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Boys beat Bombers

Story first appeared in The Northwestern Press on Jan. 14, 2016 and on thelehighvalleypress.com later that day.

With the amount of remaining games this regular season for Northwestern boys’ basketball dropping to the single digits, head coach Billy Hallman knows how crucial every game is.

The Tigers (7-7 overall, 4-6 Colonial League) got one step closer to the postseason with a 67-64 win against the Blue Bombers of Palmerton in a Colonial League game at Northwestern Lehigh High School on Monday night.

“This was an important one,” Hallman said. “Every one is important for us now, obviously, but we’ve battled with them the last couple of years. We look forward to this game. They are a real good team. Leigh [Keenan] coaches them real well and this was a real good win for us.”

Northwestern looked like a playoff team in the opening frame of the contest, battling with Palmerton, and leading 17-13 after the first quarter.

The second quarter was a different story for the Tigers as they struggled offensively, committing 10 turnovers and scoring just nine points in the frame, opening the door for Palmerton, who capitalized, leading 28-26 at halftime.

Despite the high volume of turnovers, Hallman isn’t worried.

“I think tonight was isolated,” he said. “We have been taking care of the ball pretty well this year. We want to play up-tempo, so we are going to have some careless turnovers. We stress that if we can, push the ball, make the smart passes. If we can’t, bring it out. I thought we did all right tonight.”

A driving force behind Palmerton’s surge in the second and third quarters was Spencer Hay. The senior led all scorers with 12 points at halftime and pushed the Blue Bombers even further in the third quarter, dropping seven points and three rebounds during that frame.

Despite the efforts of Hay, who led Palmerton with 26 points, Northwestern held a one-point advantage after three quarters, 48-47, thanks to a basket from Robert Seyfried with 38 seconds left in the third. That was the first lead for the Tigers since the 58-second mark of the second quarter.

Hay had the third quarter, but the final frame belonged to Northwestern’s Parker Jones. The senior poured in 13 points in the quarter and finished with 27 in the game, which led all scorers. The bulk of the senior captain’s scoring came from the free throw line as Jones knocked down seven foul shots on eight attempts in the final 63 seconds of the game

“I work very hard on my free throws,” Jones said. “The last few games haven’t been so great, but I’m pretty proud of myself for my free throws in this game.”

Alongside Jones was Seyfried, who finished with 21 points, as the two combined for 48 of Northwestern’s 67 points.

“This win was real important, especially since we lost to them last time,” Jones said. “We bounced back with the win against Saucon [Valley] and this one was a big confidence booster to help us roll through the season and hopefully into a district playoff game.”

Northwestern hits the road to battle Lehighton on Saturday and Southern Lehigh on Jan. 19 before the Tigers return home for back-to-back games, hosting Wilson on Jan. 21 and Northern Lehigh on Jan. 22 for senior sight. Both home games are slated for 7 p.m.

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