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Lady Tigers win first two games

Back-to-back games in consecutive nights are the norm in basketball. What isn't so normal is a team winning both contests.

The Northwestern Lady Tigers did just that to open their season last weekend.

After defeating Whitehall 31-20 on Friday night, Northwestern beat Pleasant Valley 55-38 at Northwestern Lehigh High School to earn two nonleague victories heading in to the beginning of the Colonial League season.

The Tigers took the opening tip-off of Saturday's game and never looked back as they dominated the first quarter and led 13-6 despite seniors Sabrina Mertz (17 points) and Sarah Segan (five points) picking up two quick fouls each that forced head coach Chris Deutsch to go to his bench.

"Our bench is big for us," said Deutsch. "With the style that we play, we can't just play five or six girls. We need a good, deep bench. That is important."

Senior Erynn Day came off the bench and contributed three points and four rebounds to help stave of Pleasant Valley and keep the starters out of foul trouble.

A starter that eluded foul trouble was senior Trista Cunningham. The returning starter for Northwestern dropped 15 points and hauled in seven rebounds as she brought top-notch intensity every time.

"Winning this game was very important to this season," Cunningham said. "Winning both of these early games were. We are going to keep working off of that and keep improving and hopefully win more than we lose."

The Tigers felt the effects of playing two games in as many days as they failed to put the Lady Bears away. Northwestern built as high as 17 points, but after a 6-2 run by Pleasant Valley late in the third that carried momentum into the fourth quarter, the Northwestern was only up 40-30.

Despite allowing the Bears to score 15 points in the final quarter, the Tigers pulled away thanks to Cunningham scoring seven of her 15 points in the fourth to make it 51-35 with 2:20 left and made their foul shots to ice the game.

Junior Erika Thomas scored 15 points to help the Lady Tigers, six of which came from behind the arc.

Deutsch was thrilled about gaining two wins against a pair of Class AAAA schools, although he did notice the girls dragging in the latter half of the game.

"We were fatigued," he said. "We played a close game last night and another physical game today. The girls were tired, but I loved that we got a win and that we had great energy despite being tired."

Starting out the season with two nonleague wins is great for the Lady Tigers as they enter their Colonial League schedule this week. Tuesday's games were postponed because of snow. Northwestern will face Northern Lehigh on Friday then take on Liberty on Saturday.