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 IMG_7593BY JEFF FALK

LANCASTER – The meaning? The significance? The importance? One could draw up a list of compelling implications.

But at the top of the list is ‘An opportunity to compete’. Really compete. Real hard.

The competitive fire inside the Northern Lebanon girls’ basketball team never burned brighter than it did Friday night at Lancaster Catholic High School, during its 49-35 triumph over the hometown Crusaders. In a regular-season contest that betrayed its early January place on the calendar, the Vikings played intense defense then buried Lancaster Catholic with a barrage of late third-quarter three-point bombs.

Not only did the result snap the Crusdaers’ 100-game Lancaster-Lebanon League regular-season win streak, it also validated the biggest girls’ basketball win in Northern Lebanon history – last season’s stunning upset of Lancaster Catholic in the state playoffs. The outcome also kept the Vikings firmly entrenched in this season’s L-L Section Three race.

IMG_7732Northern Lebanon, the reigning L-L Section Three champion, improved to 10-1 overall and 4-1 in the league. Lancaster Catholic, last season’s Lancaster-Lebanon Section Four champion, slipped to 6-2 on the season and 4-1 in the circuit.

“To me personally, the most important thing about is that we beat them last year,” said Northern Lebanon head coach Ken Battistelli of the Crusaders. “We know they’re an incredible team. We’re coming here and they want us badly. But they didn’t want it more than we wanted it.

“I love what’s inside of them (his players),” continued Battistelli. “Lancaster Catholic had to want us bad. But they didn’t want us more. We can’t think about things like the section because we have to play them again. I’m happy we came here and won.”

IMG_7573Following a slug fest of a first quarter, the Vikings asserted themselves in the second period, when the Crusaders found it difficult to match their intensity.

Northern Lebanon held Lancaster Catholic without a score of any kind over the first 4:18 of the second stanza, and the subsequent 6-0 run gave the Vikings a 15-11 lead. Northern Lebanon points came in the form of Megan Brandt free throws, a Zoe Zerman drive and an inside bucket from Brandt.

But the burst that gave Northern Lebanon the lead for good, was another 6-0 run later in the frame. Brandt scored on a drive and stopped-and-popped for a deuce, before Zara Zerman’s steal and lay-in gave the Vikings a 23-18 advantage.

“This looked like us,” said Battistelli. “This is what we do. We looked crazy in the first quarter. We’re supposed to get tired because we don’t have any depth. But they’re (his players) not allowed to get tired.

IMG_7726“I think we’re no longer surprised to find ourselves in that spot,” continued Battistelli. “I don’t think this team expects to be beaten. Not that we can’t be beaten.”

The Vikings held Lancaster Catholic to four points in the third period and outscored it 8-1 over the final two minutes of the quarter. Zara Zerman scored on an inbound play, ahead of a Zara Zerman trey and a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Brandt.

And when Liz Voight drilled another Northern Lebanon three-ball 39 seconds into the final  period, the Vikings were sitting on a 40-27 cushion.

“I can’t put myself in their shoes,” said Battistelli of his players. “But when she (Brandt) makes that I’m thinking, ‘They’re here. They’re ready. They’re feeling it.’ It’s relief. But there were a lot of those huge swings.

IMG_7692“I thought their (the Crusaders’) intensity and pressure was very disruptive to our offense,” added Battistelli. “But our defensive poise was tremendous.”

Up 13 points early in the fourth quarter, all that was left for the Vikings to do was run clock and make free throws. Zoe Zerman, Brandt and Voight combined to go seven-for-eight at the charity stripe over the final 2:51.

For the night, Northern Lebanon went 11-for-12 at the foul line.

“I’d be lying if I said that sometimes I’m not impressed,” said Battistelli of his troops. “They’ve got to be tired. They’ve got to be. But God help me if I put a sub in for Brandt or Zoe. They just know that’s how you play basketball.

“No. That’s (snapping Lancaster Catholic’s 100-win streak in L-L play) nothing,” Battistelli added. “I have some personal feelings about it right now. Northern Lebanon and Lancaster Catholic has a nice little situation going because we’ve played some good games over the past two seasons. They won 100 games. We’re the ones to stop it.”

Brandt led all scorers with 21 points. But just as important was the defensive job Zoe Zerman did on Crusader superstar Kiki Jefferson. Zerman held Jefferson to 12 points, some nine below her average, while scoring 11 points of her own.

“We had different strategies on how to do it,” said Battistelli, about containing Jefferson. “But the most important one was Zoe covers Kiki. Zoe takes that personally. In transition, that’s a five-man job.

IMG_7655“If she moves for even a second, I’m going to yell at her,” Battistelli continued. “But that’s our Zoe. She is expected to succeed, and if we didn’t expect that, she’d be disappointed.”

The opening period was very physical, and a drive by Zoe Zerman gave the Vikings an early 9-7 edge. But Lancaster Catholic netted the last two buckets of the first quarter.

“I would say I’ve never been in a place that’s harder to play,” said Battistelli. “But we’re kind of embracing it. With any challenge it’s like, ‘More. Give us more.’

“The game was extremely physical all around,” Battistelli continued. “In the end, that leads to happiness. When you overcome obstacles, it just feels better.”

 

 

 

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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 Schedule

DATE OPPONENT TIME RESULT
12/09 #
Littlestown
7:00 PM W 56-22
12/10 #
Palmyra
7:00 PM W 43-24
12/13
@Middletown
7:30 PM W 66-52
12/14
@Garden Spot
7:30 PM W 53-23
12/16 *
Annville-Cleona
7:30 PM W 58-24
12/19 *
@Lebanon Catholic
7:30 PM L 42-45
12/21 *
Columbia
7:30 PM W 56-36
12/27 #
McCaskey
6:00 PM W 47-36
12/28 #
@New Oxford
7:30 PM W 53-38
01/03 *
@Pequea Valley
7:30 PM
DATE OPPONENT TIME LOCATION
01/06 *
@Lancaster Catholic
7:30 PM Lancaster Catholic High School
01/10 *
Lancaster Mennonite
7:30 PM Northern Lebanon High School
01/13 *
Elco
7:30 PM Northern Lebanon High School
01/17 *
@Annville-Cleona
7:30 PM Annville-Cleona High School
01/20 *
Lebanon Catholic
7:30 PM Northern Lebanon High School
01/21
Tulpehocken
7:30 PM Northern Lebanon High School
01/24 *
@Columbia
7:30 PM Columbia High School
01/26
Manheim Central
7:30 PM Northern Lebanon High School
01/27 *
Pequea Valley
7:30 PM Northern Lebanon High School
01/31 *
Lancaster Catholic
7:30 PM Northern Lebanon High School
02/03 *
@Lancaster Mennonite
7:30 PM Lancaster Mennonite High School
02/07 *
@Elco
7:30 PM Elco High School
  

 

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PIAA District Three

Class AAAA Power Rankings

School  W  L  T  Rating  TWP  OWP
1 Eastern York 8- 1- 0  0.753817  0.914573  0.557337
2 Lancaster Catholic 6- 1- 0  0.731927  0.890511  0.538101
3 Northern Lebanon 9- 1- 0  0.702920  0.883178  0.482605
4 Wyomissing Area 8- 1- 0  0.681039  0.887701  0.428452
5 Bishop McDevitt 7- 3- 0  0.673988  0.766667  0.560713
6 Berks Catholic 4- 3- 0  0.585391  0.598639  0.569198
7 West Perry 7- 3- 0  0.585207  0.707447  0.435802
8 Susquehanna Township 3- 4- 0  0.541844  0.480315  0.617046
9 Hamburg Area 6- 4- 0  0.540091  0.587629  0.481989
10 Boiling Springs 4- 4- 0  0.533943  0.536585  0.530713
11 Eastern Lebanon County 5- 5- 0  0.524077  0.515000  0.535172
12 York Suburban 3- 6- 0  0.499302  0.403509  0.616383
13 East Pennsboro Area 3- 5- 0  0.470001  0.393333  0.563706
14 James Buchanan 3- 7- 0  0.446500  0.353933  0.559639
15 Littlestown 4- 6- 0  0.411866  0.383838  0.446122
16 Kennard Dale 1- 5- 0  0.374717  0.209091  0.577149
17 Lancaster Mennonite 2- 9- 0  0.348747  0.175115  0.560964
18 Schuylkill Valley 2- 7- 0  0.345828  0.211640  0.509836
19 Bermudian Springs 2- 7- 0  0.329531  0.210526  0.474982

 

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Lancaster-Lebanon League

 Section Three Standings

League Overall
W L PCT W L PCT PS PA
Lebanon Catholic 5 0 100.00 8 3 72.73 564 433
Northern Lebanon 4 1 80.00 10 1 90.91 578 368
Lancaster Catholic 4 1 80.00 6 2 75.00 473 336
Elco 2 3 40.00 5 6 45.45 511 547
Columbia 2 3 40.00 3 7 30.00 468 551
Annville-Cleona 1 4 20.00 5 5 50.00 364 366
Pequea Valley 1 4 20.00 5 6 45.45 535 532
Lancaster Mennonite 1 4 20.00 2 10 16.67 465 587

 

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