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IMG_7612BY JEFF FALK

ELLIOTTSBURG – The irony wasn’t lost on even the casual observer.

The anxiety the Northern Lebanon girls’ basketball team was experiencing was the result of all the hard work, time and effort it had put in – the exact things which had brought it to this point of the season. But the Vikings had to work through those nerves to get back to the team they had become.

On Wednesday night at West Perry High School, an early case of the jitters cost Northern Lebanon its break-out season, as it endured a season-ending 39-29 defeat to the Mustangs, in the opening round of the District Three Class AAA tournament. The Vikings managed only seven first-half points, before outscoring the defending Class AAA champions 22-17 over the final 16 minutes of action.

Though their nine-game improvement over last season seems to signal even brighter days ahead for the Vikings, after the game head coach Ken Battistelli declined to look too far ahead or too far behind. The 14th-seeded Vikings ended their campaign at 15-8 overall.

IMG_7548Third-seeded West Perry will carry a 21-3 mark into Saturday’s quarterfinal round of the district postseason.

“Yeah, nervousness was a factor,” said Battistelli. “You could see it, just the tightness and the nerves. They (his players) were really excited to be here. But we couldn’t get out of our own way. I told them, ‘Instead of making the moment more nervous, make it more focused. Everyone is out there by themselves with their own nerves, and it’s hard to play as a team.

“You could tell they (the Mustangs) were comfortable in the situation,” Battistelli continued. “Our kids were excited to be here. They were nervous. We didn’t play our best game, for sure.”

Even though it may have been a bit late, Northern Lebanon certainly calmed down after halftime and performed much better in the third and fourth periods. The Vikings were a missed free throw here, a rimmed-out jumper there, a loose ball away from turning the tables on West Perry and putting the pressure back on it.

IMG_7581In the face of its 15-point halftime deficit, Northern Lebanon extended its man-to-man in the third quarter, became more active in half court and the defense seemed to spark its offense. The Vikings closed to within 31-24 with 4:16 to go, on a couple of charity tosses from Zoe Zerman, and then got to within 33-26, 19 seconds later courtesy of a Zerman jumper.

But the Vikings’ offensive woes again reared its ugly head, in the form of a 3:10 scoring drought that ultimately spelled their doom.

“There wasn’t a whole lot of difference for us defensively in the second half,” said Battistelli. “We stretched out our defense a little bit more. Sometimes that settles us down. The focus changed a little bit, and we were determined to get it in the hole.

IMG_7661“I told them at halftime, ‘This is no fun like this’,” continued Battistelli. “‘The bottom line is: If you don’t surrender to the moment and go for it, things probably won’t change. If you trust in your teammates, you’ll be in it.’ But we almost had to be flawless to come back down 15 to a team that’s so good.”

Northern Lebanon held West Perry without a point for a 5:47 span to start the second half. During that time, the Vikings got a stop-and-pop and two free throws from Zerman and jumper by Megan Brandt to trim the Mustangs’ advantage to 22-13.

“I think this will help them enormously in the future,” said Battistelli of his girls. “I think it’ll put the fire in their bellies. But I don’t want to think about that right now. I’m just enjoyed in this season so much.This team has been super-duper to coach.

“I told them (his players) when we were preparing for this game it was more because I didn’t want my time with them to end more than I wanted to win, and I’m a very competitive person,” Battistelli added. “They’re really good kids. I’m ready to play another game right now.”

IMG_7596While the Vikings didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, they also left some points at the foul line, where they went nine-for-16. The Mustangs outscored Northern Lebanon by four points at the charity stripe and by six from beyond the arc.

Zerman recorded 13 points, the only Northern Lebanon scorer to reach double figures.

“I definitely think we could’ve won this game,” said Battistelli. “We didn’t play well. The heart is working with these kids, but sometimes the body doesn’t follow.

“We didn’t play offense nearly well enough to win,” added Battistelli. “We had a long lay-off. But I think their (the Mustangs’) experience helped them.”

IMG_7528Although they never led, the Vikings did pull to within 5-4 of West Perry thanks to an early three-pointer by senior Morgan Phillips. But Northern Lebanon would go point-less over the next eight minutes, as the Mustangs scored ten unanswered to open a 15-4 bulge.

“We have stretches when scoring is tough,” said Battistelli. “That comes from inexperience. They’re (the Mustangs) big. They’re experienced. They’re good. They didn’t get rattled. They do what they’ve got to do.

“The defense in the second half led to more opportunities,” continued Battistelli. “They (his players) didn’t have to rely on the offense. But I thought we played good defense the whole game.”

West Perry enjoyed a 22-7 lead at the break.

“Realistically, my goal was to win the section (Three of the Lancaster-Lebanon League) championship,” said Battistelli. “My expectation was to win tonight, and keep winning and winning. I get upset because I don’t get a chance to spend any more time with this exact same group.”

IMG_7631Northern Lebanon (29)

PLAYER FGM FTM FTA 3PM PTS_TOT FT%
Megan Brandt 1 3 6 5 0.5
Amber Kintzer 0 0 0 0 0
Ashley Lessing 0 0 0 0 0
Morgan Phillips 2 0 0 1 5 0
Hannah Reese 0 0 0 0 0
Elizabeth Voight 1 1 2 3 0.5
Marissa Yingst 1 0 0 1 3 0
Zoe Zerman 4 5 8 13 0.625

West Perry (39)

PLAYER FGM FTM FTA 3PM PTS_TOT FT%
Meredith Brown 1 3 4 5 0.75
Renee Cless 0 0 0 0 0
Samantha Knisely 1 0 0 1 3 0
Caitlyn Lavenberg 4 1 5 3 12 0.2
Gracie Stauffer 3 4 8 10 0.5
Madison Urich 1 5 6 7 0.833
Savannah Urich 1 0 0 2 0

IMG_7600

  • Team 1 2 3 4 Final
    Northern Lebanon
    4 3 8 14 29
    West Perry
    10 12 4 13 39

Northern Lebanon 2014-15 Results

DATE OPPONENT TIME RESULT
12/05
Pine Grove
7:00 PM W 41-30
12/06
Palmyra
7:00 PM L 26-64
12/10
Tulpehocken
7:30 PM W 39-27
12/12 *
Pequea Valley
7:30 PM W 43-20
12/15 *
@Lebanon Catholic
7:30 PM W 50-33
12/17 *
Lancaster Mennonite
7:30 PM W 54-38
12/19 *
@Donegal
7:30 PM L 26-47
12/23 *
Cocalico
7:30 PM L 38-53
12/29 #
Halifax
4:00 PM W 61-50
12/30 #
@Annville-Cleona
6:00 PM W 42-31
01/02 *
@Lampeter-Strasburg
7:30 PM L 36-48
01/03
Hamburg
4:30 PM W 44-29
01/06 *
Elco
7:30 PM W 38-32
01/09 *
@Manheim Central
7:30 PM W 41-25
01/12 *
@Annville-Cleona
7:30 PM W 54-20
01/14 *
Lancaster Catholic
7:00 PM L 54-55
01/16 *
@Columbia
7:30 PM W 63-53
01/20 *
Donegal
7:30 PM L 43-45
01/22 *
@Cocalico
7:30 PM L 33-47
01/27 *
Lampeter-Strasburg
7:30 PM W 43-35
01/30 *
@Elco
7:30 PM W 42-28
02/05 *
Manheim Central
7:30 PM W 57-32
02/18 #
@West Perry
7:00 PM L 29-39

IMG_7626District Three

 Class AAA Rankings

AAA School W L T Rating

1 West York Area 22- 0- 0 0.801535

2 Berks Catholic 18- 3- 0 0.758946

3West Perry 20- 2- 0 0.755646

4 Greencastle Antrim 20- 2- 0 0.731980

5 Lancaster Catholic 20- 2- 0 0.706445

IMG_76716 Donegal 18- 4- 0 0.704814

7 Conrad Weiser 16- 6- 0 0.697960

8 Fleetwood Area 15- 6- 0 0.681656

9 York Suburban 17- 5- 0 0.671733

10 Susquenita 18- 4- 0 0.664532

11 Northeastern 15- 7- 0 0.662706

12 Lampeter Strasburg 14- 8- 0 0.647345

13 East Pennsboro 14- 8- 0 0.636423

14 Northern Lebanon 15- 7- 0 0.635990

15 Boiling Springs 14- 8- 0 0.635674

IMG_767316 Big Spring 13- 9- 0 0.604452

17 Middletown Area 12- 10- 0 0.591337

18 James Buchanan 13- 9- 0 0.587368

19 Susquehannock 11- 11- 0 0.580677

20 Bishop McDevitt 7- 15- 0 0.540143

21 Eastern York 9- 13- 0 0.537037

22 Eastern Lebanon County 9- 13- 0 0.498268

23 Milton Hershey 8- 13- 0 0.471218

24 Schuylkill Valley 7- 14- 0 0.453915

25 Susquehanna Township 3- 19- 0 0.432361

IMG_755526 Dover Area 5- 17- 0 0.431364

27 Pequea Valley 9- 13- 0 0.423667

28 Manheim Central 6- 16- 0 0.410900

29 Hamburg Area 6- 16- 0 0.407728

30 Bermudian Springs 6- 16- 0 0.382379

31 Gettysburg Area 3- 19- 0 0.375061

32 Kennard Dale 4- 18- 0 0.352408

33 Twin Valley 3- 18- 0 0.344306

IMG_760234 Northern York 3- 19- 0 0.343851

35 Littlestown 4- 18- 0 0.328879

 

 

 

 

 

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