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NWL boys to take on up-and-down Slaters

Northwestern Lehigh boys basketball head coach Pat Wannamaker played against the Tigers in league playoffs when he was a student-athlete at Northern Lehigh.

He also coached the Bulldogs before getting the Tigers’ head coaching job last year.

Now, he gets to coach his new team in the Colonial League tournament as it locked up the fourth seed Tuesday night with a 48-41 win over Catasauqua.

Northwestern (12-5, 15-7) is making just its third appearance in the league playoffs since 2007.

The playoffs get underway Saturday, and the Tigers will host Bangor (12-6, 12-10) at 6 p.m. as the nightcap of a girls-boys doubleheader at Northwestern.

The Northwestern defense stepped up down the stretch against Catasauqua (7-9, 8-13) to preserve the win for the Tigers.

With a stretch of three games in four days in the final week of the season, Northwestern was put to the test.

After a 39-35 loss to Salisbury (11-6, 14-8), Northwestern came back to get wins over Northern Lehigh and then beat Brandywine Heights in a nonleague game on Saturday.

The offense was turned up on high against Northern Lehigh (0-17, 2-20) as they scored a season-high 84 points in an 84-53 win, despite a barrage of 10 three-pointers by the Bulldogs.

The Tigers countered with six of their own getting one each from Ethan Kozlowski, Mason Bollinger, Cannon Fitch, Weiland Hite, Nolan Fitzgerald and Malachi Coleman.

Northwestern had three players in double digit scoring as Gavin Nelson led the team with 18 points, Mason Bollinger had 13, and Eli Zimmerman contributed 10 points to the scoring.

Northwestern led 47-19 at the half and Wannamaker was able to empty his bench to get playing time for younger players in the second half.

The high-powered offense continued to roll the next day in a 77-47 win over Brandywine Heights. Gavin Nelson led all scorers with 19 and Del Tyler (13) and Bollinger (12) were also in double-digits for the Tigers.

The Bullets led 18-16 at the end of the first quarter, but Northwestern took control of the game with a 29-point second quarter to lead 45-25 at the half. Kozlowski, Nelson, and Brady Zimmerman all hit three-pointers for the Tigers.

The Slaters and Tigers quarterfinal game figures to be a good one.

Northwestern downed Bangor 63-48 almost a month ago with Nelson scoring 18 points, Shane Marth 16, and Eli Zimmerman scoring 10 in the win. Bangor has had an up-and-down season and has gone 5-6 since losing to Salisbury back on January 11. That loss snapped a four-game win streak that had the Slaters at 7-4 at that point in the season.

When their offense is on, the Slaters can play against anybody and put up 80 points in a win over Northern Lehigh earlier in the season. In the second half of the season, they have averaged 56 points per game.

Defensively, Bangor may have a difficult time stopping the multifaceted offense of Northwestern Lehigh as the Tigers rely on leading scorer Nelson, but have other weapons like Kozlowski and Marth, who are capable of carrying the offense on any given night.

PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Northwestern's Del Tyler tries to find some space against Salisbury's Jake Zellin during last week's game.
PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ The Tigers' Shane Marth pulls down a rebound during last week's game against Salisbury.