Panthers top Blue Raiders
Panther Valley’s Bradley Buzzard attempts to put up a shot over Lucas Gregoire of Tamaqua. For a video, go to www.tnonline.com. BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS
All teams want to be peaking heading into the postseason.
Panther Valley is one team that appears to be doing just that.
The Panthers ended the regular season in impressive fashion Friday night, beating Schuylkill League rival Tamaqua, 75-70.
The victory not only avenged an earlier loss to the Blue Raiders, but it sends Panther Valley into its two-week break prior to the start of the District 11 playoffs feeling good about its game.
“The last two nights were two of our better performances this year,” Panther Valley coach Pat Crampsie said after seeing his team follow up a 35-point victory over Oley Valley on Thursday night with last night’s win over Tamaqua. “We talked about going into postseason play with momentum, and I think our kids responded to that.
“They were really focused tonight and built off their performance from Thursday. It’s a nice way to head into districts.”
The Panthers (15-7, 7-7) did it by relying on the strengths they displayed throughout the campaign — explosive offense, deadly three-point shooting, and harassing, trapping defense.
“We decided coming into the season that we needed to build around our athleticism and our shooting ability,” Crampsie said. “We felt that was the strength of this team.
“We try to play at a frenetic pace. Occasionally that leads to some inconsistencies and turnovers, but overall I think that’s the perfect style for us. As you saw tonight, we have a lot of kids that can shoot the three, and defensively, we make other teams play at a pace that’s a little uncomfortable for them.”
Erick Marchorro was the Panthers’ top sniper last night, scoring 20 points and drilling four three-pointers. He got plenty of support as Rene Figueroa (16 points), Brandon Stilitino (14) and Blake White (12) also hit doubles digits, and five different Panthers combined for 11 three-pointers.
Panther Valley grabbed a 23-16 first quarter lead and stretched the advantage to as many as 15 points (39-24) during the second quarter before settling for a 43-36 halftime lead.
“Credit Panther Valley. They played really well.” said Tamaqua coach Jim Barron. “I thought we were playing with tired legs after a tough game Thursday against Blue Mountain, and it showed, especially on the defensive end.
“But take nothing away from Panther Valley. They executed well. They shot the ball well. They definitely outplayed us.”
During one stretch from late in the first quarter through the midway point of the second, the Panthers went 12-for-14 from the field, including a blistering 8-for-8 from three-point range.
“We were moving the ball really well,” Marchorro said. “We had a lot of extra passes that led to wide open shots, and we were knocking them down.”
Tamaqua (15-7, 9-5) made several second half runs, getting to within two points on three different occasions. But each time Panther Valley had an answer. Figueroa had eight points in the final quarter, as he combined with Marchorro to make seven free throws down the stretch that sealed the win.
“I’m extremely happy for these kids, especially our seniors,” Cramspie said. “We’ve come a long way from where we were when these kids were freshmen and sophomores. But we aren’t finished yet. We want to ride the momentum we’ve built the last two games and play our best basketball of the season in the upcoming weeks.”
RAIDER LEADERS ... Brayden Knoblauch topped Tamaqua with 18 points. Lucas Gregoire added 11 and Aaron Gutierrez came off the bench to score 10 points and spark the Raiders in the second half.
UNSUNG HERO ... Trey Turner quietly makes a difference for the Panthers. Not only did he score eight points, grab six rebounds, and block three shots, but his passing and movement on offense were a key in PV’s productivity.
Bonetsky 3-0-0-6, Stianche 3-0-0-6, Griffin 2-0-0-5, Knoblauch 7-4-4-18, Zehner 3-0-1-6, Gutierrez 4-1-5-10, N. Gregoire 1-0-0-2, L. Gregoire 5-1-3-11, Stauffenberg 2-0-0-6. TOTALS: 30-6-13-70
Marchorro 6-4-5-20, Stilitino 4-3-3-14, Buzzard 1-0-0-2, Turner 3-0-0-8, Figueroa 5-5-8-16, Miller 0-0-0-0, White 6-0-0-12, Brettle 0-0-0-0. TOTALS: 26-12-16-75
Tamaqua 16 20 20 14 - 70
Panther Valley 23 20 15 17 - 75
Three-pointers: Tamaqua - Stauffenberg 2, Griffin 1, Gutierrez 1. Panther Valley - Marchorro 4, Stilitino 3, Turner 2, Krapf 1, Figueroa 1.