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IMG_8561BY JEFF FALK

FREDERICKSBURG – Northern Lebanon and Annville-Cleona are boys’ basketball teams that aren’t all that dissimilar.

Both are off to fast starts. Neither has an especially strong tradition within Section Three of the Lancaster-Lebanon League. And each has somewhat higher expectations in the league this season.

On Friday night at Northern Lebanon High School, it appeared that it was the Vikings’ expectations that might be a bit more realistic, as they shaded the Little Dutchmen 63-59 in the L-L Section Three opener for both squads. Northern Lebanon won it with a big second half, and by offsetting a monster outing by Annville-Cleona’s Noah Myers with balanced scoring.

IMG_8346The victory moved the Vikings to 3-1 overall. The result was the first loss of the season for the Little Dutchmen, now 3-1.

“The last two years, we came into this game, the first game in the section against Annville-Cleona, and we didn’t play well. We struggled,” said Northern Lebanon head coach Chris George. “Having this first section game at home was really big. I see Annville-Cleona. I see Columbia, and obviously (Lancaster) Mennonite and (Lancaster) Catholic are going to be there. But we can’t look ahead. The only loss we have is to Donegal, and they’re undefeated.

“We’re a win away from being undefeated,” continued George. “But we want to remind our guys of the Donegal game. We want to make them understand what it takes to get better. But we’re fairly pleased at 3-1.”

“The Lancaster teams are still good,” said Annville-Cleona head coach Chris Bradford. “Elco is good. Chris roughed us up and took advantage of us. I don’t see weak spots (in Section Three). We’ve got to play tough every night. But we’re still going to fight for what we think is our’s in the section.

“Our expectations are very high,” Bradford continued. “But we got off to the same start last year. We know how that starts out. We still want to get the next game. We want to make sure we get back to winning.”

IMG_8562Down 27-19 early in the second half, Northern Lebanon went on a 13-2 scoring spree and took a 32-29 advantage on a charity toss from senior Caleb Light, with 2:24 left in the third period. It was Light’s fifth point in the spurt, while teammate Alex Yeager contributed a pair of triples and Josh Bowers laid in a deuce.

“I thought our defense was really good in the first half,” said George. “You have to tip your hat to Myers. We played better offense in the second half. But our defense held us in it.

“When you’re an outside shooting team, it’s going to come and go,” added George. “We have to box out every night. It took us a while, but we figured out their zone.”

“They’ve got guys over there who are old and experienced, just like us,” said Bradford. “We did well getting to the free throw line in the first half, but they (the Vikings) stole it away from us in the second half. Chris (George) made a great adjustment by putting Caleb (Light) up high, and I didn’t react. That’s on me.

“I don’t think we played well,” Bradford added. “I think our guys would tell you the same thing. We’re not happy with the turnovers. We’re not happy with the decision-making.”

If the third quarter was when the Vikings right their ship, it was the fourth quarter when they seized their opportunity.

On tallies from Light, Yeager and Henry Hubbard, Northern Lebanon scored the first six points of the final period to open a 45-37 bulge. That lead reached 54-42 on a charity toss from Hubbard, with 2:49 remaining.

Northern Lebanon actually scored its last dozen points at the foul stripe, on 12-of-20 free throwing, to counter Myers’ best efforts on the other end.

“It wasn’t one of our sharpest games,” said George. “Give Annville-Cleona credit. They threw some different things at us. We had 15 points in the first half, and then we exploded. We moved some chess pieces around. You can make adjustments, but the kids have got to make the plays. The kids really stepped up tonight. We needed some inside presence and Josh (Bowers) and Caleb (Light) did a great job.

“I think the difference is enthusiasm,” George continued. “Our kids are playing with a totally different enthusiasm. It’s really cool to see. Obviously it helps to get off to a 3-1 start.”

IMG_8370“The message was going to be the same,” said Bradford of the post-game address to his charges. “We’re four games in. They’re (his players) upset. Win or lose, we were going to forget that. We’ve got a long way to go. We’re still fine.

“When we played well, it was our ball movement and not settling (for shots),” continued Bradford. “When we can move (opponents) guys around defensively, we can be effective. When we slow down, we settle. And we didn’t take care of the basketball.”

With 22 points on four deuces, three treys and five-for-six at the charity stripe, Yeager showed the way for Northern Lebanon. He was supported by Light’s 15 points and Hubbard’s 12.

Myers totaled 31 points and his ten field goals were evenly split between two-pointers and three-pointers. Ryan Matthews pumped in 15 points for Annville-Cleona.

The Vikings made good on 22 of 33 free throw attempts and outscored the Little Dutchmen by eight points there.

IMG_8488“I love Donald Friday,” said George of Annville-Cleona’s senior combo guard. “I love the way he plays the game. He gets into the paint and makes great decisions. Myers is super talented. He’s a tough guard. (DaShaun) Archer was a focal point for us. We knew Myers was going to get his.

“I thought Henry (Hubbard) and Caleb were big keys defensively tonight,” George added. “Defense is carrying us right now. We’re getting hot. We’re a really tough team to guard when we’re winning in the fourth quarter.”

“(Numbers) Thirty (Yeager) and One (Light) are their fuel,” said Bradford. “Not to take anything away from anyone else. Those guys are interchangeable. But they (Yeager and Light) got themselves into positions to make basketball plays. They’re shot makers. They’re basket makers.”

Northern Lebanon led 7-4 on a couple of foul shots from Cameron Gensler midway through the opening stanza, and 10-7 on a driving lay-up by Christian Trader 2:25 into the second period.

IMG_8416But the Little Dutchmen hit the Vikings with an overwhelming 15-3 run to assume a 21-13 lead late in the first half. Myers accounted for eight of those points, Friday popped for four and Matthews had three.

“We’re three guys down and we have guys stepping up,” said George of some early season injuries. “Thomas Folmer and Josh Bowers have been the biggest surprises. We’ve leaned really heavily on Henry, Caleb and Alex.

“Alex is a ticking time bomb,” continued George. “He can go off any moment. He’s a slasher. He’s doing a nice job. He’s not forcing it. Sometimes we’d like him to be a little more aggressive. We’re preaching (Golden State) Warriors’ and (San Antonio) Spurs’ basketball. You don’t see a lot of one-on-one basketball with our guys. We’re trying to preach spacing and team basketball.”

“It was our first Section Three game,” said Bradford. “Nothing was going to be determined tonight. Yeah, we wanted to win the basketball game. But we move on.

“We knew going into Section Three games it was going to get more intense, get more competitive,” Bradford continued. “We expected more of a fight. It’s different being back in the Lancaster-Lebanon League.”

 

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 To purchase images in this article email jkifalk2005@yahoo.com, or to view more go to https://lebanonsportsbuzz.com/photo-gallery/.

 

 

 

 

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2017-18 Annville-Cleona Boys’ Basketball Schedule

Date Teams Score
12/08
7:00 pm
Annville-Cleona
Northern Lehigh
at Hamburg H.S.
42
35
12/09
3:30 pm
Annville-Cleona
Brandywine Heights
at Hamburg H.S.
63
44
12/12
7:30 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Tulpehocken
63
37
12/15
7:30 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Northern Lebanon
59
63
12/18
7:30 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Columbia
12/20
7:30 pm
Lancaster Catholic
at Annville-Cleona
12/22
7:30 pm
Elco
at Annville-Cleona
12/27
TBD
TBA
at Annville-Cleona
12/28
TBD
TBA
at Annville-Cleona
1/05
7:30 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Lancaster Mennonite
1/06
3:00 pm
Middletown
Annville-Cleona
at Lebanon Valley College
1/09
7:30 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Pequea Valley
1/12
7:30 pm
Lebanon Catholic
at Annville-Cleona
1/13
7:30 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Kutztown
1/16
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Annville-Cleona
1/19
7:30 pm
Columbia
at Annville-Cleona
1/23
7:30 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Lancaster Catholic
1/26
7:30 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Elco
1/27
2:30 pm
Oley Valley
at Annville-Cleona
1/30
7:30 pm
Lancaster Mennonite
at Annville-Cleona
2/02
7:30 pm
Pequea Valley
at Annville-Cleona
2/06
7:30 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Lebanon Catholic

 

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2017-18 Northern Lebanon Boys’ Basketball Schedule

Date Teams Score
12/08
6:00 pm
Palmyra
Northern Lebanon
at Donegal
37
49
12/09
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Donegal
52
55
12/13
7:30 pm
Conrad Weiser
at Northern Lebanon
59
67
12/15
7:30 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Northern Lebanon
59
63
12/18
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Lebanon Catholic
12/20
7:30 pm
Columbia
at Northern Lebanon
12/22
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Pequea Valley
12/27
7:30 pm
Daniel Boone
at Northern Lebanon
12/28
TBD
TBA
at Northern Lebanon
1/05
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Lancaster Catholic
1/09
7:30 pm
Lancaster Mennonite
at Northern Lebanon
1/12
7:30 pm
Elco
at Northern Lebanon
1/16
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Annville-Cleona
1/18
7:30 pm
Middletown
at Northern Lebanon
1/19
7:30 pm
Lebanon Catholic
at Northern Lebanon
1/20
2:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Tulpehocken
1/23
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Columbia
1/25
7:30 pm
Manheim Central
at Northern Lebanon
1/26
7:30 pm
Pequea Valley
at Northern Lebanon
1/30
7:30 pm
Lancaster Catholic
at Northern Lebanon
2/02
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Lancaster Mennonite
2/06
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Elco

 

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