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IMG_7875BY JEFF FALK

FREDERICKSBURG – Way back in the deep dark recesses of the Vikings’ collective conscious, there lurks an unspeakable fear. They are deathly afraid of being remembered as the best Northern Lebanon boys’ basketball team never to have won anything.

On Friday night, in front of a jam packed house, Northern Lebanon moved a full ten games over .500 with a 70-60 triumph over Elco. Behind 29 points from junior guard Isaac Ray, the Vikings ran out to a big first-half lead and then weathered a number of Raider comeback attempts in the second half.

The outcome, combined with Lampeter-Strasburg’s 44-34 loss at Manheim Central, tied the Vikings with the Pioneers for second-place, and the final league playoff spot, in Section Three of the Lancaster-Lebanon League. When Northern Lebanon pays a visit to Lampeter-Strasburg in Wednesday’s regular-season finale, that particular postseason berth could be on the line.

IMG_7815But it would seem that for Northern Lebanon, now 15-5 overall and 9-5 in Section Three, to consider 2013-14 a success, it would have to win some sort of championship, or at the very least, win a playoff game along the way. The Vikings were situated 14th in the latest District Three Class AAA power rankings.

Elco’s third loss of the season to Northern Lebanon left it 6-14 on the year and 3-11 in Section Three.

“I’m happy, but I’m not,” said Northern Lebanon head coach Gary Bouchette. “And I don’t think the kids are happy either. I’d say for us to be able to call the season a success we’d have to get to the Giant Center. Yeah, it would take some doing. Are we capable? Who knows?’

“Our kids didn’t quit,” said Elco head coach Brad Conners, of his club’s ninth straight overall loss to the Vikings. “And they’ve been doing that. They play hard. Down at (Lancaster) Mennonite we kind of caught fire like that. But we didn’t give up when it seemed like things were getting out of hand.”

After the Vikings had led by as many as 24 points in the first half, the Raiders made two separate runs at them in the second half.

IMG_7932The first was a torrid Brayden Smith-led spurt right after the intermission, a 17-3 run to be exact, that pulled the Raiders to within 46-42 with 3:14 of the third quarter remaining. It was a trey from Ray that effectively short-circuited that outburst.

Then in the fourth quarter, a stick-back from Colton Lawrence made it a two-possession game at 65-60 with 50 seconds to go. But the Vikings netted the contest’s final  five points on free throws from Ray, Sammy Light and Christian Morales.

“I’ve got to give credit to Elco for hanging around,” said Bouchette. “In the first half, we played one of the best sections we’ve played. We came out and distributed the ball. In the second half, they (the Raiders) made some shots. But to our credit, we kept playing, and hit some shots of our own.

“Isaac (Ray) has his big games,” Bouchette added. “There’s other nights when things aren’t going as well for him, but he finds ways t0 contribute.”

“We got it to four there, and then got stuck on four,” said Conners. “When we were riding the wave, we started celebrating too soon. It’s good to be excited, but we need to keep our foot on the gas pedal. It’s no surprise that when we make a few shots we’re going to feel good about ourselves. But we expended a lot of energy coming back.

IMG_7924“What we talked about was making a concerted effort to beat them on the boards,” continued Conners. “But yeah, they (Morales and Daymon Long) got some rebounds. Our game plan was to not let Isaac (Ray) and Richard (Iwuagwu) beat us. If Light is going to take 30 shots, he can take 30 shots.”

Ray got his 29 on six three-point field goals, while Iwuagwu pumped in 14 points. Light, who didn’t start because of missing practice on Wednesday and Thursday with illness, canned 16 points to move within 18 of Travis Ludwig’s school record of 1,567 career points.

On the Elco side, Lawrence struck for a team-high 15 points, while Smith popped for 11. Caleb Buchmoyer tallied 10 Raider points, as did freshman guard Mason Bossert.

Northern Lebanon outscored Elco 30-27 from beyond the arc.

IMG_7942“He wasn’t himself out there. You could see it,” said Bouchette of Light. “I’m not concerned about it (the scoring record). If it happens, it happens. If he’s going to do it, he’s going to do it. I’m not going to feed him the ball.

“They’re (the Raiders) a tough group,” Bouchette continued. “They battle. I don’t know what to say about that group (Elco). They come to play against us. I’m surprised their record isn’t better than it is.”

“Light’s a heck of a player,” said Conners. “We didn’t want him to get it (the scoring record) against us. Yeah, it did mean something. This is Elco and Northern Lebanon.

“They (the Vikings) had a couple of screens for him (Ray) early in the game,” Conners continued. “But our close-outs (defensively) weren’t good. Our close-outs came with our heads down. There’s certain things we do from a fundamental standpoint that cost us.”

IMG_7889With Light on the bench, the Vikings hit the Raiders with an early 16-2 run to turn a tie game into a 22-8 lead. Ray had half of his treys during the first period, while Iwuagwu tallied seven points.

But it was during the second period when Northern Lebanon really extended itself. The Vikings held Elco scoreless for a four-minute stretch in the middle of it and pushed their advantage to 37-15.

Ray collected eight points during Northern Lebanon’s 15-0 burst, while Kyle Blackman scored four off the bench and Light nailed a three-pointer.

IMG_7799“You could very easily slip, but I can’t say we have,” said Bouchette of his club’s propensity for taking care of its business. “The kids just need to keep playing for me. Has it been a successful season? There was a play when Richard (Iwuagwu) dove and got a ball, and then Sunshine (Daymon Long) dove and got a ball. That to me is success. That to me is a perfect play.

“I couldn’t tell you when we made the league playoffs last,” Bouchette added. “I guess it was against Ephrata when I played (in 1993).”

IMG_7782“We have stretches where we lose our focus,” said Conners. “But I saw some encouraging things. I think we’ll get better. We have some basketball players.

“It was a nice atmosphere here tonight,” continued Conners. “I wish them (the Vikings) the best. Good luck to Northern Lebanon.”


Lancaster-Lebanon League

 Section Three Standings

 

Manheim Central 13 – 1 – 0 18 – 2 – 0
Northern Lebanon 9 – 5 – 0 15 – 5 – 0
Lampeter-Strasburg 9 – 5 – 0 13 – 7 – 0
Garden Spot 4 – 10 – 0 5 – 14 – 0
Elco 3 – 11 – 0 6 – 14 – 0
Donegal 3 – 11 – 0 3 – 16 – 0

District Three 

 Class AAA Power Rankings

(Top 18 qualify for playoffs)
IMG_7899RANK SCHOOL NAME POWER RATING
1 Bishop McDevitt (17-1) 0.810518 0.957547 (20.3-0.9) 0.630815 (256.3-150)
2 West York Area (20-1) 0.771362 0.969163 (22-0.7) 0.529605 (193.2-171.6)
3 Boiling Springs (17-2) 0.759408 0.932367 (19.3-1.4) 0.548012 (212.3-175.1)
4 Berks Catholic (16-3) 0.746823 0.914894 (17.2-1.6) 0.541403 (196.8-166.7)
5 Susquehanna Township (12-5) 0.742249 0.790960 (14-3.7) 0.682713 (280.8-130.5)
6 Bermudian Springs (18-1) 0.733826 0.954774 (19-0.9) 0.463779 (183.1-211.7)
7 Manheim Central (17-2) 0.718941 0.906103 (19.3-2) 0.490186 (192.3-200)
8 Lancaster Mennonite (14-4) 0.712506 0.874214 (13.9-2) 0.514864 (168-158.3)
9 Steelton Highspire (16-4) 0.693583 0.811321 (17.2-4) 0.549682 (224.6-184)
10 Conrad Weiser (13-5) 0.681869 0.788043 (14.5-3.9) 0.552100 (213-172.8)
11 Lancaster Catholic (13-5) 0.674590 0.755435 (13.9-4.5) 0.575780 (230.6-169.9)
12 Gettysburg Area (14-7) 0.653734 0.724299 (15.5-5.9) 0.567488 (211.9-161.5)
IMG_780013 Milton Hershey (13-6) 0.649464 0.740933 (14.3-5) 0.537668 (224.1-192.7)
14 Northern Lebanon (14-5) 0.643776 0.774869 (14.8-4.3) 0.483550 (189.6-202.5)
15 York Suburban (14-6) 0.641649 0.742268 (14.4-5) 0.518670 (215.3-199.8)
16 Eastern York (12-8) 0.620875 0.633663 (12.8-7.4) 0.605245 (258.5-168.6)
17 Northeastern (10-9) 0.612838 0.620321 (11.6-7.1) 0.603692 (251.8-165.3)
18 Wyomissing Area (13-6) 0.607272 0.725714 (12.7-4.8) 0.462509 (183.2-212.9)
19 East Pennsboro (11-7) 0.594361 0.664835 (12.1-6.1) 0.508226 (200.8-194.3)
20 Dover Area (8-11) 0.578911 0.524064 (9.8-8.9) 0.645947 (273.3-149.8)
21 Fleetwood Area (10-7) 0.561974 0.642384 (9.7-5.4) 0.463695 (157.1-181.7)
22 Twin Valley (10-9) 0.542687 0.598870 (10.6-7.1) 0.474019 (171.5-190.3)
23 Middletown Area (8-10) 0.527597 0.505618 (9-8.8) 0.554460 (230.6-185.3)
24 Greencastle Antrim (6-12) 0.474644 0.371622 (5.5-9.3) 0.600561 (214.1-142.4)
25 Eastern Lebanon County(ELCO) (6-13) 0.464407 0.364641 (6.6-11.5) 0.586344 (235.3-166)
26 Palmyra Area (5-15) 0.449951 0.323864 (5.7-11.9) 0.604058 (244.1-160)
27 Big Spring (6-14) 0.441672 0.337079 (6-11.8) 0.569509 (233.1-176.2)
28 Susquehannock (6-14) 0.413609 0.329787 (6.2-12.6) 0.516059 (213.7-200.4)
29 Pequea Valley (4-15) 0.389680 0.234637 (4.2-13.7) 0.579177 (225.3-163.7)
IMG_779730 James Buchanan (5-15) 0.376359 0.260355 (4.4-12.5) 0.518141 (198.5-184.6)
31 Donegal (3-15) 0.371943 0.213415 (3.5-12.9) 0.565699 (214.4-164.6)
32 Hamburg Area (3-16) 0.341035 0.144509 (2.5-14.8) 0.581234 (226.1-162.9)
33 Schuylkill Valley (2-18) 0.325468 0.112360 (2-15.8) 0.585934 (229.1-161.9)
34 West Perry (3-17) 0.313375 0.145161 (2.7-15.9) 0.518969 (213.4-197.8)
35 Littlestown (2-18) 0.311172 0.111111 (2.2-17.6) 0.555690 (229-183.1)
36 Oley Valley (3-15) 0.294659 0.151685 (2.7-15.1) 0.469405 (170.3-192.5)
37 Kennard Dale (0-19) 0.280579 0.000000 (0-16.1) 0.623509 (256.2-154.7)

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