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BY JEFF FALK

FREDERICKSBURG – Before the start of the season, everybody believed the Northern Lebanon girls’ basketball team had what it took to reach the District Three postseason. It’s something that everybody still believes.

The Vikings control their own destiny and have everything in front of them. But the campaign has become increasingly more difficult.

On Saturday afternoon at Northern Lebanon Middle School, the Vikings endured a debilitating 36-35 non-league loss to Susquenita, in heart-breaking fashion. After falling behind at the beginning, a handful of Northern Lebanon rallies fell short, including a last one in the final ten frantic seconds.

Viking junior Ashlyn Messinger’s driving lay-up attempt with one second left was blocked. Prior to Messinger’s attempt at a dramatic victory, there was some confusion about a time-out, whether or not Northern Lebanon had any remaining and if Susquenita’s head coach had called one.

There was no whistle, the Vikings were unable to reset their offense and Messinger’s final shot originated out of a scramble situation.

“She (Messinger) had a good drive to the basket, but (Susquenita’s number) 25 is big and athletic, and she swatted it away,” said Northern Lebanon head coach Ken Battistelli. “We stole the ball with about 30 seconds remaining, and I let some of the chaos happen. But I knew we needed to reset. That’s (ten seconds) plenty of time to set up a good offensive possession

“I spent most of those final seconds trying to call a timeout,” continued Battistelli. “Apparently the other coach wanted a timeout, but I wanted a timeout. I wasted several seconds. My kid’s dribbling at half court, and I’m arguing with the official that I want a timeout. It was a bad, bad way to end a game. If I get a timeout, we have at least ten seconds left on the clock.”

The setback dropped Northern Lebanon to 4-5 overall. With about half of their season still remaining, the Vikings were situated 13th in the latest AAAA power rankings that produces ten teams for its District Three playoffs.

As a program, Northern Lebanon has qualified for the District Three postseason in each of the last seven years.

With the triumph, Susquenita improved to 9-1 on the year.

“This one’s devastating, only because I thought it was a win-able game,” said Battistelli. “We weren’t us most of the game. I’m thinking about that (the district playoffs).

“I’m thinking this was a devastating loss,” added Battistelli. “We have a tradition and reputation to uphold. We have a standard. We’re not supposed to fail.”

Messinger’s last-ditch try was the culmination of a furious rally from a 36-27 deficit that she orchestrated. Over the final 2:17, the Vikings outscored Susquenita 8-0, and Messinger tallied six of those points.

“I won’t know where their (his players’) heads are until Monday, when I see them,” said Battistelli. “I don’t know where we are right now. This game has got to do a lot to our psyche.”

After Susquenita had stretched its four-point halftime lead to 26-16 late in the third quarter, the Vikings tallied the last two buckets of that stanza, and the opening basket of the fourth, to pull within 26-22 of the lead. Messinger accounted for two of those buckets and Emily Hauck had the other.

“We didn’t have anybody who felt good offensively,” said Battistelli. “We couldn’t score. We didn’t have five players playing offense most of the game. Then late, Ash really stepped up and started taking the ball to the basket. That’s why we had a chance at the end of the game.”

Messinger popped for a total of 12 points, Hauck contributed 11 points and Rachel Papson collected ten. Susquenita outscored Northern Lebanon 12-6 from beyond the arc.

“Hauck is fantastic,” said Battistelli. “She’s got a motor and competitiveness that could fit on any team, anywhere. She’s really developed into a super point guard. She’s our engine. She brings it, day in and day out. She never needs a reminder on bringing the energy or the commitment to the little things that are so important to us. She wants to win so badly.”

Susquenita scored the first nine points of the contest and never trailed.

But Northern Lebanon did hold the Hawks without a score of any kind for a 5:45 stretch spanning the first and second quarters, and the Vikings pulled to within 11-7 on a drive by Hauck. Then, Papson drilled two jumpers and Hauck converted a pair of foul shots, as the Vikings registered the final six points of the first half to draw within 17-13 of the lead.

“I thought this was our most disappointing effort of the season so far,” said Battistelli. “We were never in the right mindset to play a competitive basketball game. We were not our typical selves. It was mental. We were not focused and ready to go.

“I just noticed we were flat at the beginning,” Battistelli added. “There was no bounce, and it was on both ends of the floor. We picked up our defensive intensity, and that was good. But it’s hard to pick up that ‘Eye of the Tiger’ offensively, if you’re not there from the beginning.”

To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com.

2021 Northern Lebanon Girls’ Basketball Results

DateOpponentsOutcomes
1/09
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at East Pennsboro
37
29

Nonleague
1/13
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Lancaster Catholic
33
56

League
1/19
7:30 pm
Elco
at Northern Lebanon
39
26

League
1/20
7:30 pm
Tulpehocken
at Northern Lebanon
16
42

Nonleague
1/23
4:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Donegal
44
24

League
1/25
5:30 pm
Lancaster Catholic
at Northern Lebanon
35
30

League
1/29
7:30 pm
Hamburg
at Northern Lebanon
26
38

Nonleague
2/03
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Elco
36
51

League

PIAA District Three

Class AAAA Power Rankings

AAAASchool W L T Rating TWP OWP TWPW OWPW TWPL OWPL
1Delone Catholic10-0-0 0.806214 1.000000 0.569365 10.20 84.75 0.00 64.10
2Big Spring5-0-0 0.779660 1.000000 0.510356 5.35 61.60 0.00 59.10
3Eastern York7-1-0 0.741324 0.900000 0.547386 7.65 83.75 0.85 69.25
4Berks Catholic12-2-0 0.732067 0.891720 0.536936 14.00 98.85 1.70 85.25
5Bermudian Springs8-1-0 0.730971 0.895028 0.530458 8.10 80.55 0.95 71.30
6Wyomissing6-1-0 0.693930 0.853147 0.499332 6.10 74.80 1.05 75.00
7Lancaster Catholic6-2-0 0.686137 0.772152 0.581008 6.10 69.75 1.80 50.30
8Bishop McDevitt (3)6-2-0 0.669574 0.761905 0.556725 6.40 57.66 2.00 45.91
9Eastern Lebanon County7-4-0 0.616145 0.662338 0.559688 7.65 89.55 3.90 70.45
10Hanover (3)5-4-0 0.536911 0.569061 0.497616 5.15 73.05 3.90 73.75
11Susquehanna Township3-3-0 0.517025 0.544643 0.483269 3.05 54.16 2.55 57.91
12Conrad Weiser4-6-0 0.516049 0.474227 0.567164 4.60 123.50 5.10 94.25
13Northern Lebanon4-4-0 0.505689 0.525000 0.482086 4.20 67.95 3.80 73.00
14Schuylkill Valley5-4-0 0.503980 0.580110 0.410932 5.25 74.05 3.80 106.15
15James Buchanan2-4-0 0.480733 0.389831 0.591837 2.30 68.15 3.60 47.00
16Hamburg4-7-0 0.416235 0.357488 0.488037 3.70 89.75 6.65 94.15
17Kennard Dale2-7-0 0.377765 0.229299 0.559223 1.80 90.65 6.05 71.45
18Littlestown1-8-0 0.334049 0.136612 0.575361 1.25 83.60 7.90 61.70
19Boiling Springs0-5-0 0.280136 0.000000 0.622525 0.00 70.75 4.25 42.90
20East Pennsboro0-6-0 0.266999 0.000000 0.593332 0.00 66.91 6.00 45.86
21Middletown0-3-0 0.264890 0.000000 0.588645 0.00 54.95 3.05 38.40
22Octorara0-8-0 0.203037 0.000000 0.451193 0.00 52.00 8.60 63.25

Lancaster-Lebanon League

Section Four Standings

LeagueOverall
WLPCTWLPCTPFPA
Lancaster Catholic401.000620.750364289
Elco310.750740.636491425
Northern Lebanon140.200450.444322312
Donegal030.000060.000151327

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