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IMG_8043BY JEFF FALK

FREDERICKSBURG – With six seniors and a brand-new head coach, the Northern Lebanon boys’ basketball program knew there were going to be nights like this. But if they could enter into some sort of ‘two steps up, one step back’ scenario, one’s got to think the Vikings would take it.

On Wednesday night at home, Northern Lebanon laid its first real stinker of the season, as it dropped a 75-49 Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three-Four crossover decision to Lancaster Mennonite. The Blazers’ 25-9 run through the second quarter put the Vikings behind the proverbial eight-ball, and they were never able to recover.

IMG_8061The result snapped Northern Lebanon’s four-game win streak and left it 4-2 overall and 2-1 in Section Three of the L-L. The Blazers moved to 3-3 on the year and 2-1 in Section Four.

“Last year against this Mennonite program, we got run off the floor,” said Northern Lebanon rookie head coach Chris George. “I told the guys, ‘We’ve got something to prove here. People are looking at you now’. We just wanted to play well. I thought we did at times. There’s a lot of confidence to take from this.

“Changing habits is a process,” continued George. “So far, it’s going very well. But it’s not something that goes from zero to a hundred over night. For us, it’s been about starting to create a program. The kids are buying in. We’ve had a good start and that helps. It helps the buying in.”

IMG_8032For as competitive as the they were for the first 11 minutes of the game, the Vikings were as non-competitive for a five-minute stretch late in the second quarter. Northern Lebanon was right there, down just 29-26, thanks to a couple of charity tossed from senior Isaac Bicher.

But it was about that time that the roof caved in on the Vikings. Lancaster Mennonite upped the tempo and Northern Lebanon began to struggle on the offensive end.

The result was 15 straight Lancaster Mennonite points. Then to add insult to injury, the Blazers nailed a half-court three-pointer at the halftime buzzer, to take a 47-28 margin to the break.

The Vikings were guilty of 11 turnovers in the second period alone.

“We punched them. They punched us. And in the second quarter, the wheels came off a little bit,” said George. “When things get tough, they (his players) go back to their habits. We’re still trying to figure some things out. To beat the better programs, you’ve got to play consistently.

IMG_8014“I thought we got away from our game,” George continued. “They (the Blazers) got after us. They played defense the way we wanted to. In the second quarter, we got a little undisciplined. We didn’t make the easy plays. We got away from the things we do well.”

Northern Lebanon got out of the gates well.

The Vikings led 8-4 early, 14-10 on a driving lay-in by Bicher and 17-15 courtesy of Bicher’s conventional three-point play, with 2:21 of the opening quarter to play. But Mennonite ended the first period on a 6-2 spurt, and opened the second quarter on an 8-0 burst to open a 29-19 advantage.

IMG_8007“I thought we did very well defensively early on,” said George. “But I thought we gave their shooters too much room in the second quarter. You know how shooters are. Their shooters got hot and they were feeling great. They (the Blazers) definitely had a great night. They were ready. They’re battle-tested. They caught us on a good night. We won the first quarter and we won the third quarter, but that second quarter killed us.

“We thought we had a size advantage,” added George. “We just struggled getting the ball in there. We’ve got to attack the basket. We did fairly well when we attacked. But we settled for jump shots in the second quarter. We made adjustments in the third, we had a little momentum going and we threw a ball away. But Mennonite does all the little things. They play hard.”

IMG_8078Bicher poured in 24 points, and senior teammate Shane Reese popped for 11 points, but Northern Lebanon only got 14 other points from the rest of its roster. Lancaster Mennonite shot nine-for-23 from distance and outscored the Vikings 27-3 out there.

“I tried to tell the kids there’s a lot to take from the first and third quarters,” said George. “In my opinion, there’s so much you can take from this. There are no easy games in Section Three. The way we played in the first and third quarter, that’s the way we’ve got to play every quarter, against every team on our schedule.”

Northern Lebanon did open the second half with back-to-back baskets from Bicher and Reese to pull to within 47-32. The closest the Vikings would come in the second half was 52-39 on a Bicher drive, with 56 seconds left in the third stanza.

IMG_8038But the Blazers started the final quarter on a 10-4 run and outscored Northern Lebanon 23-10 over the last eight minutes of action.

“During the struggles is when you find if the changes are starting to stick,” said George. “What do you do? Stick with the bad habits or go with what we’re trying to ingrain? I have a good senior class. They’re athletic. And I have group of sophomores who really love the game of basketball.

“We talk about competing every game,” concluded George. “We try not to get too far ahead of ourselves. They (his players) won seven games last year. Our defense is fantastic. Offensively, we’re challenged. It’s a transition for a lot of these guys. I want to be competitive in the section and maybe get to districts. Can we get there this year? We’ll see. All of our things were on the floor against Mennonite. We thought we had a great shot, but we’re not quite ready yet. That’s probably the message tonight. But I’m really optimistic.”

To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com, or to see more go to www.http://lebanonsportsbuzz.com/gallery-ten/.

 

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IMG_79802015-16 Northern Lebanon Boys’ Basketball Schedule

DATE OPPONENT TIME RESULT
12/04 #
Middletown
5:30 PM L 52-58
12/05
@Annville-Cleona
12:30 PM W 44-39
12/07
Tulpehocken
7:30 PM W 44-25
12/11 *
Pequea Valley
7:30 PM W 68-45
12/14 *
@Lebanon Catholic
7:30 PM W 52-49
12/16 *
Lancaster Mennonite
7:30 PM L 49-75
DATE OPPONENT TIME LOCATION
12/18 *
@Donegal
7:30 PM Donegal High School
12/21 *
Cocalico
7:30 PM Northern Lebanon High School
12/23 *
@Lampeter-Strasburg
7:30 PM Lampeter-Strasburg High School
01/05 *
Elco
7:30 PM Northern Lebanon High School
01/08 *
@Manheim Central
7:30 PM Manheim Central High School
01/11
@Annville-Cleona
7:30 PM Annville-Cleona High School
01/13
Lancaster Catholic
7:30 PM Northern Lebanon High School
01/15
@Columbia
7:30 PM Columbia High School
01/16
@Hamburg
7:30 PM Hamburg High School
01/19 *
Donegal
7:30 PM Northern Lebanon High School
01/22 *
@Cocalico
7:30 PM Cocalico High School
01/25 *
Lampeter-Strasburg
7:30 PM Northern Lebanon High School
01/28 *
@Elco
7:30 PM Elco High School
02/02 *
Manheim Central
7:30 PM Northern Lebanon High School

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IMG_8001Lancaster-Lebanon League

  Section Three Standings

TEAM LEAGUE OVERALL
Lampeter-Strasburg 3-0 6-0
Cocalico 3-0 4-0
Elco 3-0 6-0
Manheim Central 2-1 5-2
Northern Lebanon 2-1 4-2
Donegal 1-1 1-4

 

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IMG_8018Section Four Standings

TEAM LEAGUE OVERALL
Lancaster Mennonite 2-1 3-3
Lancaster Catholic 1-2 2-3
Columbia 0-3 2-4
Annville-Cleona 0-2 1-4
Lebanon Catholic 0-3 1-4
Pequea Valley 0-3 0-5

 

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