Indians surprise Palmerton behind Yturrino’s big night
Throw out the expectations and throw out the suspected outcome.
A rivalry game is always unpredictable, and on the opening night of high school basketball that was exactly the case between Palmerton and Lehighton.
The Blue Bombers came into their matchup with the Indians with high expectations, returning the bulk of their roster from last season’s District 11 3A championship team, but consistent momentum-swinging runs and clutch foul shooting down the stretch helped the Tribe pull out a 61-58 victory over Palmerton.
From the tip, the game was back-and-forth. Lehighton (1-0) showed early on that it was going to battle Palmerton tough, leading by one after the first quarter and by two at the half. Throughout the game, the Indians were able to knock down open three-point opportunities. The Tribe hit four triples in the opening frame, two of them coming from Ben Schatz.
“Hitting shots is big and can really open things up for you,” said Lehighton head coach Trevor Miller. “When you’re hitting shots good things always happen. Last season, that’s what hurt us. We would execute a play or a possession perfectly, but we just couldn’t knock down shots. Tonight we were able to do that and it made a difference for sure.”
Runs were also a difference maker in this one. In the second, Lehighton came through with its first big run of the night. The Bombers, leading by three midway through the frame, looked to be turning the corner offensively, with Justin Hosier getting it going early. Hosier scored 12 of Palmerton’s first 19 points, but a quick 6-0 run by the Tribe ignited a 13-9 run to end the quarter to give them a 30-28 lead at intermission.
The Indians’ Richard Yturrino was the catalyst for the run, scoring seven points and nine total in the second quarter. Yturrino was the “X-Factor” for Lehighton, finishing with a game-high 19 points and 10 rebounds off the bench.
“Richie, he’s an instant shot of energy for our team when he gets in the ball game,” said Miller. “We know when we put him in, our energy level is going to go up. Tonight, he was great. He was a true offensive weapon for us; he rebounded for us and he played great defense as well.”
It looked as if the Indians were going to head into the half with a five-point lead, but a desperation three by Kody Kratzer at the buzzer brought the Bombers back within two. In the third, the Bombers would feed off Kratzer’s big shot and steal back some momentum. Palmerton finished the third strong by hitting yet another desperation triple, this time by Hosier from just inside half-court. It would give the Bombers some serious momentum heading into the final quarter.
But once again, Lehighton responded with a big run. With the Bombers leading by three midway through the fourth, a 7-0 run gave the Indians a four-point lead. Palmerton battled back to knot the game at the 3:30 mark, but back-to-back buckets by Yturrino gave Lehighton the lead back.
A key difference down the stretch was foul shooting as Lehighton went 5-for-6 in the last minute of play, while the Bombers went 5-for-9 in the fourth quarter.
“Both teams came out and played incredibly hard and it was a game filled with a lot of energy and excitement,” said Palmerton mentor Ken Termini. “We just didn’t shoot well enough from the free-throw line and they shot well overall. You have to give them credit. Then there were three or four critical plays where they were able to beat us to 50/50 balls. But this is something we can learn from. This is a resilient group of guys and they’re going to come back ready to work.”
LEADERS ... Schatz helped out Yturrano, scoring 16 points and Zach Hunsicker chipped in with 11. Carter Strauss was also big for the Tribe, hitting three triples. For Palmerton, Hosier led the way with 25 and Kratzer finished with 19.
Connell 0-0-0-0, Kratzer 7-3-11-19, King 0-0-0-0, Mooney 0-0-0-0, Christman 1-2-2-4, Kresge 0-0-0-0, Stuck 1-0-0-3, Hosier 9-2-2-25, Buck 3-1-2-7. TOTALS: 21-8-17-58.
Strauss 3-0-0-9, Hunsicker 2-6-9-11, Lorenz 0-0-0-0, Smith 0-0-0-0, Beatty 1-0-0-3, Haydt 1-1-3-3, Yturrino 8-3-3-19, Schatz 6-1-2-16. TOTALS: 21-11-17-61.
Palmerton 13 15 14 16 - 58
Lehighton 14 16 11 20 - 61
Three-pointers: Palmerton - Hosier 5, Kratzer 2, Stuck 1; Lehighton - Strauss 3, Schatz 3, Hunsicker 1, Beatty 1.