Palmerton clinches league playoff spot
Palmerton’s Kody Kratzer goes up in traffic to pull down a rebound against Salisbury. NANCY SCHOLZ/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
SALISBURY TOWNSHIP — The Palmerton boys basketball team has been in its fair share of close games this season.
The Blue Bombers were 5-2 in the prior seven games decided by three points or less.
Head coach Ken Termini and the Blue Bombers once again found a way to come out in front in a tight battle on Monday night. In a game that featured two ties and four lead changes in the fourth quarter alone, two free throws from Tyler Stuck in the final 10 seconds propelled the Bombers to a 49-48 win over Salisbury.
The win guaranteed Palmerton (14-5 overall; 11-4 in Colonial League) one of the six playoff berths in the Colonial League tournament that begins on Feb. 8. The Blue Bombers still have a chance to earn a home game in the first round.
“We’re 14-5 and we’ve played seven or eight games with at least one of our starters not being there or being injured or hurt, giving very minimal minutes,” Termini said. “Some people might look at our scores and say we are just squeaking by, but I prefer to think of it as these boys learning how to win.”
For a senior group that was part of a program that went 2-20 four years ago, the Blue Bombers have come full circle. And the final stretch was an indication of that.
Despite leading by double digits in the third quarter, Palmerton saw its lead disappear on a barrage of three-pointers from Salisbury. The Falcons even took the lead early in the fourth quarter at 41-39.
But the Blue Bombers didn’t waver. Justin Hosier (22 points) recorded a rebound and put back to tie the game moments later, then gave Palmerton a 44-41 lead midway through the frame with a three-pointer.
Starting point guard Ryan King missed the game due to injury, and Termini believes that had a big part in Salisbury’s comeback in the third when it scored 21 points.
“I think it really showed in the third quarter, and a little in the fourth when we sort of got rushed and out of sync,” Termini said. “We didn’t have that guy out there to really settle us down. That’s where we really missed (King).”
Kody Kratzer, who struggled shooting from the field, came up with a clutch rebound and put back that increased the Bombers’ lead to 46-41. Salisbury, however, would go on a 7-1 spurt, and a layup from Quintin Stephens put the Falcons back in front 48-47 with :13 to play.
Salisbury accidentally fouled Stuck on the ensuing inbound pass, and he sunk both free throws. A last-second shot from Salisbury’s Patrick Foley hit off the rim.
“With Kody, he’s had so many great nights that sooner or later, the basketball gods even things out,” Termini said. “I also think him having to take over a little bit more of the point tonight might have thrown his game off a bit.”
“I think we did a pretty solid job on Kratzer; we ran at him and forced a lot of tough shots,” Salisbury head coach Jason Weaver said. “But we got beat on the boards, we forced on offense, and we shot 3-for-11 from the line.”
INTO THE RECORD BOOKS ... Senior Justin Hosier became Palmerton’s all-time leader in three-pointers. His four against Salisbury brought his career total to 128, and he has plenty of time left to add to that total. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my teammates,” Hosier said. “It feels great to have that as another accomplishment for my career. I knew about the record, but I didn’t know exactly how close I was.”
IT’S BEEN A LONG TIME ... Termini wasn’t sure the last time Palmerton qualified for the Colonial League playoffs, but it’s been close to two decades.
Kratzer 3-4-6-10, Christman 1-2-2-4, Stuck 0-4-4-4, Hosier 8-2-3-22, Buck 3-0-0-6, Connell 0-1-2-1, Mooney 1-0-0-2, Frank 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 16-13-17-48.
Foley 1-0-2-3, Weber 6-0-0-14, Stephens 4-1-4-9, Warmkessel 3-1-3-7, Panarellio 4-0-0-8, Herrera 1-1-2-4, Parton 1-0-0-3. TOTALS: 20-3-11-48.
Palmerton 14 11 12 12 - 49
Salisbury 6 9 21 12 - 48
Three-pointers: Palmerton - Hosier 4; Salisbury - Weber 2, Foley 1, Herrera 1, Parton 1.