COAL TOWNSHIP - A change in defense was the catalyst that lifted Lourdes Regional to a key 52-34 Schuylkill League Division II win over Minersville Tuesday at Lourdes.

Leading by four points at halftime, 23-19, Lourdes went to a 3-2 trapping defense and forced Minersville into a series of turnovers, holding the Miners to three points in the third quarter and building a 16-point lead.

Lourdes improved to 14-4 overall and 7-3 in Division II, staying on the heels of division-leading Williams Valley and keeping the Miners (7-12, 4-7) at arm's length behind.

"We took a timeout with about 1:40 left (in the first half) and went into the 3-2, which we call our matchup zone, and they went about 10 minutes with three points," Lourdes coach Pete Long said. "We were able to extend the lead a little. As far as team defense goes, this is about as good as we've played this season."

Conversely, the Red Raiders took care of the ball when they had it, committing just seven turnovers to Minersville's 16, and placing three players in double figures. Anthony Pennypacker led Lourdes

with 16 points, but Mike Menapace was the real catalyst. Looking for his shot early, Menapace scored 13 points, tied with Justin Howal for the team lead in rebounds with eight, and added three assists and three steals.

"Michael is capable of doing that," Long said. "We rely so much on (Matt) Savitski, Pennypacker and (Zach) Oquendo that we sometimes forget about him."

Oquendo added 10 points and five rebounds for the Red Raiders, who put the game away by making 10 of 14 foul shots in the final quarter.

Lourdes' defense was so good that the Raiders limited the Miners to 32 shots and no Minersville player was in double figures. Larry Bethea led Minersville with nine points and seven rebounds.

"We're getting better every game, and that's what you look for as a coach," Long said. "We need to win out to have a shot at winning the division."

Lourdes has a division road game at Schuylkill Haven on Friday.

Game Summary

MINERSVILLE (34) - King 1 0-0 2, Melochick1 0-0 3, Bethea 3 3-4 9, Hashin 0 0-0 0, Fritz 2 2-5 8, J. McBreen 0 0-0 0, Firestine 0 4-8 4, N. McBreen 0 0-0 0, Brophy 1 0-0 2, Fedornak 3 0-0 6. Totals 11 9-18 34.

LOURDES (52) - Menapace 6 1-2 13, Gilger 0 2-4 2, Pennypacker 4 8-12 16, Savitski 2 1-2 7, Oquendo 4 2-2 10, L. Holleran 0 0-0 0, T. Holleran 0 0-0 0, Maneval 0 0-0 0, Feese 0 0-0 0, Mirarcki 0 0-0 0, Howal 1 2-2 4, Costa 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 16-24 52.

3-point FGs: Minersville (3) - Melochick, Fritz 2; Lourdes (2) - Savitski 2