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IMG_9309BY JEFF FALK

LEBANON – The program has certainly captured more important titles. But by winning the championship of the Lebanon Booster Club Holiday Tournament it shows how high the ceiling is for this Lebanon Catholic girls’ basketball group, and that the Beavers might be capable of winning some of those other types of titles.

On Tuesday night, the Beavers secured the championship of the Cedars’ Christmas event with a thrilling, come-from-behind, 58-52 overtime triumph over Manheim Township in the title tilt. After Beaver Jayden Shellehamer had sent the game to OT with a three-pointer with seven seconds left, Lebanon Catholic outscored the Blue Streaks 12-6 in the four-minute extra session.

IMG_9299Lebanon Catholic notched the first basket of overtime on a driving lay-in by sophomore Neesha Pierre, and took the lead for good two minutes later on a stick-back from Mariah Sholly. Then, thanks to another drive by Pierre, a foul shot from Sholly and two charity tosses from Pierre, the Beavers opened a 56-50 lead with 36 seconds of overtime remaining.

Shellehamer’s long ‘three’ from the top of the arc had tied the contest at 46, and it resembled a play which had been drawn up for teammate Allison Warren, six seconds earlier. Warren’s tying attempt from the same spot was off the mark, but the hustling Beavers were able to stay with the play, and out of a scramble found an open Shellehamer, who nailed it.

‘We have goals for the year,” said Lebanon Catholic head coach Patti Hower, careful not to tip her hand. “Our goals center around the postseason, in Class A. Until then, we’re going to learn from every game we play.

IMG_9262“As coaches, we have looked ahead,” Hower continued. “We’ve scouted some teams. But they (her players) don’t need to focus on that. But we’re not going to play anyone that big (as Manheim Township, in Class A).”

“I guess people can’t under-estimate us any more,” said Pierre, who was named the tournament’s MVP. “We can use this as a confidence boost. At times, we need confidence.”

Lebanon Catholic’s second win over a Class AAAA team in as many nights – and fifth in its last six outings overall – lifted it to 6-3 on the year. Manheim Township, which is tied for first place in Section One of the Lancaster-Lebanon League, had its six-game winning streak snapped and slipped to 6-5 on the season.

“It was what we drew up, but we talked about that they’re (the Blue Streaks) going to try to take it away, and that everybody should be ready,” said Hower of those crazy seconds near the end of regulation. “In that last five seconds, anything can happen. We were tired. But they were tired too.

IMG_9208“Allison has been struggling a little bit with her outside shot,” continued Hower. “But it’s looked good in practice, and we knew she was going to get on track sometime, and tonight she did. She was open. Her getting on track with her shot is big for us, because we need her. The fact that Jayden took it shows a lot of confidence. You have to know time and score.”

“It is important to us,” said Pierre. “Mrs. Hower says when we play bigger schools, they expect to beat us. We’re always the underdog. It was tough. It was tougher than we thought it was going to be. But we got it together.”

Manheim Township led 31-24 midway through the third quarter, but behind Warren’s trey, Pierre’s two points and Celine Mars’ foul shot, the Beavers rattled off nine straight points and assumed a 33-31 edge, on a three-pointer from Sholly, 13 seconds int the fourth period. Thanks in part to a 3:45 Beaver scoring drought, the Blue Streaks forged to a 44-38 advantage, with under two minutes left in regulation.

IMG_9219But Catholic wasn’t through. Pierre scored on a drive with 1:20 remaining, and then after Township missed two front ends of one-and-ones, Warren drained the three-pointer that brought the Beavers to within 44-43, with 42 seconds showing on the clock.

“For us, it was huge,” said Hower. “They (her girls) came back. It’s a tournament championship. We beat a quad-A school who’s in first place. We did a little bit of everything.

“We played well tonight,” Hower added. “I feel good that when we go into games we’re capable of competing. It’s got to give us some confidence. We want to win out and finish second in the section (Four of the Lancaster-Lebanon League).”

In winning the tournament MVP, Pierre netted a game-high 20 points. She was joined on the all-tournament team by Sholly, who notched ten points, while Warren drilled four treys and tallied 14 points.

IMG_9267“We got great balance in our scoring. That’s key,” said Hower. “They (her players) were playing well. We know we can compete. The fact that we were losing and came back is going to help us.

“They (her players) kept executing,” added Hower. “We switched up our offense a little bit. I thought they (her players) did a good job of making their adjustments, so we didn’t have to call timeouts.”

“It meant a lot to me,” said Pierre of the MVP award. “I was really surprised, but yeah, I thought I could get it. Even from my freshman year to my sophomore year, I know I have improved. I’m scared and shy, but I’ve cracked my outer shell to be more confident.”

IMG_9261Lebanon Catholic led 11-8 on a Pierre put-back five minutes in, and 13-11 courtesy of a Sholly drive a minute later. But the Blue Streaks registered the next six points to open a 17-13 margin early in the second stanza.

The Beavers responded by holding Manheim Township scoreless for the next four minutes of the second period, during which time they got a three-pointer from Warren, a driving lay-in from Pierre and a hard cut to the basket from Mars, to establish a 20-17 cushion.

“We keep practicing our execution, especially on offense,” said Hower. “Coming into this tournament, and beating Lebanon and beating Manheim Township, I hope they (her players) see how the practice is paying off. Our availability of different options is greater, both offensively and defensively. It’s much better. Our basketball IQ is definitely higher.”

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

 

 

 

 

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IMG_92902015-16 Lebanon Catholic Girls’ Basketball Schedule

DATE OPPONENT TIME RESULT
12/05
Steel-High
2:30 PM
12/09
Harrisburg Academy
6:00 PM W 55-33
12/11 *
Elco
7:30 PM L 42-45
12/14 *
@Northern Lebanon
7:30 PM L 36-47
12/16 *
Lampeter-Strasburg
7:30 PM W 58-42
12/18 *
Annville-Cleona
7:30 PM W 46-27
12/21 *
@Lancaster Catholic
7:30 PM L 32-74
12/23 *
@Lancaster Mennonite
7:30 PM W 58-28
12/28 #
@Lebanon
7:30 PM W 51-45
12/29 #
Manheim Twp.
7:30 PM W 58-52
DATE OPPONENT TIME LOCATION
01/04
Veritas Academy
6:00 PM Lebanon Catholic School
01/05 *
Pequea Valley
7:30 PM Lebanon Catholic School
01/08 *
@Columbia
7:30 PM Columbia High School
01/11 *
@Donegal
7:30 PM Donegal High School
01/13 *
Manheim Central
7:30 PM Lebanon Catholic School
01/15 *
@Cocalico
7:30 PM Cocalico High School
01/19 *
@Annville-Cleona
7:30 PM Annville-Cleona High School
01/22 *
Lancaster Catholic
7:30 PM Lebanon Catholic School
01/23
@West Shore Christian
6:00 PM West Shore Christian Academy
01/25 *
Lancaster Mennonite
7:30 PM Lebanon Catholic School
01/28 *
@Pequea Valley
7:30 PM Pequea Valley High School
02/02 *
Columbia
7:30 PM Lebanon Catholic School

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