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FREDERICKSBURG – Somebody was going to win. Somebody was going to lose.

Someone was going to move on. The other was going to go home.

One came in peaking. The other came in limping.

So who won? Not necessarily the side which wanted it the most, but the one which needed it the most.

On Monday night in front of a sold-out crowd at Northern Lebanon High School, it was the veteran and seasoned host Vikings who emerged with a season-saving 74-65 victory over rival Elco, in a play-in game to the District Three Class AAAA playoffs. After the upstart Raiders had owned the first half of play, Northern Lebanon took charge of the outcome in the second 16 minutes of action.

IMG_6141A season-ending loss simply would’ve been devastating to a Viking club, which came in riding a four-game losing streak. But as it is, seventh-seeded Northern Lebanon’s 16-8 campaign – its best in recent memory – will continue on Thursday at 7 p.m. at second-seeded Berks Catholic, in the quarterfinal round of the District Three Class AAAA tournament.

The outcome guaranteed Northern Lebanon at least two more games in the district event.

For the tenth-seeded Raiders, the bright future almost arrived early. Elco, which concluded its rewarding year at  12-11, won four straight regular-season contests to qualify for the postseason.

The two clubs split a pair of regular-season meetings. Northern Lebanon won 45-44 in Fredericksburg on January 12th, while Elco triumphed 56-43 in Myerstown on February 6th.

IMG_6211“It would’ve crushed us, to lose tonight,” said Northern Lebanon head coach Chris George. “No disrespect to Elco. We have five senior starters. We needed this game. The program needed this game. We played with a lot of guts. Down 14 points, it would’ve been easy to sort of pack it in. We didn’t do anything special. We started playing a little better offense.

“The Elco game at Elco, we played terrible,” continued George. “Elco played great, and we didn’t. Outside of that, we didn’t play bad (during the four-game losing streak). In the Hempfield game, I thought we played fairly well. We just didn’t make a couple of hustle plays. I thought early in the game tonight, Elco was making the hustle plays.”

“I don’t know if I would’ve thought that at the beginning of the season,” said Elco head coach Brad Conners. “I thought we picked the right time to play well. It just started clicking. We felt like we made every shot in the first quarter.

“I really thought we were a top-three team in our section. We thought that,” Conners continued. “Our schedule early on is tough. We play some really tough teams. I thought our kids met the expectations. Maybe everybody else, they exceeded their expectations. We feel like that (early games) prepares us for things down the stretch.”

Down seven points at the intermission, the Vikings made their move in the third quarter.

A reverse lay-up from Cameron Gensler and a three-pointer from Henry Hubbard in the middle of the period drew Northern Lebanon to within 41-40 of the lead. Then the Vikings outscored the Raiders 10-2 over the final 1:32 of the third – Gensler collected six of those points, while Caleb Light scored on a driving lay-in and Alex Yeager nailed a pull-up – to gain their first advantage of the evening, 52-49.

“He felt the momentum and he felt the stage,” said George of Gensler. “For the most part, our offense has flown through Cam. I thought Cam had a nice second half.

IMG_6228“We put up 45 points in the second half,” George added. “We’ve had some huge second halves here. We’re (the seniors) never going to play on this court again, so it was a good way to end it here. We got hot in the second half. But I think there were a couple of plays early that helped us out.”

“I thought we were playing just as well in the second half,” said Conners. “We were getting good shots, we just weren’t knocking them down. We just didn’t hit some of the same shots. And defensively we lost sight of where they (the Vikings) were.

“That (Gensler’s three-pointer near the end of the third quarter) felt like a dagger,” added Conners. “Credit to them. They made their shots.”

With it squarely in their corner, the Vikings’ momentum spilled over into the final stanza.

A Hubbard three-pointer, three points from Light and a Gensler jumper added up to eight straight Viking points, and they extended their lead to 60-51, three minutes into the fourth quarter. A subsequent 7-0 run, which consisted of free throws from Michigan Daub, Light and Yeager, gave Northern Lebanon a 67-53 bulge, with 1:28 to go.

IMG_6136“It’s huge,” said George. “We were competing for a section title. We wanted to get to the playoffs and make some noise. We took a lot of confidence from the Hempfield game. We were feeling good about ourselves coming in.

“It was just an awesome atmosphere,” George continued. “That Elco group there, they just battle. It’s scary how good they are. They’ve got some good talent coming up. They know their roles.”

“That’s what you play for,” said Conners of the environment. “That’s what the summer’s for, all for this atmosphere. It’s something they’ll (his players) take with them.”

Light and Yeager combined for 47 of Northern Lebanon’s total points. Gensler scored 11 points and Daub notched ten.

Braden Bohannon poured in 16 points for the Raiders, Bryce Coletti popped for 14 points and Blake Weary connected on four three-pointers for 12 points.  But the Vikings outscored the Raiders 19-4 at the charity stripe.

IMG_6255“I think some of it comes from Caleb and Michigan,” said George. “They’re not going to let us being down five (points) get to us. They’ve been through some wars. I thought Michigan being all over the court was key. We’ve been on Michigan to be better off the ball.”

“They are tough,” said Conners of the Vikings. “Caleb is a man. He’s not going to stop. He’s hard to stay in front of, and we didn’t. At our place (against Northern Lebanon) we played a lot more zone.”

The Raiders started the game on fire.

With Jeff Lorah canning five and Coletti converting a drive, Elco notched the first seven points of the contest. The Raiders’ lead reached 16-4 on another driving lay-up from Coletti.

But thanks in part to a three-pointer from Light, the Vikings closed to within 20-13 by the end of the opening quarter.

“You would think giving up 36 points in the first half wouldn’t be good, but we didn’t play bad defense,” said George. “Elco played well, and our offense was bad. Elco had a great student section, and things started to go bad.

IMG_6185“I thought our defense, at times, kept us in it,” George added. “We have some very talented kids. Then our offense exploded, and we got some ‘stops’ at key times.”

“In the first half, we played really good,” said Conners. “We were knocking down shots. We fed off energy. The second half got us. We have up 45 points. Give those guys credit. That back-court is solid. I thought they came out defensively and tightened it up.

“The kids were running over to me during timeouts,” added Conners. “I told them, ‘You know this energy can’t last the whole game.’ But it was a great experience for our young guys, and a great experience for our seniors.”

Elco’s lead peaked at 31-17, on a foul shot from Lorah. 4:18 into the second period. But with Yeager draining a pair of three-pointers, Light tallying five points and Gensler throwing in a foul shot, Northern Lebanon closed the first half with a 12-5 flurry to pull within 36-29.

IMG_6246“It’s been a process getting Michigan back,” said George, of a lingering injury to Daub. “But of all the kids on the team, Josh Bowers has been our most unsung guy. He does all the dirty work. Tonight when Josh went in the game, our offense took off. He does all the little things. In some ways, him not being on the floor hurts our offense a little bit.

“He’s accepted his role as our sixth man,” continued George. “He said to me, “I assume when everybody comes back I’m not going to be a starter.’ He’s a glue guy. Our first five seniors are great for us. We don’t always play well offensively, but defensively we have to roll with them.

“There’s a number of games that stick out,” said Conners. “We needed all of those games down the stretch. There are a number of games you could go back to.

“It’s (the experience) huge,” Conners continued. “Now they’ve (his players) had a taste. Just to have that experience to keep with them, to motivate them in the summer.”















To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com, or to view more go to https://lebanonsportsbuzz.com/photo-gallery/.


















2017-18 Northern Lebanon Boys’ Basketball Results

Date Opponents Results
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 80 36
12/20 7:30 pm Columbia at Northern Lebanon 48 56
12/22 7:30 pm Northern Lebanon at Pequea Valley 83 45
12/27 7:30 pm Daniel Boone at Northern Lebanon 55 66
12/28 7:30 pm Penn Manor at Northern Lebanon 54 51
1/09 7:30 pm Lancaster Mennonite at Northern Lebanon 62 63
1/11 7:30 pm Northern Lebanon at Lancaster Catholic 38 61
1/12 7:30 pm Elco at Northern Lebanon 44 45
1/18 7:30 pm Middletown at Northern Lebanon 71 61
1/19 7:30 pm Lebanon Catholic at Northern Lebanon 35 76
1/20 2:30 pm Northern Lebanon at Tulpehocken 74 52
1/22 7:30 pm Northern Lebanon at Annville-Cleona 55 42
1/23 7:30 pm Northern Lebanon at Columbia 59 50
1/25 7:30 pm Manheim Central at Northern Lebanon 40 43
1/26 7:30 pm Pequea Valley at Northern Lebanon 23 67
1/30 7:30 pm Lancaster Catholic at Northern Lebanon 55 54
2/02 7:30 pm Northern Lebanon at Lancaster Mennonite 43 66
2/06 7:30 pm Northern Lebanon at Elco 43 56
2/12 7:00 pm Northern Lebanon at Hempfield 41 58
2/19 7:00 pm Elco at Northern Lebanon
 2017-18 Elco Boys’ Basketball Results
Date Opponents Results
12/08 7:45 pm Cedar Crest Elco at Lebanon 68 44
12/09 6:00 pm Red Lion at Elco 52 43
12/12 7:30 pm Manheim Central at Elco 48 53
12/15 7:30 pm Lancaster Catholic at Elco 60 55
12/18 7:30 pm Elco at Lancaster Mennonite 49 65
12/20 7:30 pm Lebanon Catholic at Elco 44 86
12/27 2:00 pm Palmyra Elco at Ephrata 52 57
12/28 6:00 pm Elco at Ephrata 36 57
1/02 7:30 pm Elco at Annville-Cleona 75 68
1/06 2:30 pm Pequea Valley at Elco 38 83
1/09 7:30 pm Columbia at Elco 48 84
1/12 7:30 pm Elco at Northern Lebanon 44 45
1/13 2:30 pm Solanco at Elco 57 60
1/18 7:30 pm Elco at Lancaster Catholic 40 63
1/19 7:30 pm Lancaster Mennonite at Elco 47 41
1/20 12:00 pm Conrad Weiser at Elco 62 53
1/23 7:30 pm Elco at Lebanon Catholic 68 44
1/24 7:30 pm Elco at Middletown 62 72
1/26 7:30 pm Annville-Cleona at Elco 39 57
1/30 7:30 pm Elco at Pequea Valley 54 34
2/02 7:30 pm Elco at Columbia 66 46
2/06 7:30 pm Northern Lebanon at Elco 43 56
2/19 7:00 pm Elco at Northern Lebanon
 IMG_6219Lancaster-Lebanon League
 Section Three Standings
League Overall
Lancaster Catholic 14 0 100.00 22 3 88.00 1493 1125
Lancaster Mennonite 11 3 78.57 17 7 70.83 1504 1183
Northern Lebanon 10 4 71.43 16 8 66.67 1403 1221
Elco 9 5 64.29 12 11 52.17 1331 1226
Annville-Cleona 5 9 35.71 10 12 45.45 1183 1213
Columbia 5 9 35.71 8 13 38.10 1189 1193
Pequea Valley 2 12 14.29 3 19 13.64 928 1410
Lebanon Catholic 0 14 0.00 3 14 17.65 691 1108







 District Three
 Class AAAA Play-In Game
 (at Northern Lebanon High School)

Northern Lebanon 74, Elco 65

Elco (65)

Lorah 3 2-4 8, Bohannon 7 0-0 16, Weary 4 0-0 12, Coletti 6 0-0 14, Kemble 4 0-0 8, Huey 1 2-2 5, Ginder 1 0-0 2. Totals: 26 4-6 65.

Northern Lebanon (74)

Light 7 7-10 24, Yeager 7 6-6 23, Gensler 4 2-5 11, Daub 3 4-6 10, Hubbard 2 0-0 6, Bowers 0 0-0 0. Totals: 23 19-27

Elco 20 16 13 16 – 65

Northern Lebanon 13 16 22 23 – 74

Three-pointers: Elco – Weary 4, Bohannon 2, Coletti 2, Huey. NL – Light 3, Yeager 3, Hubbard 2, Gensler.

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