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BY JEFF FALK

QUARRYVILLE – When you wear your emotions on your sleeve, you open yourself up to let downs. When your game is based on intensity, you’re bound to experience lapses of focus.

Actually, it’s probably amazing that the Northern Lebanon girls’ basketball team hasn’t endured more performances like this one.

On Saturday night at Solanco High School, the Vikings blinked and the hometown Mules cashed in for a 41-32 victory, in the quarterfinals of the Lancaster-Lebanon League playoffs. Northern Lebanon fell behind early, and never truly recovered.

For Northern Lebanon, the runner-up from Section Four, it was its first defeat of the season to a team other than Lancaster Catholic. It dropped it to 20-3 overall.

Up next for the Vikings is a date with the winner between Bishop McDevitt and Schuylkill Valley, on Friday, February 21st at 7 p.m. at home, in the quarterfinal round of the District Three Class AAAA postseason. Northern Lebanon is the number-two seed, and is guaranteed at least two games in that tournament.

Solanco, the champions of Section Three, moved to 14-9 on the year and into Tuesday’s semifinal round of the L-L League playoffs, opposite Pequea Valley. Back on December 20th in Fredericksburg, Northern Lebanon had defeated Solanco 35-19.

“We just didn’t play, at any stage of the game,” said Northern Lebanon head coach Ken Battistelli. “At no point were we mentally prepared to do what we needed to do. It was a bad, bad, bad performance. That’s the first time that’s happened this year.

“When you’re not doing the right things, you’re working ten times harder,” added Battistelli. “Tonight we didn’t do anything really right.”

Despite their struggles, the Vikings still had their chances in the final quarter.

Down double digits, Northern Lebanon got a couple of free throws and a three-pointer from leader Zara Zerman to close to within 31-26 of the lead, with half of the period remaining. Forty seconds later, Viking Tabitha Hubbard scored on a driving lay-up to make it a 33-28 game.

But Solanco’s Jenna Dombach drilled six straight foul shots over the contest’s final 1:26 to extinguish the Viking rally.

“The girls feel bad, but so do I,” said Battistelli. “There were no roses in the locker room. I feel like we let something that could’ve been special slip away. I think they (his players) can learn from it. Right around the corner, we have a chance to make something else special happen.

“They play as hard as they can,” continued Battiselli. “They always will. We’ll never question the effort. But you could see it from the get-go. And it’s really hard to change it in the middle of a game.”

The Vikings had trailed 28-16 in the middle of the third stanza. But Hubbard drained a three-pointer and teammate Lindsay McFeaters maneuvered inside for a deuce to pull NL to within 30-21.

“We were bad at everything,” said Battistelli. “We were bad on defense. That’s (defense) why our record is as good as it is. We don’t have that much firepower on offense. Our defense keeps it close. I think we can play good offense, but the defense has to be non-negotiable.

As has become the pattern, Zerman led the Vikings with 19 points, which came on a trio of three-pointers, three deuces and four-for-five free throwing. Solanco converted 17 of its 21 foul shots and outscored Northern Lebanon by nine points at the line.

Dombach, who poured in a game-high 22 points, drained 11 of 12 free throws herself.

“They (the Mules) had confidence,” said Battistelli, when asked about the difference from the first time the two sides met. “Northern Lebanon looked different in December too. You hate to see opportunities slip away. I always think we can win. But you want to go down your way, and that wasn’t us tonight.”

The Vikings went scoreless over the first 5:57 of the contest. By the time Zerman ended the drought, Solanco was sitting on a 9-2 cushion.

“They’ll be good,” said Battistelli of his team’s spirit. “We’re here talking about this team of 16- and 17-year-old girls who are as tough as anyone. We’ll look at it and own every piece of it. This is what we need to learn from. These kids are resilient. It just wasn’t right tonight.”

Northern Lebanon opened the second quarter with two free throws from McFeaters and a three-ball from Zerman to pull within 11-7 of the Mules. But Solanco returned the favor, in the form of a 13-4 burst over the next five minutes of action, to extend its lead to 24-11.

“The first time we lost to Lancaster Catholic, in overtime, we had to play East Pennsboro in the middle school gym the next afternoon, and we played fantastic,” said Battistelli. “I didn’t notice anything bad after the losses. It just isn’t a thing.”

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

2019-20 Northern Lebanon Girls’ Basketball Results

DateOpponentsOutcomes
12/06
6:45 pm
Ephrata
Northern Lebanon
at Northern Lebanon Tip-Off Tournament
43
48

Nonleague
12/07
7:00 pm
Palmyra
Northern Lebanon
at Northern Lebanon Tip-Off Tournament
29
41

Nonleague
12/10
7:30 pm
West Perry
at Northern Lebanon
19
35

Nonleague
12/13
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Lampeter-Strasburg
38
26

League
12/16
7:30 pm
Cocalico
at Northern Lebanon
31
37

League
12/18
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Garden Spot
48
17

League
12/20
7:30 pm
Solanco
at Northern Lebanon
19
35

League
12/27
6:00 pm
New Oxford
Northern Lebanon
at Lebanon Holiday Tournament
27
45

Nonleague
12/28
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
McCaskey
at Lebanon Holiday Tournament
44
41

Nonleague
1/03
7:30 pm
Lancaster Catholic
at Northern Lebanon
50
47

League
1/04
2:30 pm
East Pennsboro
Northern Lebanon
at Northern Lebanon Middle School
22
44

Nonleague
1/08
6:30 pm
Middletown
at Northern Lebanon
15
38

Nonleague
1/10
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Elco
53
45

League
1/14
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Octorara
54
17

League
1/17
7:30 pm
Donegal
at Northern Lebanon
39
65

League
1/18
2:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Tulpehocken
Postponed
Nonleague
1/21
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Lancaster Catholic
35
42

League
1/23
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Manheim Central
47
35

League
1/25
4:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Annville-Cleona
47
12

Nonleague
1/28
7:30 pm
Elco
at Northern Lebanon
35
37

League
1/31
7:30 pm
Octorara
at Northern Lebanon
30
59
Boxscore
League
2/04
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Donegal
60
46

League
2/06
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
Warwick
at Garden Spot
43
32

Playoff
2/08
7:00 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Solanco

Playoff
2/21
7:00 pm
TBD
at Northern Lebanon

Playoff

PIAA District Three

Class AAAA Power Rankings

AAAASchool W L T Rating TWP OWP TWPW OWPW TWPL OWPL
1***Lancaster Catholic19-3-0 0.770319 0.878099 0.638588 21.3 306.7 3.0 173.6
2***Northern Lebanon19-2-0 0.717449 0.917927 0.472421 21.3 214.6 1.9 239.6
3***Eastern York16-6-0 0.693089 0.779736 0.587188 17.7 283.7 5.0 199.5
4***Susquehanna Township17-5-0 0.693070 0.814894 0.544175 19.2 257.2 4.4 215.4
5***Bermudian Springs18-4-0 0.690098 0.820276 0.530991 17.8 256.2 3.9 226.3
6***Wyomissing17-5-0 0.641412 0.799539 0.448146 17.4 202.5 4.4 249.3
7***Bishop McDevitt10-9-0 0.605177 0.588859 0.625120 11.1 261.3 7.8 156.7
8***Fleetwood13-8-0 0.601035 0.676960 0.508239 14.3 225.2 6.8 217.9
9***Kennard Dale12-10-0 0.597722 0.604545 0.589382 13.3 284.2 8.7 198.0
10***Schuylkill Valley14-8-0 0.563872 0.671171 0.432728 14.9 195.6 7.3 256.4
11Eastern Lebanon County11-11-0 0.554537 0.550228 0.559803 12.1 266.6 9.9 209.6
12Big Spring9-11-0 0.509030 0.505076 0.513862 10.0 221.5 9.8 209.6
13Littlestown11-11-0 0.502754 0.497685 0.508949 10.8 244.6 10.9 236.0
14Boiling Springs11-11-0 0.498550 0.536866 0.451720 11.7 211.5 10.1 256.7
15James Buchanan9-13-0 0.466487 0.438389 0.500829 9.3 226.5 11.9 225.8
16West Perry7-15-0 0.393886 0.325000 0.478081 7.2 225.2 14.9 245.9
17Oley Valley8-14-0 0.386301 0.344186 0.437774 7.4 199.8 14.1 256.6
18Middletown Area5-16-0 0.382454 0.253071 0.540588 5.2 247.4 15.2 210.3
19Hamburg Area6-16-0 0.372214 0.295238 0.466295 6.2 217.6 14.8 249.0
20Octorara Area2-17-0 0.324956 0.123324 0.571394 2.3 235.9 16.4 177.0

Lancaster-Lebanon League

Final Section Four Standings

LeagueOverall
WLPCTWLPCTPFPA
Lancaster Catholic1301.0001930.8641330977
Northern Lebanon1120.8462020.9091001672
Elco670.46211110.5001013933
Donegal490.3088140.36411091223
Octorara1120.0772190.0955961304

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