwestern Press.

First-year head coach Billy Hallman has only been a part of the Northwestern boys’ basketball program for a few months.

Earlier this week he achieved something that hasn’t been done in five years.

The Tigers (4-4 overall, 2-3 CL) defeated Northern Lehigh for the first time since 2009, 63-40, in a battle of Colonial League rivals on Monday night at Northwestern Lehigh High School.

“That’s what we talked about before the game,” Hallman said. “It has been since 2009 since we beat Northern Lehigh, 10 games. It meant a lot to these seniors to get a win early this season and we are going to use it as a stepping stone moving forward.”

Early in the contest the fast-paced squads went back and forth in the first quarter with the Bulldogs emerging with a 20-18 lead after the first eight minutes of play.

Northern Lehigh went cold from the floor in the second quarter, shooting 0-10, notching only one point via a foul shot by Aaron Hofmann.

The drought opened the door for the Tigers. Senior Taylor Breininger converted a three-point play to retake the lead 21-20 with 6:38 left in the second quarter and Northwestern never let it go.

The Tigers went on a 10-0 run following that go-ahead bucket to take a 31-21 advantage into the locker room.

Northwestern used its hustle to earn the lead before the break and extend it in the second half, all of which is a part of the plan, according to Hallman.

“We want to get up and down the floor,” he said. “We hope that at some point in the game we wear the other opponent down. I think it definitely caught up to Northern Lehigh, especially in the second half.”

The Bulldogs, who were led by junior Tyshawn Golden’s 17 points, 11 of which came in the first quarter, only scored 19 points in the second half as the Tigers never saw their lead dip below double digits the rest of the game.

Northwestern was led by junior Brady Mengel and senior Josh Williamson, who contributed 14 and 10 points, respectively.

Mengel believes the win will create ripples in the Colonial League.

“This was huge for us,” he said. “It was a very key win for us. It is going to help our record a lot and to just beat Northern Lehigh is huge.”

Only eight games into his inaugural season at the helm of Northwestern boys’ basketball and rewriting the history books, Hallman is pleased with the start. The Northwestern Lehigh graduate was a long-time assistant/JV coach in the Tiger girls program before taking over the boys team.

“I’m happy,” he said. “We have gotten to know each other so well over the last month and a half. The guys have really bought in to what we have asked them to do. Our goal is to make it to districts and we only need six or seven more wins, depending on how you look at it. That’s what we talk about. We take them one at a time, but that is what we want.”

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