BY JEFF FALK
Rules are made to be broken.
Oops, now wait a minute. That’s not right.
It’s records which are made to be broken.
What gives records such meaning is that they’re so personal. After all, isn’t that what records are, personal accomplishments?
But records also have the power to bring people together. To bridge generations. To help us understand the human condition.
A Northern Lebanon High School basketball scoring record has brought two unlikely subjects together.
Actually, Sam Light and Travis Ludwig aren’t all that dissimilar. They’re just two great Viking players separated by 24 years of time.
On February 4, in the second quarter of a Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three game in Fredericksburg, Light and Ludwig became forever linked in time. With 4:16 to go before halftime, Light accepted a pass from friend and teammate Daymon ‘Sunshine’ Long and scored on a fast break.
That basket pushed Light past Ludwig’s career total of 1,567 points and made him the Vikings’ all-time leading scorer. Great feel-good stuff, but in the big picture of scholastic athletics, not all that out of the ordinary.
Here’s what made it special – Ludwig was on hand, in the stands, to witness his record broken. In fact, Ludwig attended a handful of Viking games after he first learned Light was threatening the mark.
“I was definitely rooting for him all the way, especially when it became a matter of when, not if,” said Ludwig, a 1990 graduate of NLHS. “I would’ve felt bad if he hadn’t gotten it. He’s deserving of it. Records are made to be broken. Twenty-three years of having it, I was proud to hold it. And I’m happy to see the team doing well again.”
“No, I wasn’t really sure exactly how many points I needed,” said Light. “But I knew it when the student section started screaming. It was just a huge weight off my shoulders. I just wanted to get past it. But it wasn’t about me. It was about all the seniors.
” ‘Sunshine’s’ been my best friend since seventh grade,” Light added. “And he’s the one who passed me the ball. And I’m glad it happened that way.”
Now This Space isn’t suggesting that Light and Ludwig have become fast friends, that they now pal around together and hang out at the soda shop. Twenty-four years and a couple of generations have a way of precluding that from happening.
But Light and Ludwig have met on a couple of occasions, they know each other well enough to say ‘hello’. But they now share a bond that will never be broken.
Or at least until the next Sam Light or Travis Ludwig comes along.
“He’s one of the greatest players of all-time at Northern Lebanon,” said Light, when asked who Travis Ludwig was. “That’s (whether he should be included in the same conversation) not for me to decide. I’m just trying to make our team the best to play at Northern Lebanon.
“I knew he was there,” continued Light. “But after the game, he told me he was following me. That was kind of cool.”
“It was a very cool experience,” said Ludwig, who’s now in his early 40s. “I wouldn’t mind sitting down with for a conversation. He seems like a humble guy. You like to see guys putting out on the floor. He appears to be an overall great kid. And I definitely got a renewed interest in Northern Lebanon basketball because of him.
“I’m just very proud of him,” Ludwig continued. “I was so happy for him. He wanted to get it over with. He’s got big games to concentrate on now. I felt a sense of relief for him.”
It should be pointed out that Ludwig, a multi-sport star, started as a freshman for the Vikings and reached his point total in four seasons. The three-point shot came into play for Ludwig, who was part of three section winning teams at Northern Lebanon, at the beginning of his sophomore year.
Light, who has come to focus on basketball, accomplished his feat in three seasons. He did it with exceptional quickness in the open floor, a deadly three-point eye, an uncanny knack for getting to the free throw line and by converting the foul shot opportunities he has created.
“I played at least 25 more games than he did,” said Ludwig, a pharmacist with Pinnacle Health in Harrisburg. “He’s no doubt deserving of it. It’s fun to watch him play. His ability to get into the paint, draw fouls and get to the line is fun to watch. He’s got an unbelievable cross-over (dribble).
“I probably shot more ‘threes’,” Ludwig continued. “Just because of my size alone, I always had pretty good range. 5-10 sort of pushed me out further away from the basket. In my junior and senior years, I definitely started taking it more to the hole.”
“The reason I was able to do it was my teammates,” said Light. “They do a lot for me. That and a lot of hard work in the summer time.
“Yeah, there was a little bit of pressure,” Light added. “I tried not to think about it. I’m glad it happened in the second quarter, so I could have fun in the second half and help win the game.”
But the world of Northern Lebanon boys’ basketball is a small one, especially for record holders. While Ludwig played football with Sam’s father John in the late 1980s, it is now Ludwig’s son who has a new favorite player.
“He’s been a pleasure to watch,” said Ludwig of Light. “Actually, my son might be his number-one fan. I’m now his (son’s) second favorite basketball player. My dad (former Viking athletic director Ed Ludwig) keeps me in touch with what’s going on at Northern Lebanon. I knew he (Light) led the Lancaster-Lebanon League in scoring in his sophomore year and junior year.
“He’s got a special talent,” continued Ludwig. “As far as guard play, he’s one of the best I’ve seen at that level. He reminds me of (former Annville-Cleona star) Will Lasky. He’s got that ability to take over a game, and I’m just as impressed with his passing. He sees the court really well and has great court sense. I think he’ll do well at the next level.”
“Things are going well,” said Light, who’s considering playing college basketball at Division Three Wilkes and Lebanon Valley, among others. “We just have to finish strong and see what happens then. It’s been a good year.
“Our goal from here on out is just to win each game, play our best and hardest and hopefully reach Giant Center,” Light concluded. “Just be the team that went the farthest in Northern Lebanon history.”
Again with the history?