Salisbury Press

Saturday, January 19, 2019
PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZSalisbury’s Melena Koutch drives to the basket against Northern Lehigh. PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZSalisbury’s Melena Koutch drives to the basket against Northern Lehigh.

Girls fall to Bulldogs

Monday, December 24, 2018 by TODD KRESs tkress@tnonline.com in Sports

Salisbury’s plan heading into its weekend game against Northern Lehigh was clear: limit Jada Saeger and the Falcons’ chances figured to greatly increase.

Unfortunately, that goal was easier said than done.

Saeger, after scoring just two points in the opening quarter, helped Northern Lehigh separate itself the rest of the way on Saturday afternoon. Saeger finished with a game-high 23 points and eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for her career during a 52-33 win over the Falcons at Northern Lehigh High School.

“Obviously our whole game plan was to double-team Jada Saeger, limit her touches and scoring opportunities, and make somebody else beat us,” Reichenbach said. “We were doing this by playing a inverted triangle and two, which meant the girls in the triangle were playing three against four. When they played aggressively and pressured the ball we were successful; when they weren’t aggressive we gave up easy baskets.”

Reichenbach asked the Falcons to pressure the ball, realizing the effect Salisbury’s defense could have in transition offense. Melena Koutch, Crystal Aungst and Erica Holben were key in applying that pressure at the top of the key.

And the pressure worked early. The Falcons (1-3 overall; 1-2 in Colonial League) scored five straight points—three from Koutch—that helped erase an early 6-0 deficit. But from that moment on, Northern Lehigh had its way with the visiting Falcons.

“Our other biggest problem offensively is that we are still impatient and not aggressive enough,” Reichenbach said. “We are still throwing up too many outside shots when we have opportunities to get to the basket, and we are too eager to throw one or two passes instead of working the offense for good scoring opportunities.”

Saeger scored 12 of her 23 points in the second quarter when the Bulldogs outscored the Falcons by 13. She went over 1,000 career points when she drilled a three-pointer in transition with 3:05 to play in the half, giving Northern Lehigh a 22-7 lead. A three-point play with under a minute to play pushed the Bulldogs’ lead to 20 points.

The Falcons showed a glimmer of hope in the third quarter when five players recorded field goals and got Salisbury within 38-23.

But Saeger and the Bulldogs had an answer. Northern Lehigh opened the fourth quarter with six straight points to earn their largest lead of the game at 46-23.

Emma Niebell added 10 points for the Bulldogs, while Lauren Hoffman recorded nine.

Madison Bettuccio led Salisbury with 11 points. The Falcons were still without starting guard Olivia Hoeing, who has been held out for health reasons.

“There really is no big area that needs to change,” Reichenbach said. “This is a young team that needs to keep wanting to improve every practice and game. I’m committed to the girls, and I believe they are committed to me. Hopefully we will keep getting stronger, more aggressive at both ends of the floor, and will learn and progress from our mistakes and struggles this year.”

Salisbury picked up its first win of the season against Catasauqua last Thursday with a 49-35 victory. Up next is a matchup against Palmerton on Friday at home. Game time is set for 4 p.m. Results from Monday’s game against Wilson were not available at time of press.