BY JEFF FALK
FREDERICKSBURG – In basketball circles, 19 hours can be a quick turnaround. But if one can manage the emotional aspect of it and muster the physical energy, it can also be an important bounce-back opportunity.
And not unlike life, that’s what athletics are all about.
On Saturday evening, the surging Northern Lebanon girls’ basketball team took advantage of a huge bounce-back opportunity and beat Hamburg 44-29 in a non-league affair. The Vikings ripped off 11 unanswered points late in the second quarter to gain an advantage, then used a tenacious man-to-man defense and a deliberate offense to protect it.
A night prior, Northern Lebanon had dropped a 48-36 decision at Lampeter-Strasburg – the only setback in its last four outings. Northern Lebanon is now 8-4 overall, and has already surpassed its win total of a season ago.
The loss was Hamburg’s fifth straight and left it 3-6 on the campaign.
“It was another opportunity, because mentally we were devastated,” said Northern Lebanon head coach Ken Battistelli of the Friday loss to L-S. “I was devastated. It was one game, but we felt like we were better and let it slip away. We had a walk-through today, we talked and the effort was clearly there.
“I really liked our defensive intensity,” continued Battistelli. “We came off a heart-breaker last night, and I was worried we were going to be phased out mentally and physically.”
All evidence to the contrary.
The Vikings flexed their muscles late in the second period, when they shut out the Hawks for a 4:02 span and turned a tie game into a 23-12 lead. On the offensive end, Northern Lebanon did its damage courtesy of four Zoe Zerman points, two inside maneuvers by fellow sophomore Megan Brandt and a trey from senior Morgan Phillips.
“What I told the kids at halftime was those runs we’re getting on, we’re focusing and finishing better,” said Battistelli. “It’s not like our offense isn’t yielding opportunities. Some of the plays we made during that run weren’t easy.
“We’re not remotely happy with 8-4,” Battistelli added. “We felt like we lost against Palmyra and they were the better team. That’s the only loss we feel decently about. Yeah, our record is better than last year’s. But we expected to be better than last year.”
With a variety of athletic moves in the post, Brandt paced the Viking scoring with 18 points. Phillips drained a trio three-point field goals and accumulated a dozen points, while Zerman ran the show and recorded 11 points, on seven-for-11 free throwing.
At the charity stripe, Northern Lebanon outscored Hamburg 17-4.
“Megan is one of the nicest, most polite kids I have ever met,” said Battistelli of Brandt. “Sadly, I’m trying to bring the other side out of her. She’s just learning to explore her violent side. She’s lanky and gangly and still growing into her body. If she moves too fast, she loses her balance and misses.
“I’m very happy with our defense,” continued Battistelli. “To play our (man-to-man) defense, it takes five people. If we have four people playing well, it looks ugly. When we do it right, it looks like there’s no holes in it.”
A battle of wills, the third quarter was a result of Northern Lebanon’s offense deliberately working against Hamburg’s 2-3 zone. But the Vikings still emerged from it with a 5-4 scoring edge, thanks to stick back from Brandt and a Phillips trey.
Then Northern Lebanon opened the final stanza with seven straight points – another inside maneuver and three free throw by Brandt and a couple of Zerman foul shots – to push its advantage to 35-18.
“With a zone, you have to have confidence to beat it,” said Battistelli. “To attack a zone, you’ve got to be focused. People like playing against it because there’s not a lot of pressure on the ball, but every single person has to execute their job. If everybody’s not focused and you get swinging the ball around, the zone just flows. We were able to rebound against it and we were able to get Brandt inside of it.”
Courtesy of a couple of foul shots from Zerman, Northern Lebanon opened a 10-4 lead near the end of the first quarter. But Hamburg netted eight of the next ten points and tied the score at 12-all, three minutes into the second stanza.
“We think so,” said Battistelli, when asked if his club can compete for a Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three championship. “But we could lose to Elco on Tuesday. We think we have to win all of them. That’s our plan. If it doesn’t happen, then we go on to Phase Two.
“We’ve talked about districts too,” concluded Battitstelli. “We talked about that when we were recovering this morning. ‘We have to come out and do this, because we have these goals.’ All these games are important. Hamburg is a tough and scrappy and rough team, but those kinds of teams give us trouble.”
|7:00 PM||W 41-30|
|7:00 PM||L 26-64|
|7:30 PM||W 39-27|
|7:30 PM||W 43-20|
|7:30 PM||W 50-33|
|7:30 PM||W 54-38|
|7:30 PM||L 26-47|
|7:30 PM||L 38-53|
|4:00 PM||W 61-50|
|6:00 PM||W 42-31|
|7:30 PM||L 36-48|
|4:30 PM||W 44-29|
Section Three Standings