BY JEFF FALK
FREDERICKSBURG – The Northern Lebanon boys’ basketball team was guilty of a variety of forced and unforced errors last night. But perhaps the Vikings’ biggest mistake was committed before the game even started -when it came time to determine match-ups for its annual holiday tournament.
On Friday evening, Northern Lebanon flew in the face of conventional thinking in scheduling athletic Hilda Goodling Impact Academy as its opening-round opponent for the event, and paid the expected price. The Vikings experienced difficulties hanging with the talented Mighty Warriors, especially in the open floor, and dropped a 67-55 decision.
Hilda Goodling Impact Academy took control of the outcome at the start of the second half, and then weathered a number of Viking runs in the fourth quarter. But Northern Lebanon never led and never did solve the Mighty Warriors’ trapping, full court man-to-man defense, or its fast-break, attacking style of offense.
The result dropped Northern Lebanon to 4-5 overall and into Saturday’s 5:30 p.m. consolation game with New Covenant Christian Academy, which fell to Schuylkill Valley 58-35 in the other tourney opener. The championship game between York’s Hilda Goodling Impact, now 3-3, and Schuylkill Valley will follow at 7 p.m..
“It’s my decision,” said Northern Lebanon head coach Gary Bouchette, as to who plays whom in the opening round of the tournament. “You’ve got to play anybody anyway. I understand that everyone wants to get to the championship of their own tournament. But I don’t always roll that way.
“In all reality, I don’t think I’ve done that here,” Bouchette continued. “I’d rather play a tougher team.”
After the Vikings had battled back to within a point of the lead late in the first half, Hilda Goodling notched the last bucket of the second quarter and the first 12 points of the third quarter to open a 39-24 bulge. And Northern Lebanon never fully recovered.
Eventually, the Warriors margin reached 47-30 late in the third stanza.
“Giddy-up,” said Bouchette of the Warriors’ start to the second half. “They got out and ran. Bucket, bucket, bucket, and it was all out of transition. Their half court sets didn’t hurt us.
“It’s huge,” added Bouchette. “We were chipping away, and we look up at the scoreboard and it’s like a slap in the face.”
But to the Vikings’ credit they did not wilt.
After tallying the first five points of the fourth quarter, Northern Lebanon trimmed its deficit to 52-43 on a charity toss from freshman Caleb Light with 5:25 to go. Thirty-three seconds later, senior guard Isaac Ray stroked his fourth trey of the evening to pull the Vikings to within 55-46.
“If you can break it, it’s not hard to break,” said Bouchette of HGIA’s full-court pressure defense. “But we stood around and watched.
“In my mind, we didn’t put ourselves in that position,” Bouchette continued. “You have to stay away from the sidelines. That just makes it easier for them to trap. And my guards aren’t the biggest. It seems like we fed into their athleticism.”
Ray registered a total of 22 points for Northern Lebanon, but didn’t receive a lot of scoring support from teammates. Guard Juwan Gooding struck for 28 Mighty Warrior points.
The Vikings actually outscored Hilda Goodling Impact Academy 18-3 from beyond the arc. But because of their efficiency in transition, the Warriors enjoyed a 46-18 scoring advantage around the basket.
“I certainly enjoyed it,” said Bouchette of the challenge presented by HGIA. “It gave them (his players) a different look. They (the Warriors) took us out of our game, out of our rhythm. There was always someone open, but we didn’t rotate back to the open guy.
“I hope it helps us down the road,” Bouchette continued. “It can’t make us worse. Teams aren’t going to put that type of pressure on you.”
Northern Lebanon performed at its peak late in the second quarter – not long after Hilda Goodling Impact Academy had opened a 23-13 bulge – by limiting its turnovers, patiently running its half-court offense and playing decent man-to-man defense. The Vikes hit the Warriors with an 11-2 run, and pulled to within 25-24 on a Luke Sonnen jumper 34 ticks before the break.
Sonnen also contributed a pair of free throws in the spurt, while Shane Reese matched that with four points of his own, Light laid in a deuce and Joe Atoigue knocked down a foul shot.
But Northern Lebanon did not score over the opening 4:10 of the second half.
“I wouldn’t want to know how many turnovers we had,” said Bouchette. “If you know, please don’t tell me.
“Three guys I had starting for me were out with injury or sick,” continued Bouchette. “I know it’s that time of the year, but it doesn’t help. Some of our guys who stepped up did OK.”
Northern Lebanon had a tough time adjusting to HGIA’s speed early, and fell into a quick 7-0 hole. But out of a Viking timeout, Ray drilled a three-pointer and Resse hit a jumper to stem the tide.
Ray nailed a trio of treys in an opening period that ended with Hilda Goodling Impact Academy ahead 17-11.
“It’s a tough league,” said Bouchette of Section Three of the Lancaster-Lebanon League. “You’re in a battle every night. I don’t think there’s an easy team. Going into the season, I said if we got eight or ten wins, I’d be happy.”
Hilda Goodling Impact (67)
Northern Lebanon Basketball’s Career Scoring Leaders
1. Sam Light (2014) 1,655 points
2, Travis Ludwig (1990) 1,567 points
3. Pam Ollar (1992) 1,480 points
4. Steve Stager (1988) 1,337 points
5. Cliff Batz (1976) 1,256 points
6. Sandy Herr (1987) 1,187 points
7. Mike Johnson (1985) 1,179 points
8. Beau Moyer (2006) 1,144 points
9. Travis Dresch (2008) 1,133 points
10. Amber Filler (2002) 1,127 points
11. Michelle Shirk (1986) 1,102 points
12. Janelle Adams (2001) 1,096 points
13. Jed Custer (1992) 1,090 points
14. Daryl Hess (1986) 1,069 points