North Pocono's girls varsity basketball team set for the Lackawanna League season
This season’s round of exhibition games was fairly challenging for the North Pocono varsity ladies.
Heading into the 2018 edition of the James Akens Holiday Tournament, the Lady Trojans sported an overall record of 4-3.
During previous weeks, they encountered a variety of teams that exposed them to myriad situations.
And, Head Coach Corey Valvano believes this has set his squad up for future success in Lackawanna League play.
“We played teams with different personalities and different systems,” said Valvano. “But, not those kinds of teams we’re going to see in league play.”
Although NP racked up wins against Pocono Mountain West, Pittston Area, Hanover Area, and Lakeland, it was the losses to Nanticoke, Riverside, and Allentown Central Catholic that Valvano felt the team got the most from.
The Trojans coach cited Nanticoke’s ability to lay traps with both man-to-man and zone defenses, as well as their relentlessness, as solid obstacles for North Pocono to contend with and grow from.
Riverside, he noted, was another test in man-to-man but also taught the Lady Trojans how to deal with turnovers that allowed the opposition to drive in for lay-ups.
Allentown Central Catholic, Valvano said, was a very patient team with calculated moves.
In all three iof these nstances, the NP skipper feels his players learned some valuable lessons.
Things went well for North Pocono during the first night of the annual Akens Holiday Tournament on December 27.
Facing neighboring Pocono Mountain East, they got out to an 8-6 lead after the first period, but the Cardinals came back in the second quarter to tie things at 17-17l at halftime.
After the break, the local lasses exploded in a stunning offensive performance that garnered 20 points. This outburst featured treys from Jordyn McDonough and Jenna Montana. Meanwhile, an aggressive defense led by Izzy Pehanick restricted the Cardinals to just a pair of buckets from the field.
While PME was able to muster up some more points in the final stanza, the home team prevailed and secured the 50-31 win.
Montana led the scoring for North Pocono with 13 points. Pehanick netted 10 and McDonough chipped in with nine.
Old Forge trampled Wyoming Valley West in the first day’s action of the Akens, locking up a spot in the championship game with their 48-30 victory over the Spartan ladies.
Versus North Pocono in the title tilt, they continued their dominance with an 8-0 first quarter run.
While NP made some gains against their visitors in the second, the Blue Devils outshot their hosts 27-17 in the second half, ultimately giving them a 40-24 win and the championship trophy.
“I thought we played our best quarter of the year during the third quarter of the Pocono Mountain East game,” Valvano said.
“We were rejuvenated and energized. That was a good sign and we hoped to carry that into the Old Forge game. Old Forge’s Abbey Nee got fifteen points against us and we just couldn’t execute our jump shots effectively.”
North Pocono has been good with spreading around the wealth, so far.
McDonough and Montana, along with Carena Colo, each have scored more than 60 points and have all been shooting well from downtown, close-in, and at the line.
Pehanick broke 40, and Brianna Ruby, Megan Carney and Jenna Beach have all contributed more than 30 to the cause.
“Jordyn has really stepped up with scoring and defense,” Valvano said.
“Izzy is playing great defense and is great rebounding. I think Carena and Jenna are ready to break out as well.”
While there may be other players on other teams in the division that have one or two girls that are great shooters, some of those same squads are still searching for a solid starting line-up.
Should the Lady Trojans trend upward as a whole, their depth will undoubtedly play a factor as other teams in the Lackawanna League plateau.
Any number of factors could sway things in NP’s favor now as league play is underway.
Defense will be the key.
If the Lady Trojans can lock down some of the bigger guns in the division, they will have a serious shot at taking a title.