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 IMG_9326BY JEFF FALK

FREDERICKSBURG – It’s one thing to talk the talk. It’s totally another to walk the walk.

Not only has the Northern Lebanon boys’ basketball team backed up the preseason rhetoric, it has also unlocked the secret to winning.

On Wednesday night during the opening round of their annual holiday tournament, the Vikings extended their early season success with a 66-55 triumph over Daniel Boone. After shrugging off an uninspired start, Northern Lebanon outscored Daniel Boone 33-12 over the middle two quarters of action.

Now 7-1 and owners of their best start in recent memory, the Vikings will take on Penn Manor, Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the tournament’s championship game. Daniel Boone will meet Schuylkill Valley at 6 p.m. in the consolation contest.

IMG_9294“Not with the injuries, to be very honest,” said Northern Lebanon head coach Chris George, when asked if he saw this start coming. “And Cam Gensler has only played in half of our games. It says a lot about the role kids, the kids who stepped up.

“Caleb (Light) is doing it on both sides of the court,” continued George. “And (Alex) Yeager is ready to go off any second. The role guys have been a pleasant surprise. I thought we had it in us. Once the injuries went down, our expectations changed a little bit.”

“We come into games knowing the other guys are looking at our record, but saying they’re going to beat us,” said Yeager, who poured in a game-high 24 points. “Coming into the season, we had really high hopes. We knew we’d be contenders for the section (Three of the Lancaster-Lebanon League). We just have guys who are playing great, and it’s team basketball.”

With Yeager netting the Vikings’ first 11 points, the home side raced out to an 11-5 lead. But Daniel Boone ran off the final 11 points of the opening period to open a 16-11 margin.

IMG_9354“No disrespect to Boone,” said George. “They’re struggling a little bit. But for us, we have to give the same effort against an up-and-coming team. We challenged them (his players) to do it. Early on, they didn’t quite bring it. We weren’t super sharp.”

“For some reason, we come out slow,” said Yeager. “But we really stepped it up in the second half. And we played well, as a team.

“Every game for us is important,” added Yeager. “We’ve got something going this year. We haven’t had a record like this in a while.”

Northern Lebanon performed much better in the second quarter.

Yeager registered five points, Light recorded four and Gensler completed a three-point play, as the Vikings put together a 12-2 run that gave them a 23-18 edge. And when Gensler completed another three-point play and Christian Trader nailed a jumper two minutes later, Northern Lebanon had itself a 28-21 advantage late in the first half.

“We’ve had a lot of big wins where we were focused, where we didn’t have too many lapses,” said George. “The message was: ‘If you want to compete in the section and you want to compete for districts, you can’t have lapses.’ It doesn’t matter who you play. It shows that when we’re focused, we can defend.”

“I felt we did alright,” said Yeager. “I thought we could’ve done better defensively. We gave up too many points. But we got buckets from a lot of different guys.”

Yeager’s 24 came on four three-pointers, four deuces and four-for-four free throwing. Gensler contributed 14 points to the Northern Lebanon cause and Light collected a dozen.

The Vikings attempted 21 free throws and made 12 of them.

IMG_9399“We had stretches where we shot the ball well,” said George. “We didn’t settle for threes. Alex came out hot and he looked to continue to attack. Early on, we weren’t drawing the fouls. We did a better job in the second half attacking the rim.

“We were on them (his players at halftime) for a lack of focus on defense,” George added. “It wasn’t one guy. They were losing their focus. If you lose focus, the ball tends to find you. You’re going to get exposed when you fall asleep.”

“Caleb and I have been playing basketball for a long time,” said Yeager. “It’s a friendship thing. We’ve been looking for each other since the sixth grade. It’s awesome to be able to play with your best friends and win games.”

The Vikings removed any doubt about the outcome in the third stanza.

Late in the period, Northern Lebanon scored eight unanswered points to extend its lead to 42-26. Yeager, Trader, Henry Hubbard and Thomas Folmer accounted for points in the spurt.

IMG_9389“I don’t put a lot of stock in winning and losing,” said George. “We try to get better every game. If we can do all the things, the score tends to take care of itself. They (Daniel Boone) have some good athletes on that team. We’re guard-heavy. We’ve got play the right way.”

“I think of myself as a leader on this team,” said Yeager. “Everybody has stepped up. They look to me when we need a bucket. We’re playing really good team basketball now, and our record proves it.”

Another inside move from Gensler 36 seconds into the final quarter pushed the Vikings’ lead to 46-30.

“I don’t know,” said George, when asked the last time the Vikings were off to a 7-1 start. “You’ve probably got to go back 25-30 years. Yeah, it’s been a while. But if you look at our schedule, in the second half, we’re going to find out.

“It’s fun. It’s exciting,” added George. “These guys have been saying for years that they’re jealous. Everyone in the community talks about the girls. When you include wrestling, our winter teams are having quite the success. The football team had a great fall and I think sometimes some of that starts to carry over.”

 

 

 

IMG_9310To purchase image in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com, or to view more go to: https://lebanonsportsbuzz.com/photo-gallery/.

 

 

 

 

 

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 2017-18 Northern Lebanon Boys’ Basketball Schedule

Date Teams Result
12/08
6:00 pm
Palmyra
Northern Lebanon
at Donegal
37
49
12/09
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Donegal
52
55
12/13
7:30 pm
Conrad Weiser
at Northern Lebanon
59
67
12/15
7:30 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Northern Lebanon
59
63
12/18
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Lebanon Catholic
80
36
12/20
7:30 pm
Columbia
at Northern Lebanon
48
56
12/22
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Pequea Valley
83
45
12/27
7:30 pm
Daniel Boone
at Northern Lebanon
12/28
TBD
TBA
at Northern Lebanon
1/05
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Lancaster Catholic
1/09
7:30 pm
Lancaster Mennonite
at Northern Lebanon
1/12
7:30 pm
Elco
at Northern Lebanon
1/16
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Annville-Cleona
1/18
7:30 pm
Middletown
at Northern Lebanon
1/19
7:30 pm
Lebanon Catholic
at Northern Lebanon
1/20
2:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Tulpehocken
1/23
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Columbia
1/25
7:30 pm
Manheim Central
at Northern Lebanon
1/26
7:30 pm
Pequea Valley
at Northern Lebanon
1/30
7:30 pm
Lancaster Catholic
at Northern Lebanon
2/02
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Lancaster Mennonite
2/06
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Elco

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 IMG_9413Lancaster-Lebanon League

 Section Four Standings

League Overall
W L PCT W L PCT PF PA
Northern Lebanon 4 0 100.00 7 1 87.50 516 394
Lancaster Catholic 4 0 100.00 6 1 85.71 417 329
Lancaster Mennonite 3 0 100.00 6 2 75.00 467 410
Elco 1 2 33.33 2 4 33.33 330 337
Columbia 1 3 25.00 3 5 37.50 475 459
Pequea Valley 1 3 25.00 2 7 22.22 401 574
Annville-Cleona 0 3 0.00 3 3 50.00 324 300
Lebanon Catholic 0 3 0.00 1 3 25.00 176 271

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