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Lebanon Catholic's total of 20 championships is a District Three record and more than all the other Lebanon County basketball programs have won combined. 

IMG_7720BY JEFF FALK

HERSHEY – It’s more of a local holiday than a regional one, for now. Every year it falls near the middle of lent, usually on a Thursday.

It’s called ‘Districts Day’.

It’s a celebration of Catholic education and a spiritually-centered existence. Kids get out of school, grown-ups leave work early and officials temporarily leave their guards down.

IMG_7876It used to be staged at Hersheypark Arena, but now it’s hosted at Giant Center. Old friends turn out, family members reunite and it’s good seeing everyone again.

The kids play basketball – at least the girls do.

It’s the best day ever.

On Thursday evening at Hershey’s Giant Center, the Lebanon Catholic girls’ basketball team celebrated ‘Districts Day’ like it always does, with a 46-36 win over Linden Hall, a trophy, some smiles and an impromptu, yet well-rehearsed celebration. Later, everyone had cake and ice cream.

IMG_7707‘Districts Day’ only seems like an annual event. Yesterday marked the 20th successful one overall, and the Beavers’ fourth straight.

“It never gets old,” said Lebanon Catholic head coach Patti Hower, the founder of ‘Districts Day’. “We were excited. I will definitely remember that we had to fight for this one. It’s (20) a good number. As a school, it’s a neat thing. For some of our seniors, they don’t know what it’s not like to be here. We’re a marked team. Linden Hall gave it their best shot.

“It’s a special group,” continued Hower. “They’re (her players) very, very talented. I want them as seniors, to go out as champions. That’s (a certain reserved excitement) the way they are. We’re on a mission.”

“It’s exciting,” said Lebanon Catholic senior guard Jasmine Turner. “We went through this last year, but it’s great to do it again. We definitely see this as a success, but we’re looking forward to states. We think we can copy what we did last year.”

This particular ‘Districts Day’ was different than most in that Lebanon Catholic was forced to work much harder and longer for its celebration. The contest was hard-fought and tight for most of three quarters, before the Beavers’ experience, versatility and championship pedigree shone through.

The Beavers actually trailed 31-28, with 2:18 left of the third quarter. But some extra added defensive pressure on the ball produced a 7:51 score-less stretch by Linden Hall, 12 straight Lebanon Catholic points and a 40-31 Beaver lead, with two-and-a-half minutes to go.

The title run began with third-quarter free throws from Neesha Pierre and Alexis Hill and culminated with a charity toss from Turner. During the interim, Pierre scored on a drive, Taylor Bossert drilled a three-pointer, and Hill and Celine Mars dropped in stick-backs.

“They played an awesome game,” said Hower of her charges. “Their (the Lions’) size bothered us. They’ve gotten better since Christmas (when Lebanon Catholic defeated the Lions 56-24). We knew it would be tough. It was, but our kids responded. We kept up our intensity. I thought in the fourth quarter we were awesome.

IMG_7803“I could see our momentum picked up and our defensive intensity picked up,” Hower continued. “They (the Lions) weren’t getting it down low. In the fourth quarter, down one, that hasn’t happened much to us this year. It was a good team win. Everyone contributed.”

“We didn’t come out as hard as we expected to,” said Turner. “We didn’t come out on our toes. It was definitely one of our harder games. But once we got the rhythm, we kept it going.”

Linden Hall scored five of the second half’s first six points to erase the Beavers’ four-point halftime lead. But Hill and Mars scored baskets three seconds apart to give Lebanon Catholic a 28-24 lead.

“That’s been our M.O. all year,” said Hower. “Our defense makes our offense go. We like to play in transition.

“Defensively, for the most part, we did a pretty good job against their size,” Hower added. “All  of them (her players) did a good job defensively. Even on the offensive boards, we did well.”

“Before the game we knew their size was going to disturb us,” said Turner. “We just kept running the plays. It wasn’t as much of a struggle as it should’ve been.”

IMG_7829With the win, Lebanon Catholic, the top-seed in the District Three Class A tournament, improved to 22-6 overall. Second-seeded Linden Hall slipped to 18-5 on the year.

Hill tallied a game-high 15 points, while Turner struck for ten. Despite its nine-for-22 showing at the foul stripe, Lebanon Catholic outscored the Lions by seven points there.

The Beavers also enjoyed a 15-6 scoring advantage from beyond the arc.

“Neesha’s the leader,” said Hower of Pierre. “She doesn’t mind telling people when they’re not in the right spots. Defensively, Neesha always plays well. She’s our backbone.”

“This season definitely seems like last season,” said Turner. “We were doing our best to get here. It’s even more exciting with all the work we had to do.”

IMG_7786A late opening-quarter 7-0 spurt staked Lebanon Catholic to a 15-11 lead. A Bossert triple came on the heels of a pair of Hill inside moves.

But before the quarter was out, Linden Hall had tied the score.

“The shots we normally get off, we couldn’t get off,” said Hower of the Lions’ height and length. “It altered all the shots in there. They’re (the Lions) good shot blockers. But they (the Lions) can’t take that (Catholic three-pointers) away. Taylor hits some threes. Jasmine hit some threes. That’s what makes us a team.

“We made good decisions,” added Hower. “I was really, really proud of the effort.”

Lebanon Catholic held the Lions score-less for the first portion of the second quarter, and Turner drained back-to-back three-pointers to give the Beavers a 21-15 advantage. The Beavers led 23-19 at the break.

As the District Three champions, Lebanon Catholic will open play in the PIAA Class A playoffs on Saturday, March 10th, against the fourth-place finisher out of District Four. Lebanon Catholic is the reigning Class A state champion.

Lebanon Catholic won its first district championship in 1980.

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2017-18 Lebanon Catholic Girls’ Basketball Results

Date Opponents Results
12/11
7:30 pm
Mahanoy Area
at Lebanon Catholic
61
51
12/13
7:30 pm
Lebanon Catholic
at Trinity
66
69
12/15
7:00 pm
Lebanon Catholic
at Pequea Valley
71
53
12/16
6:00 pm
Lebanon Catholic
at Christian School of York
62
41
12/18
6:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Lebanon Catholic
57
52
12/20
7:30 pm
Elco
at Lebanon Catholic
53
66
12/22
6:00 pm
High Point Baptist
at Lebanon Catholic
16
77
12/27
6:30 pm
Marian Catholic
at Lebanon Catholic
37
57
12/29
7:30 pm
Mount Calvary
Lebanon Catholic
at Lebanon Catholic Tournament
26
76
12/30
7:30 pm
Linden Hall
Lebanon Catholic
at Lebanon Catholic Tournament
24
56
1/02
7:30 pm
Lancaster Mennonite
at Lebanon Catholic
55
81
1/05
7:30 pm
Columbia
at Lebanon Catholic
43
73
1/09
7:30 pm
Lebanon Catholic
at Lancaster Catholic
35
53
1/11
6:00 pm
Veritas Academy
at Lebanon Catholic
26
76
1/12
6:00 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Lebanon Catholic
21
53
1/18
6:00 pm
Pequea Valley
at Lebanon Catholic
62
82
1/19
8:00 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Lebanon Catholic
35
43
1/23
7:30 pm
Lebanon Catholic
at Elco
49
38
1/26
7:30 pm
Lebanon Catholic
at Lancaster Mennonite
67
40
1/30
7:30 pm
Lebanon Catholic
at Columbia
66
37
2/02
7:30 pm
Lancaster Catholic
at Lebanon Catholic
65
52
2/06
7:30 pm
Lebanon Catholic
at Annville-Cleona
68
30
2/10
6:00 pm
Lebanon Catholic
at Manheim Township
61
59
2/13
6:00 pm
Lampeter-Strasburg
Lebanon Catholic
at Warwick
29
38
2/15
7:00 pm
Lancaster Catholic
Lebanon Catholic
at Manheim Township
59
49
2/23
7:00 pm
Greenwood
at Lebanon Catholic
20
58
2/27
6:30 pm
Christian School of York
Lebanon Catholic
at Manheim Township
23
68
3/01
4:00 pm
Linden Hall
Lebanon Catholic
at Giant Center
36
46
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Lebanon Catholic Girls’ Basketball: A History of Champions
PIAA Class A Championships

2017-18

1994-95

1991-92
District Three Class A Championships
2017-18
2016-17
2015-16
2014-15
2011-12
2008-09
2007-08
IMG_76762006-07
2003-04
2002-03
2001-02
2000-01
1999-2000
1998-99
1995-96
1994-95
1993-94
1992-93
1991-92
1988-89
1979-80
Lancaster-Lebanon League Championships
1980-81
Lancaster-Lebanon League Section Championships
1994-95
IMG_77521993-94
1992-93
1991-92
1984-85
1981-82
1980-81
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LEBANON COUNTY DISTRICT THREE BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS

BOYS

Annville-Cleona: None.
Cedar Crest: None.
Elco: None.
Lebanon: 1936 (single class), 1940 (A*).
Lebanon Catholic: (All A) 2000, 2005, 2006, 2013
Northern Lebanon: None.
Palmyra: 1949 (B*), 1957 (B*), 1996 (AAA)

GIRLS

Annville-Cleona: None.
Cedar Crest: 1976 (AAA), 1991 (AAAA), 1994 (AAAA), 2003 (AAAA).
IMG_7842Elco: 1997 (AA), 1999 (AAA), 2001 (AAA).
Lebanon: 1980 (AAA).
Lebanon Catholic: (All A) 1980, 1989, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
Northern Lebanon: None.
Palmyra: 2013 (AAA)

IMG_7753
PIAA District Three
 Class A Championship Game
 (at Hershey’s Giant Center)

Lebanon Catholic 46, Linden Hall 36

Linden Hall (36)

Phillips 4 0-0 9, Adaramoye 2 0-2 4, Celebic 1 2-4 4, Thorpe 3 0-0 6, Saatman 4 0-0 8, Miller 1 0-0 3, Brabham 1 0-0 2, Mbeledegu 0 0-0 0, Ademusayo 0 0-0 0. Totals: 16 2-6 36.

Lebanon Catholic (46)

Hill 6 3-7 15, Turner 3 1-2 10, Pierre 3 3-5 9, Shellehamer 0 0-0 0, Mars 2 2-4 6, Bossert 2 0-2 6. Totals: 16 9-18 45.

Linden Hall 15 4 12 5 – 36

Lebanon Catholic 15 8 7 16 – 46

Three-pointers – LH – Phillips, Miller, LC – Turner 3, Bossert 2.

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