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IMG_0402 BY JEFF FALK

MYERSTOWN – The Northern Lebanon girls’ basketball team has tasted a Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three championship before. But instead of satisfying them, the sensation served to whet the Vikings’ appetite.

And everyone knows how hungry these Vikings can be.

On Tuesday night at Elco High School, Northern Lebanon placed an exclamation point on its second well-earned L-L Section Three title with an emphatic 58-30 road triumph over the hometown Raiders. The Vikings employed a familiar formula to nail down their regular-season finale – improving offensive execution and suffocating man-to-man defense.

The win was Northern Lebanon’s 16th straight, as it improved to 21-1 overall and 13-1 in the section. The Vikings, who have dropped only two regular-season contests over the past two section championship runs, are currently seeded first in the District Three Class AAAA power rankings.

IMG_0334Northern Lebanon will open its postseason journey on Saturday night at home, opposite Hempfield, the third-place finisher out of Section One.

Elco ended its campaign at a somewhat disappointing 8-13 overall and 4-10 in the league. The Vikings had beaten the Raiders 51-22 in Fredericksburg on January 13.

“We’re definitely excited about it,” said Northern Lebanon head coach Ken Battistelli of the pending postseason. “We felt like last year it ended to soon. We’ll be licking our chops. This is our first goal. Tonight we’ll be really, really, really happy. Then we’ll get focused and go on the next quest.

IMG_0358“Our goal is to win every single thing that exists,” Battistelli continued. “If that doesn’t happen we’ll be miserable, and then we’ll regroup and try to win the next thing. At this stage, we’re not looking to play well, we’re not looking to compete. We want to win every single thing that exists. I want these girls to be remembered for a long time.”

“They are, by far, one of the best teams I’ve seen,” said Elco head coach Ashli Shay of the Vikings. “There is no doubt in my mind that they are the best team in the section. They beat Lancaster Catholic twice. They beat Lebanon Catholic once. No one else can say that. Their defense and rebounding is far superior to anyone I’ve seen. All three of those teams compete at a high level every night. I think they’re (the Vikings) kind of on a roll. They’re fun to watch.”

As it normally does, Northern Lebanon came out with a fire in its belly and a focus on its mind.

IMG_0351The Vikings ripped off 13 unanswered points, courtesy of three baskets around the rim from Megan Brandt, a Liz Voight trifecta, a jumper by Cassiah Ray and a lay-in from Zoe Zerman, to assume a 13-2 lead. Taylor Bossert temporarily interrupted the Northern Lebanon outburst with a floater for Elco, but the Vikings ended the stanza with two charity tosses by Voight, a Zoe Zerman jumper and a 17-4 advantage.

“That’s really the plan,” said Battistelli of getting out to an early lead and then turning things over to the defense. “Start hot. We know our defense grinds on you. When we get a lead we’re tough. In the two Lancaster Catholic games, our defense kept us in it. And so did it the second time we played Lebanon Catholic. It’s kind of like, ‘fight, fight, fight and then when the shots go down, that’s the crack we needed.’

“You never know what to expect,” added Battistelli. “Then you look in the eyes of the seniors and know everything’s going to be alright.”

“It was a combination of both,” said Shay of the Vikings playing well and her side not so much. “They (the Vikings) certainly force you not to play well with their defense. It felt like they (her players) knew it (the season) was over and were getting ready to hand in their jerseys. I was hoping they would come out and fight a little harder, and I thought in the second half they did.”

Northern Lebanon put the pedal to the metal during a second period in which it scored a total of 21 points.

IMG_0275First, Voight and Amber Kintzer collaborated on a 7-0 run that gave Northern Lebanon a 24-6 lead. Then, Kintzer, Brandt, Ray and Zara Zerman combined for a 9-2 first-half-concluding burst that gave the Vikings a 38-12 cushion in the locker room.

“I think the offense is really getting better down the stretch,” said Battistelli. “In some of the big games, we’ve been doing our best offensive execution when we needed to. I think that’s improving. One thing that helps is we have very diversified scoring right now. We have two other kids who can hurt you when we need them to. Plus, I think our chemistry is second to none.

“We made tons of mistakes on defense,” continued Battistelli. “We do help each other out on defense. We have a standard we want to attain. But we still have too many turnovers. We still take too many bad shots. As the caliber of teams increases, you can’t have holes.”

“She completely tore a ligament in her ankle,” said Shay of an early-season injury that sidelined sophomore star Ryelle Shuey. “Hopefully she’ll be able to return to athletics in March. We didn’t know it right away. We didn’t know what to expect. You play the hand you’re dealt.

“I thought some of the kids got thrown into the fire,” Shay added. “It gave them a ton of experience, in a positive way. I thought kids like Jordan Rosengrant benefited from all that playing time.”

With a trio of three-pointers, Voight paced the Viking offense with 15 points, while Zoe Zerman notched 14 and Brandt dumped in a dozen. Northern Lebanon, which entered the contest holding opponents to a league-low average of 32 points per game, surrendered just eight total field goals.

IMG_0307“I never would’ve expected that,” said Battistelli of the motivation provided to his troops by their only loss of the season, to Lebanon Catholic. “The expectations were messing with us. I think they were messing with me. I think it helped us get back to the way we needed to play.

“I think that (the competition at the top of the section) makes it neat,” Battistelli continued. “There were some heavyweights at the top of our league. That’s why it’s neat. We’re just a bunch of squirrels from Northern Lebanon who decided to step up. It’s a heck of a bunch of kids. If you lose one more game than we did, you had a very, very good season. If you lose as many games as we lost, you had a special season.”

“I hope to see everyone healthy,” said Shay, looking ahead to next season. “That’s key. We’ve got to come to work everyday. Northern Lebanon is an example of what we should strive to be like. We want to get better everyday.”

Zoe Zerman tallied five points, Voight drained a trey and Brandt connected on a jumper, as Northern Lebanon registered the first 12 points of the second half to extend its lead to 48-12. The Vikings also notched the final eight points of the third stanza – three points from Zara Zerman, a Zoe Zerman jumper, a Voight bucket and a foul shot by Lindsay McFeaters – to make it a 56-17 game.

IMG_0420“Obviously it’s been hard for her not to play,” said Shay, of an uncontested lay-up by injured senior Alexis Thomas to start the game. “She missed most of her sophomore season with an injury. Then in the summer she blew her knee out. She loves this game and it’s hard for her every time out.

“It certainly means something to her and her family,” continued Shay. “She’s been emotional all year. She wants to get out and play. She was afraid she was going to miss the lay-up. It’s a lot of pressure.”

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_0426 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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 2016-17 Northern Lebanon Girls’ Basketball Results

12/9 Littlestown 7:00 PM W 56-22
12/10 #
Palmyra
7:00 PM W 43-24
12/13
@Middletown
7:30 PM W 66-52
12/14
@Garden Spot
7:30 PM W 53-23
12/16 *
Annville-Cleona
7:30 PM W 58-24
12/19 *
@Lebanon Catholic
7:30 PM L 42-45
12/21 *
Columbia
7:30 PM W 56-36
12/27 #
McCaskey
6:00 PM W 47-36
12/28 #
@New Oxford
7:30 PM W 53-38
01/03 *
@Pequea Valley
7:30 PM W 54-33
01/06 *
@Lancaster Catholic
7:30 PM W 49-35
01/10 *
Lancaster Mennonite
7:30 PM W 50-21
01/13 *
Elco
7:30 PM W 51-22
01/17 *
@Annville-Cleona
7:30 PM W 48-18
01/20 *
Lebanon Catholic
7:30 PM W 44-31
01/21
Tulpehocken
7:30 PM W 57-29
01/24 *
@Columbia
7:30 PM W 55-34
01/26
Manheim Central
7:30 PM W 48-23
01/27 *
Pequea Valley
7:30 PM W 62-41
01/31 *
Lancaster Catholic
7:30 PM W 50-41
02/03 *
@Lancaster Mennonite
7:30 PM W 53-37
DATE OPPONENT TIME LOCATION
02/07 *
@Elco
7:30 PM Elco High School

 

 

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2016-17 Elco Girls’ Basketball Schedule

DATE OPPONENT TIME RESULT
12/09 #
Boiling Springs
6:00 PM W 53-27
12/10 #
@Middletown
7:30 PM W 62-58
12/13
@Manheim Central
7:30 PM
12/14
Fleetwood
7:30 PM L 42-56
12/16 *
Lancaster Catholic
7:30 PM L 51-66
12/19 *
@Lancaster Mennonite
7:30 PM
12/21 *
Lebanon Catholic
7:30 PM L 46-62
01/03 *
@Annville-Cleona
7:30 PM
01/04
Palmyra
7:30 PM
01/06 *
Pequea Valley
7:30 PM
01/10 *
Columbia
7:30 PM
01/13 *
@Northern Lebanon
7:30 PM L 22-51
01/16
@Hamburg
7:30 PM
01/17 *
@Lancaster Catholic
7:30 PM L 30-54
01/20 *
Lancaster Mennonite
7:30 PM
01/24 *
@Lebanon Catholic
7:30 PM
01/27 *
Annville-Cleona
7:30 PM
01/31 *
@Pequea Valley
7:30 PM
02/03 *
@Columbia
7:30 PM
02/07 *
Northern Lebanon
7:30 PM

 

 

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Lancaster-Lebanon League

 Final Section Three Standings

League Overall
W L PCT W L PCT PS PA
Northern Lebanon 13 1 92.86 21 1 95.45 1154 695
Lancaster Catholic 12 2 85.71 18 4 81.82 1299 906
Lebanon Catholic 11 3 78.57 16 6 72.73 1159 825
Columbia 8 6 57.14 9 11 45.00 957 1069
Pequea Valley 4 10 28.57 9 13 40.91 1094 1155
Elco 4 10 28.57 8 13 38.10 943 1058
Lancaster Mennonite 3 11 21.43 5 17 22.73 878 1107
Annville-Cleona 1 13 7.14 6 16 27.27 777 971

 

 

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PIAA District Three

 Class AAAA Power Rankings

AAAA School  W  L  T  Rating  TWP  OWP
1 Northern Lebanon 20- 1- 0  0.743367  0.941995  0.500598
2 Wyomissing Area 20- 1- 0  0.717192  0.951049  0.431366
3 Lancaster Catholic 18- 3- 0  0.716825  0.869136  0.530668
4 Bishop McDevitt 17- 4- 0  0.712315  0.849890  0.544168
5 Eastern York 14- 8- 0  0.634167  0.686957  0.569647
6 York Suburban 13- 9- 0  0.617327  0.652466  0.574380
7 West Perry 15- 6- 0  0.596542  0.713604  0.453466
8 Berks Catholic 10- 9- 0  0.578116  0.559796  0.600506
9 Boiling Springs 9- 9- 0  0.545107  0.557065  0.530492
10 Susquehanna Township 9- 12- 0  0.540068  0.486005  0.606145
11 Littlestown 13- 9- 0  0.523664  0.592511  0.439517
12 East Pennsboro Area 9- 11- 0  0.518378  0.472500  0.574450
13 Eastern Lebanon County 8- 12- 0  0.468273  0.398058  0.554090
14 Kennard Dale 6- 13- 0  0.447319  0.365651  0.547135
15 Hamburg Area 8- 13- 0  0.423150  0.394015  0.458760
16 James Buchanan 5- 16- 0  0.394243  0.280206  0.533623
17 Lancaster Mennonite 5- 17- 0  0.371129  0.227477  0.546703
18 Bermudian Springs 5- 16- 0  0.352767  0.224691  0.509305
19 Schuylkill Valley 2- 19- 0  0.283541  0.098765  0.509379

 

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