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 IMG_6840BY JEFF FALK

LEBANON – An elimination game in a consolation bracket to play for the right to go to states. Whaaat?!

A state playoff tournament it’s probably not going to win.

The Northern Lebanon boys’ basketball team had something to prove – to itself.

On Monday evening at Lebanon High School, the Vikings used a little external motivation – and a whole lot of the internal kind – to defeat Boiling Springs 62-54 in a consolation semifinal contest in the District Three Class AAAA postseason. With its season hanging in the balance, down nine points late in the third quarter, Northern Lebanon found its offensive stride and its defensive mojo.

IMG_6847Here’s what the result means. The seventh-seeded Vikings, now 17-9 overall, will take on top-seeded Lancaster Catholic on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at Lancaster Catholic for District Three’s fifth and final spot in the PIAA Class AAAA playoffs. Boiling Springs, the sixth seed, ended its season at 12-11.

“It’s definitely a challenge,” said Northern Lebanon head coach Chris George of late-season motivation. “I’ve been here before, and it’s a challenge. Everyday you’re doing little things, and we’ve been getting together off the court. As a coach, at this time of the year, you’ve got to be creative. You’re probably not creating new habits at this time of the year. You’ve got to find ways to keep their minds fresh. It’s been a long season for them (his players).

“One of the biggest things for our guys right now is getting a chance to play Lancaster Catholic again,” continued George. “For them (the Crusaders), they’re not going to see it as a big deal. We’re going to see it as a big deal. A lot of our kids are basketball-only kids, which is kind of a good thing. I do think they want to keep playing and keep growing. It’s kind of human nature to fee like it’s been a long season.”

“There’s two reasons this game was important,” said Northern Lebanon senior Michigan Daub. “First because we get another chance at Lancaster Catholic. And second, we just wanted to keep playing. We like playing with each other. We want to go out with a bang. We want to go out known as one of the best teams in Northern Lebanon history.”

IMG_6857Northern Lebanon’s season was flashing through its mind with less than three minutes left in the third quarter, trailing 40-31.

But a Cam Gensler three-pointer touched off a 15-0 Viking rampage that gave them a lead they would never relinquish. The run ended with a Alex Yeager three-pointer 32 seconds into the final period, one that put Northern Lebanon up 46-40.

In the interim, Yeager nailed a pair of pull-ups, Gensler drilled another three-pointer and Daub converted a couple of free throws.

“I thought it was getting away from us,” said George. “We hit a couple of baskets and ramped up the press, and I think that was the game right there. We didn’t get a chance to do it (press) in the first half. At halftime, one of our assistant coaches said, ‘We’ve got to get after these guys’. It was really difficult to score against them inside.

“It’s been the message,” George continued. “Tonight we had a minute or two where we weren’t locked in. But we’ve been playing defense. We’ve been hanging our hats on defense.”

“We knew we had to turn up the defensive intensity,” said Daub. “Once we did, we got turnovers. Once we did, we didn’t look back and just kept playing hard.”

A three-pointer from Yeager four-and-a-half minutes into the final period pushed the Vikings’ advantage to 51-43. Then Northern Lebanon held the Bubblers score-less for a key 2:15 span, during which time the Vikes got free throws from Yeager and Light, to open a 55-47 margin, with less than a minute to go.

“I thought that game was a real grind,” said George. “It was a battle. It was about gutting it out. All of our playoff games have been tough.

“Those guys (his players) drive me crazy offensively,” added George. “I tell them as long as they take care of the ball and play defense, I can give them some freedom offensively.”

IMG_6885“Coach told us he really liked the way we played out there,” said Daub. ” ‘We played really hard and really well’. We stuck in there really well. When we got the lead, we held on to it.”

As he’s been known to do, Light led the Vikings’ scoring, with 18 points. Gensler netted 15 points off the bench, Yeager tallied 14 points and Daub tossed in ten.

The Vikings outscored the Bubblers 33-9 from three-point land. Northern Lebanon also shot well from the foul line, 15-for-19.

“I thought we missed a lot of lay-ups,” said George. “Give them (the Bubblers) credit. They were making it tough. I think we’re best when Caleb is getting to the rim, attacking the basket and finding shooters.

“We just had some team stuff (a starting lineup that featured three different starters),” George added. “We’ve used a number of different lineups this season. Sometimes the best five isn’t always the best way to go.”

IMG_7010“Sometimes we stick to the long ball too much,” said Daub. “That’s how we live and die. When we miss it, we don’t do well. When we make it, we do well.”

Daub drained a couple of triples, Light tossed in a pair of free throws and Spencer Mullins scored on a stick-back, as Northern Lebanon grabbed an early 10-4 lead. That advantage reached 15-8 three minutes later, on an inside move from Daub.

“Guys aren’t moving,” said George, of what happens when the Viking offense stagnates. “The positive to our offense as a player is we share the ball. We don’t run things for one guy. It’s more of a freelance offense. It’s an offense that can look really bad when guys aren’t moving.”

“I wouldn’t necessarily call it a ‘must’,” said Daub of getting to states. “It’s what we’re ready for. We were trying to get the section (Three of the Lancaster-Lebanon League), and when we didn’t, states became the goal.”

IMG_6963Light’s second three-pointer of the second stanza increased Northern Lebanon’s margin to 23-15. But over the final 5:13 of the first half, Boiling Springs outscored the Vikings 13-3 to carry a 28-26 edge to the locker room.

The Bubblers also outscored Northern Lebanon 12-5 to open the second half of action.

“It’s huge,” said George. “The Elco game was the first step. Tonight was the second step, and to get a chance to play for a state playoff spot. It’s a big opportunity for us. I’m happy for the kids.”

 

 

 

 

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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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2017-18 Northern Lebanon Boys’ Basketball Results

Date Opponents Results
12/08
6:00 pm
Palmyra
Northern Lebanon
at Donegal
37
49
12/09
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Donegal
52
55
12/13
7:30 pm
Conrad Weiser
at Northern Lebanon
59
67
12/15
7:30 pm
Annville-Cleona
at Northern Lebanon
59
63
12/18
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Lebanon Catholic
80
36
12/20
7:30 pm
Columbia
at Northern Lebanon
48
56
12/22
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Pequea Valley
83
45
12/27
7:30 pm
Daniel Boone
at Northern Lebanon
55
66
12/28
7:30 pm
Penn Manor
at Northern Lebanon
54
51
1/09
7:30 pm
Lancaster Mennonite
at Northern Lebanon
62
63
1/11
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Lancaster Catholic
38
61
1/12
7:30 pm
Elco
at Northern Lebanon
44
45
1/18
7:30 pm
Middletown
at Northern Lebanon
71
61
1/19
7:30 pm
Lebanon Catholic
at Northern Lebanon
35
76
1/20
2:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Tulpehocken
74
52
1/22
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Annville-Cleona
55
42
1/23
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Columbia
59
50
1/25
7:30 pm
Manheim Central
at Northern Lebanon
40
43
1/26
7:30 pm
Pequea Valley
at Northern Lebanon
23
67
1/30
7:30 pm
Lancaster Catholic
at Northern Lebanon
55
54
2/02
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Lancaster Mennonite
43
66
2/06
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Elco
43
56
2/12
7:00 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Hempfield
41
58
2/19
7:00 pm
Elco
at Northern Lebanon
65
74
2/22
7:00 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Berks Catholic
34
52
2/26
5:00 pm
Boiling Springs
Northern Lebanon
at Lebanon
54
62
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PIAA District Three Class AAAA Consolation Semifinal

 (at Lebanon High School)

Northern Lebanon 62, Boiling Springs 54

Boiling Springs (54)

Pham 2 0-0 5; Wagner 0 0-0 0; LaNoue 4 2-5 10; VonStein 5 3-3 13; Myers 4 1-2 11; Hacker 5 1-2 11; Donley 2 0-0 4. Three-point field goals: Myers 2, Pham. Totals: 22 7-12 54.

Northern Lebanon (62)

Light 4 7-11 18; Hubbard 1 0-0 3; Gensler 4 4-4 15; Yeager 5 2-2 14; Daub 3 2-2 10; Leedy-Reidel 1-0-2; Bowers 0 0-0 0; Eyan Margut 0 0-0 0. Three-point field goals: Light 3, Gensler 3, Yeager 2, Daub 2, Hubbard. Totals: 18 15-19 62.

Boiling Springs 12 16 12 14 – 54

Northern Lebanon 15 11 17 19 – 62

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