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IMG_4624BY JEFF FALK

LEBANON – It ain’t easy. It’s never easy.

The Northern Lebanon girls’ basketball team just doesn’t approach things that way.

But if it ever was easy, this would be it.

On Friday evening at Lebanon High School, during the opening round of the PIAA Class AAAA postseason, the Vikings played ‘name the score’ and blew out Murrell Dobbins CTE 74-16. Playing with a sense of urgency, Northern Lebanon led from start to finish, steadily increased its lead throughout and notched its most convincing victory over the season.

A week removed from its first District Three championship in program history, Northern Lebanon improved to 26-2 with its fourth straight playoff triumph. The Vikings moved on to Tuesday’s second round, where they will meet District Four runner-up Mifflinburg, which took care of Allentown Central Catholic 37-28, at a site and time to be determined.

IMG_4553Northern Lebanon, which is 54-6 in its last 60 outings over the last two years, made it to the state quarterfinals last season.

The fifth-place finisher out of District 12, Dobbins concluded its campaign at 11-5.

“Honestly, it’s hard,” said Northern Lebanon head coach Ken Battistelli. “Part of you is thankful because it’s not so stressful. But part of me doesn’t like it because I like the competition, I like the battle. You can’t tell the kids not to play. The most important thing is they deserved this because of our finish in districts. It’s a state win and we earned it. We’re proud to win. We’re glad to move on.

“We didn’t expect that,” continued Battiselli. “We didn’t know what to expect. We were terrified. Our kids did play well. We haven’t ever talked about states. They understand. This is definitely a good win. Five more games. We’re trying not to over think things. We’re trying to prepare. The kids know we’re in states.”

Northern Lebanon tallied the first 14 points of the contest. With Zoe Zerman registering seven points, Megan Brandt recording six points and Liz Voight popping for six, the opening period ended with the Vikings ahead 21-2.

IMG_4541A three-pointer from Zerman with 1:48 left in the first quarter had given the Vikings more points than Dobbins would score the entire game.

“You want to see the focus on whatever is important to you as a coach,” said Battistelli. “We wanted to work and take good shots. With our kind of offense, we work on our players’ decision-making. I don’t think we took very many bad shots. We were patient. I thought our mental aspect was strong throughout the game.

“I’m thrilled those little legs didn’t get destroyed,” Battistelli continued. “We came out healthy and happy. I’d be glad if you gave me four more like this.”

With five different Vikings getting into the act, Northern Lebanon notched the first 13 points of the second stanza to push its advantage to 34-2. The Vikings also scored the final ten points of the second quarter – two buckets by Voight, a drive by Zara Zerman, an Amber Kintzer deuce and a lay-in from Tabitha Hubbard – and took a 48-6 bulge to intermission.

Northern Lebanon didn’t commit its first team foul until 50 seconds of the first half remained.

IMG_4603“That made me happy,” said Battistelli of his troops’ maintained intensity. “You can get sloppy. There’s always things we try to emphasize. The message is still getting through. I don’t think scoring 70 points can be bad for you. I sometimes worry about where points are going to come from.

“It (the past week) kind of gave us time to work on all the wrinkles,” Battistelli added. “We got to tinker with some things. We messed around with some new zone concepts. It allowed us to work on things.”

The Vikings’ hot shooting led to 32 total field goals and eight-for-nine free throwing. Northern Lebanon’s uncharacteristic liberal substituting began early in the second quarter and continued throughout.

Voight poured in a game-high 20 points, Zoe Zerman contributed 18 points, Zara Zerman collected 13 and Brandt had 11. The Vikings forced 30 turnovers and committed just six of their own.

Northern Lebanon was whistled for only three total team fouls and Dobbins did not attempt a free throw.

IMG_4527The result represented the most points Northern Lebanon has scored this season, as well as the fewest points it has given up.

“Liz looked like she was feeling good out there,” said Battistelli. “If she starts playing to her potential, we’re going to be OK.  I thought Liz showed she could do some stuff. And all the kids got in.”

Northern Lebanon also pieced together a 12-2 run at the beginning of the second half, as it extended its advantage to 60-8. Brandt showed the way with five points, Zoe Zerman scored two buckets, Voight hit another jumper and Zara Zerman connected on a charity toss.

“To win,” said Battistelli of his side’s goal for the state tournament. “One of my players asked me, ‘Honestly, do you think we can win this?’ I said, ‘Of course we can’. I was worried if other kids were thinking that, so we had a little meeting. We just played three teams in districts who are really good. We know we can play better. The goal is to win five games.

“No one is allowed to think about that (that one way or the other, the season is winding down),” continued Battistelli. “That’s not real. It’s absolute and utter denial. We’ve got this moment and we’re going to eat it up.”

 

 

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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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 2016-17 Northern Lebanon Girls’ Basketball Results

Date Teams Score
12/09
7:00 pm
Littlestown
at Northern Lebanon
22
56
12/10
7:30 pm
Palmyra
at Northern Lebanon
24
43
12/13
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Middletown
67
52
12/14
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Garden Spot
53
23
12/16
7:30 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Northern Lebanon
24
58
12/19
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Lebanon Catholic
42
45
12/21
7:30 pm
Columbia
at Northern Lebanon
36
56
12/27
6:00 pm
McCaskey
Northern Lebanon
at Lebanon
36
47
12/28
7:30 pm
New Oxford
Northern Lebanon
at Lebanon
38
53
1/03
7:00 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Pequea Valley
54
33
1/06
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Lancaster Catholic
49
35
1/10
7:30 pm
Lancaster Mennonite
at Northern Lebanon
21
50
1/13
7:30 pm
Elco
at Northern Lebanon
22
51
1/17
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Annville-Cleona
48
18
1/20
7:30 pm
Lebanon Catholic
at Northern Lebanon
31
44
1/21
7:30 pm
Tulpehocken
at Northern Lebanon
29
57
1/24
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Columbia
55
34
1/26
7:30 pm
Manheim Central
at Northern Lebanon
23
48
1/27
7:30 pm
Pequea Valley
at Northern Lebanon
41
62
1/31
7:30 pm
Lancaster Catholic
at Northern Lebanon
41
50
2/03
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Lancaster Mennonite
53
37
2/07
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Elco
58
30
2/11
6:00 pm
Hempfield
at Northern Lebanon
31
53
2/14
7:00 pm
Northern Lebanon
Cedar Crest
at Lebanon
40
49
2/24
7:00 pm
Berks Catholic
at Northern Lebanon
38
41
2/28
8:00 pm
Lancaster Catholic
Northern Lebanon
at Warwick
43
50
3/03
5:00 pm
Bishop McDevitt
Northern Lebanon
at Giant Center
44
46
3/10
5:00 pm
Murrell Dobbins CTE
Northern Lebanon
at Lebanon

 

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