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IMG_7082BY JEFF FALK

FREDERICKSBURG – If there’s one constant from season to season it’s that hope springs eternal. But let’s face it, that optimism isn’t always grounded in reality.

The Northern Lebanon boys’ basketball team’s hopes this season figured to be more realistic than in past seasons. Now it seems that those Viking aspirations may have been tempered a bit.

Northern Lebanon will be good this year. But the Vikings are always better with Michigan Daub.

The Vikings will open the 2017-18 campaign in a cloud of uncertainty due to a lingering back injury that has placed their best player on the shelf. The hope is that Daub, an athletic senior forward, will return in time for Northern Lebanon to realize its full potential.

“He’s our best athlete,” said Northern Lebanon head coach Chris George of Daub. “But the enthusiasm is still there. They (his players) think he can come back. If it takes the first half of the season for him to come back, they want to grind that out. It’s a real opportunity for some guys to step up. Maybe we’ll learn some things.

IMG_7040“Our first five or six guys have really got to step up for us to achieve the goals we really wanted,” continued George. “Right now, we’re just hoping our guys get back. Michigan is still working hard. He’s conditioning. He’s lifting. He’s shooting. He’s doing everything he can to come back.”

The Vikings’ initial, early hope was centered around the fact that they were returning ten seniors among their top 13 players. It’s hard to teach experience, and besides there doesn’t seem to be a clear-cut favorite in Section Three of the Lancaster-Lebanon League this season.

“The thing with basketball is that there’s so many hard things to coach,” said George. “You can drive yourself crazy trying to patch every hole. We try to integrate two or three key things in everything we do. For us, rebounding is a big part of the game. We’re talented. We have some guys who can score. But can we defend? We’ve got to be better on the defensive end. For us, a big goal is making each other better and being good as a team. We want to get these guys to understand that one plus one can equal three.

IMG_7078“Our guys are excited,” George continued. “One of the things we’re proud of is the enthusiasm and excitement. They want to make it happen. The question is: How hard are they willing to work  in practice?”

Although maybe not as high, Northern Lebanon had similar expectations last year. But with an 8-14 overall finish, those expectations went unfulfilled.

“For us, it was missed opportunities,” said George. “We ended up being points away from districts. We lost some games early in the season to teams who weren’t very good. We weren’t ready to go. It took us a couple of games to get going. We can’t put ourselves in that spot again.

“The biggest thing is being ready from the tip,” added George. “As we’ve gotten a little older, I think we’re more ready to go. Last year, I think we were hanging our hat on ‘Let’s see how this goes’. If we don’t exemplify the traits of what it’s supposed to mean to be a senior, I’ll be disappointed.”

In order to compensate for the loss of Daub, Northern Lebanon might have to work from the outside in.

Viking senior guards Caleb Light and Alex Yeager both have the potential to be very good. Now throw in 5-11 senior guard Henry Hubbard, 5-9 senior guard Thomas Folmer and 6-3 senior center Cameron Gensler, and all of sudden Northern Lebanon is balanced and versatile.

“I’m trying not to be negative,” said George. “There’s a chance we might not have him (Daub) for the season. I’m not sure who’s going to step up for us. I’m hoping Caleb and Alex will be leaders.

IMG_7143“We have our starting five back and we tied for fourth in the section,” continued George. “If healthy, I think we can compete for the section title. We can push into districts and be competitive in the district playoffs. These kids want to be in the league playoffs.”.

Waiting in the wings for Northern Lebanon are reserves Josh Bowers, a 6-0 junior forward, 6-0 junior forward Eyan Margut, 5-11 senior forward Zach Donmoyer, 6-0 senior forward Christian Trader, 6-3 senior center Spencer Mullins and 6-0 sophomore forward Ethatn Borcky.

“We would’ve liked to have last year be a stepping stone,” said George. “But we can still take lessons from last year and be ready to go. We think the section is wide open. There’s a ripe opportunity for us. But we’ve got to be ready to seize it.

“We are going to be deep, assuming people are healthy,” George continued. “We’re solid defensively, but we need to become an excellent defensive team. We have ten seniors who’ve been doing this stuff for three years. Average is not OK. Good is not OK. The second piece is playing together. We have good players, but we don’t have Division One players to roll out. Team work, chemistry, talking are all going to be key for us.”

IMG_7054The Vikings’ quest will commence on Friday, December 8th at the Donegal Tip-Off Tournament, opposite Palmyra.

“His game is being an athlete,” said George of Daub. “He was essentially our point-center last year. But he’s an unselfish kid. He was also probably our best defensive player.

“He’s a competitor,” continued George. “He makes practice fun. Sometimes he can be an extra coach. Sports-wise, he’s one of the smarter athletes I’ve coached.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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To purchase images 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 OPPONENT TIME LOCATION
12/08
Palmyra
6:00 PM Northern Lebanon High School
12/09
@Middletown
7:30 PM Middletown High School
12/13
Conrad Weiser
7:30 PM Lebanon Valley College
12/15 *
Annville-Cleona
7:30 PM Northern Lebanon High School
12/18 *
Lebanon Catholic
8:00 PM Northern Lebanon High School
12/20 *
Columbia
7:30 PM Northern Lebanon High School
12/22 *
@Pequea Valley
7:30 PM Pequea Valley High School
01/05 *
@Lancaster Catholic
7:30 PM Lancaster Catholic High School
01/09 *
Lancaster Mennonite
7:30 PM Northern Lebanon High School
01/12 *
Elco
7:30 PM Northern Lebanon High School
01/16 *
@Annville-Cleona
7:30 PM Annville-Cleona High School
01/19 *
@Lebanon Catholic
6:30 PM Lebanon Catholic School
01/20
@Tulpehocken
2:30 PM Tulpehocken High School
01/23 *
@Columbia
7:30 PM Columbia High School
01/25
Manheim Central
7:30 PM Northern Lebanon High School
01/26 *
Pequea Valley
7:30 PM Northern Lebanon High School
01/30 *
Lancaster Catholic
7:30 PM Northern Lebanon High School
02/02 *
@Lancaster Mennonite
7:30 PM Lancaster Mennonite High School
02/06 *
@Elco
7:30 PM Elco High School

 

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