Story first appeared in The Salisbury Press on Feb. 3, 2016 and on thelehighvalleypress.com.
Heading into last week, Salisbury was right in the thick of the Colonial League girls’ basketball playoff race. However, the Lady Falcons had a rough road ahead, facing fellow top teams in Palisades and Notre Dame Green Pond last week and Northwestern on Monday night.
Joe Mladosich’s group was 0-2 in the first two tests against that top tier and suffered its third setback as Salisbury fell 51-46 to the Tigers on Monday Night in a Colonial League girls’ basketball game at Northwestern Lehigh High School in New Tripoli.
“We had a good league record, but you have to compete with the better teams,” head coach Joe Mladosich said. “Today we faced a better team, but we will keep working hard.”
Salisbury (12-9 overall, 12-4 Colonial League) fought back throughout the contest, but committed 20 turnovers in the game, something that has been a common occurrence for the Lady Falcons.
“Unfortunately we play that way a lot,” he said. “We are very sloppy, a lot of turnovers. Today we had a lot of unforced turnovers, too. We hung in there and tied it up. We made a good effort. I thought we could have won it in overtime, but they were the better team today.”
Northwestern (14-7, 12-4) looked like the better team at the onset of the game, jumping out to a 6-0 lead. But Salisbury clawed back, trailing just 10-8 after the first quarter.
The Lady Falcons captured their first lead early in the second frame as the ladies opened up the quarter on a 9-2 run over the first 3:30 of their period. That momentum continued for the remainder of the half as Salisbury took a 21-16 lead into halftime.
“I think we played defense a little better,” Mladosich said of his team’s second quarter surge. “We had a few easy breakaways and we played with a little more intensity. We need to play with intensity more often. I just think we take things for granted at times.”
Salisbury didn’t grant Northwestern the victory so easily, however. Northwestern scored 19 points in the third quarter to re-take the lead, 35-29, heading into the final period.
Even further, the Lady Tigers held a 45-40 advantage with just 79 seconds left in regulation, but that didn’t phase senior Lindsay Bauer.
The multi-sport star scored a game-high 27 points, 17 of which came in the second half, as she piloted the Lady Falcons to a comeback. Bauer scored Salisbury’s last nine points in regulation, including four clutch foul shots in consecutive possessions off of Northwestern turnovers, the final two tying the game with just 4.8 seconds remaining.
“She does a tremendous job,” Mladosich said about Bauer. “She scores in so many ways and helps our team in many ways. She is a great kid. In the four years I have coached her, she has never once taken a day off of practice. She works 100 percent every day at practice, which is unusual. She is a wonderful kid and will be tough to replace.”
The road doesn’t get easier for the Lady Falcons as they wrap up their regular season slate by hosting the league’s top team, Southern Lehigh, on Wednesday night at 7:15 p.m. The Lady Spartans are on a 20-game win streak and have yet to suffer a setback in league play.
Following the conclusion of the regular season, Salisbury is bound for postseason play. First up is the opening round of the Colonial League playoffs. With Monday night’s loss, the Lady Falcons will be on the road and will most likely face the Lady Tigers of Northwestern again on Saturday.
“We know what we need to do to improve and we will work on it at practice,” Mladosich said about his team heading towards the playoffs. “Basically, you just have to make some shots. We will see how it goes, but we will be ready.”