Story first published in the Times News on Feb. 22, 2016 and appeared on tnonline.com later that day.
WHITEHALL-Northwestern head coach Chris Deutsch knew his team was going to have its hands full with Allentown Central Catholic’s tough presence in the paint. What he didn’t expect was its sharpshooting.
The fourth-seeded Vikings went 17-for-37 from the floor as they downed the fifth-seeded Tigers, 51-27, in a District 11 AAA girls’ basketball quarterfinal game at Whitehall High School on Saturday afternoon, ending Northwestern’s season.
“I’ve never seen them shoot like that,” Deutsch said. “They hit a lot of threes. [Neila] Luma is tough inside and we were trying to defend her. When you do that, you are going to give up some shots and they hit them. That was the difference.”
Luma, who came in averaging 12 points per game, was the focus of the Tiger defense as she mustered only six points in the contest. However, Central’s Jess Davis who came in averaging 6.5 points per game, exploded for 19 points to lead all scorers.
Despite Central’s offensive production, Northwestern (16-9) was keeping pace in the first half. The Tigers trailed by two points after the first quarter and by eight at half.
“I thought we had a lot of good looks in the first half,” Deutsch said. “We just did not make shots. It has been a struggle at times this year. Our shooting percentage has been a little low, but I thought we moved the ball well and I really thought we played well in the first half.”
It all swung Central Catholic’s way with just a few ticks left on the clock in the first half. Central’s Diana Kocsis drained a three-pointer with time expiring to lift the Vikings lead to eight points before the break. That trey sparked confidence that carried into the second half as ACC went on a 13-0 scoring run to start the third quarter, jumping out to a 35-14 lead with 5:07 left in the frame.
Central (13-10) possessed a 42-20 lead after the third quarter as Northwestern scored six points and committed five turnovers in the period.
“They hit three three-pointers to start the half,” Deutsch said. “I don’t ever remember them hitting six or seven threes in a game. We picked our poison and we made them beat us from the outside and they did.”
It was seniors Erika Thomas and Mikaela Koenig who led the way for the Tigers, as they each scored six points in the contest.
With a 16-win season, a Colonial League playoff win and a district playoff appearance, Deutsch was pleased with the 2015-16 campaign.
“Overall, I think it was a very successful season,” he said. “To lose [Sabrina] Mertz, [Sarah] Segan, and [Lauren] Anderson, to have these girls come back and to start three sophomores, and have 16-wins, I don’t think it’s anything to be ashamed of. Obviously, we would have liked to move on this season, but I think we have a bright future. We have a lot of girls returning and it’s great because these girls have that experience now.”
BUZZER BEATERS …Central Catholic beat the buzzer twice in the first half, knocking down a basket at the end of the first quarter and a three-pointer at the end of the second frame, totaling five points, more than half of the lead it held at the break.
DAMAGING DROUGHTS…Northwestern was held scoreless for the first 4:21 of the first half and the first 3:08 of the second half, spans which Central Catholic took advantage of scoring four and 13 points, respectively.
SAT SUBSTITUTIONS …Central Catholic played without Neila Luma and Dana Roberts for the entire first half as the pair was taking the SATs and did not arrive at the game until halftime.
Stitzel 0-0-0-0, Lister 2-0-0-4, Chisdak 0-3-6-3, Sevrain 1-2-2-4, Pasquale 0-0-0-0, Koenig 3-0-0-6, Williamson 2-0-2-4, Dietrich 0-0-0-0, Thomas 1-3-4-6. TOTALS: 9-8-14-27.
Faust 0-0-0-0, Heffner 1-0-0-2, Arevalo 0-0-0-0, Wert 0-0-0-0, Davis 6-3-5-19, McGee 1-2-3-4, Kalman 0-0-0-0, Shoemaker 1-0-0-2, Eripret 1-2-2-5, Kocsis 2-0-0-5, Arner 0-0-0-0, Luma 3-0-0-6, Roberts 0-2-2-2, Buckenmyer 2-2-2-6. TOTALS: 17-11-14-51.
Northwestern 7 7 6 7 – 27
Central Catholic 9 13 20 9 – 51
Three-pointers: Northwestern: Thomas 1; Central Catholic: Davis 4, Eripret 1, Kocsis 1.