The Tamaqua Blue Raiders entered the Cesari-Hope gymnasium hoping to make an upset happen. And they nearly did. The second game for North Schuylkill Spartans boys’ basketball was filled with drama, passion, and great athletic displays. Those factors led to a close game that would be hotly contested until late in the fourth quarter. One that fans would surely not be disappointed by.
Both teams had some defensive miscues in the first, leading to some easy buckets for the opposition. The Spartans took advantage of the mistakes by making moves into the paint to draw fouls or connect on layups. They also added a three-pointer from Fernando Rivera.
Not to be outdone, Connor Dillon of the Blue Raiders connected on a three-ball of his own while adding two points off of free throws in the quarter. Cooper Ansbach and Luke Kane added two points each for Tamaqua. For the Spartans, Jack Keiter and Zane Zulkowski contributed four, while big man Aiden Zilker tallied a point off of a free throw. North Schuylkill held the lead after one. The score was 12-9.
The Blue Raiders pumped up their offensive effort in the second quarter. Noah Mateyak scored eight points, including an off-balance three-pointer. Ansbach and Kane contributed two points each for the Raiders. For the Spartans, Zulkowski paced the scoring with four. Keiter had three, and Luke Miller connected on a lone three-pointer. Heading into the half, an upset was in the cards, with the score being 24-22 in favor of the Spartans.
Tamaqua used a balanced offensive attack to gain ground in the third. Mateyak led the scoring for the Raiders with seven. Micheal Styka and Connor Dillon added five points each. Cooper Ansbach and Luke Kane each scored one point.
The Spartans ran their offense through their stars in the third. Zulkowski scored nine, and Keiter scored three. Tamaqua’s offensive output would prove valuable, giving them the lead at the end of the quarter 38-36.
It was gut-check time for the Spartans, but they were not going to go down easy. The Spartans played tough and managed to run their offense through their stars while also getting others involved. Aiden Zilker, Luke Miller, and Jude Maziekas all scored two points in the final quarter. Jack Keiter and Zane Zulkowski both scored eight. It was Zulkowski’s and-one layup that proved to be the difference of the night.
The Blue Raiders did not go lightly themselves. Luke Kane converted an and-one opportunity while Noah Mateyak connected with a three-pointer. Micheal Styka also added two after some nice work on the offensive glass. The Spartans got a defensive stop on Tamaqua’s final possession to seal it.
The game ended with the final score of 58-49 in favor of North Schuylkill. The Spartans will remain home to take on Blue Mountain in a Schuylkill League championship rematch in their next game. The Raiders will head back home to take on the Nativity Green Wave.
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