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BY JEFF FALK

FREDERICKSBURG – Some say that basketball is the ultimate team sport. It’s supposed to be five players working together as one unit in the pursuit of the same goal.

Zara Zerman is the best player on a very good Northern Lebanon girls’ basketball team.

Now this isn’t the story of giving one player the ball, getting out of the way and allowing her to do her thing. This is the story of an player excelling within the team concept, one of a group feeding off another’s will, one of an individual making those around her better.

In some ways, Zerman’s performance for the Vikings this season defies the logic of how the game of basketball should be played. In other ways, it defines it.

So how does the senior point guard do it? Through leadership and decision making, and the desire and knowledge of how and when to get others involved.

But perhaps the best thing about what Zerman does on the court is that she does it instinctively and intuitively, with little or no fore-thought.

“I guess my role is to just keep my composure,” said Zerman. “I think my teammates trust me. They know when I’m calm, they can be calm and focused. We all know our roles. Each person knows what they can and can’t do, so our roles become situational.

“These moments are what I live for,” continued Zerman. “I do basketball all year round, and when I get to share these moments with my teammates it’s really special.”

With teammates feeding off her, Zerman’s Vikings have enjoyed an absolutely splendid campaign. Northern Lebanon is 20-3 overall and, as the number-two seed, is set to host the winner between Bishop McDevitt and Schuylkill Valley on Friday, February 21st in the quarterfinal round of the District Three Class AAAA postseason.

The Vikings are guaranteed to play at least two games in that tournament.

“Before the season started, my expectations were low,” said Zerman. “Just because we’re really small. We play hard and do things the right way, but sometimes other teams are bigger and better. But look at us now. Who cares about height now?

“I think we all just care so much that it pours out on the court,” Zerman continued. “We don’t want to disappoint him (Head coach Ken Battistelli). We care for each other. We care about the game.”

Not only is Zerman the best girls’ basketball player in Lebanon County, she’s also one of the top performers in the Lancaster-Lebanon League and all of District Three. She averages 22 points per game, makes free throws at a 79 percent rate, drills threes, rebounds, handles the ball and plays defense.

And those are just the measurable things she brings to the Vikings.

“I would say that defense has been the key to our success,” said Zerman. “We can all play defense. It’s not like offense where everybody has different skills. I think defense drives our offense. Sometimes, that keeps us going.

“I think when other teams look at us they think we’re these little farmer girls,” Zerman continued. “And there’s only six of us. It’s not like we have a deep bench.”

On the court, Zerman is an extension of her coach, the emotional, the focused, the intense Battistelli. Her teammates want to play for Zerman much in the same way that Zerman wants to play for Battistelli.

“He cares about basketball so much,” said Zerman. “He probably doesn’t sleep during basketball season, which is probably why he is so crazy. He watches everything we do and he wants to fix our flaws. He knows our potential and what we can be.

“At the beginning of the season, he was hard on our defense,” Zerman continued. “He knew that defense was the way we were going to win. He even said that we were the worst defensive team he’s had. Now he says we’re the best defensive team he’s had. Looking at it now, he was probably trying to motivate us – and it worked.”

On February 4th in Mount Joy, Zerman became the Northern Lebanon girls’ basketball program’s all-time leading scorer when she poured in a season-high 40 points in a 60-46 Lancaster-Lebanon Section Four triumph at Donegal. The win was also the 200th of Battistelli’s career.

“Everyone was kind of ‘uggh’ on offense, and the defense was ‘uggh’ too,” said Zerman. “I still don’t know how I scored 40. I guess I just needed to. We knew it could be his (Battistelli’s) 200th win. And we knew if we would’ve lost, he would be mad, because we shouldn’t lose to Donegal.

“It was a dream come true,” added Zerman. “It’s (being the Vikings’ all-time leading scorer) something my family talks about all the time. (Older sister) Zoe is so happy for me. She’s so supportive.”

It doesn’t seem like all that long ago when Zerman was a wide-eyed freshman on a Northern Lebanon team led by Zoe Zerman and Megan Brandt that captured the 2016-17 District Three championship. Zara was a role player on that team, but one who was watching and learning.

“My freshman year was so exciting, just to be able to play with my sister,” said Zerman. “Going into games, I knew I was filling a role. Those girls knew how to play. What I took from that season was that it’s possible to win the section and to be district champions. They were bigger than us. But they weren’t that big, and they played defense and worked hard.”

In many ways, Zerman also learned what it takes to be a leader from that group. She was passed a Viking torch, and now prepares to pass that same torch herself.

After she does, Zerman will join Zoe at Division Two Kutztown University, where she will further both her basketball and academic careers.

“Growing up with Zoe, she was a leader and I followed,” said Zerman. “When she was gone, I was the point guard and I had to be the leader. If I can lead, it’ll help everyone else on the team.

“I would say I’m more confident and relaxed now,” Zerman added. “Even last year, I was nervous and made bad decisions.”

For Zerman and the Vikings, there is work still to be done. But no matter what happens the rest of the way, their improbable season will be remembered and used for inspiration.

“I went to get to Giant Center,” said Zerman. “I think we only need to win two games at home (in the winner’s bracket) and we get to go. We just can’t come out flat. We have to play defense the way we’ve been playing defense all season.

“I don’t have to think about the end,” concluded Zerman. “I don’t want to think about the end. I only have to think about it when it happens. We don’t know when it’s going to happen.”

To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com.

2019-20 Northern Lebanon Girls’ Basketball Results

DateOpponentsOutcomes
12/06
6:45 pm
Ephrata
Northern Lebanon
at Northern Lebanon Tip-Off Tournament
43
48

Nonleague
12/07
7:00 pm
Palmyra
Northern Lebanon
at Northern Lebanon Tip-Off Tournament
29
41

Nonleague
12/10
7:30 pm
West Perry
at Northern Lebanon
19
35

Nonleague
12/13
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Lampeter-Strasburg
38
26

League
12/16
7:30 pm
Cocalico
at Northern Lebanon
31
37

League
12/18
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Garden Spot
48
17

League
12/20
7:30 pm
Solanco
at Northern Lebanon
19
35

League
12/27
6:00 pm
New Oxford
Northern Lebanon
at Lebanon Holiday Tournament
27
45

Nonleague
12/28
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
McCaskey
at Lebanon Holiday Tournament
44
41

Nonleague
1/03
7:30 pm
Lancaster Catholic
at Northern Lebanon
50
47

League
1/04
2:30 pm
East Pennsboro
Northern Lebanon
at Northern Lebanon Middle School
22
44

Nonleague
1/08
6:30 pm
Middletown
at Northern Lebanon
15
38

Nonleague
1/10
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Elco
53
45

League
1/14
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Octorara
54
17

League
1/17
7:30 pm
Donegal
at Northern Lebanon
39
65

League
1/18
2:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Tulpehocken
Postponed
Nonleague
1/21
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Lancaster Catholic
35
42

League
1/23
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Manheim Central
47
35

League
1/25
4:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Annville-Cleona
47
12

Nonleague
1/28
7:30 pm
Elco
at Northern Lebanon
35
37

League
1/31
7:30 pm
Octorara
at Northern Lebanon
30
59

League
2/04
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Donegal
60
46

League
2/06
7:30 pm
Northern Lebanon
Warwick
at Garden Spot
43
32

Playoff
2/08
7:00 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Solanco
32
41

Playoff
2/21
7:00 pm
TBD
at Northern Lebanon

Playoff

PIAA District Three

Final Class AAAA Power Rankings

AAAASchool W L T Rating TWP OWP TWPW OWPW TWPL OWPL
1***Lancaster Catholic19-3-0 0.770048 0.878099 0.637985 21.3 305.9 3.0 173.6
2***Northern Lebanon19-2-0 0.717449 0.917927 0.472421 21.3 214.6 1.9 239.6
3***Eastern York16-6-0 0.691892 0.779736 0.584527 17.7 283.7 5.0 201.7
4***Susquehanna Township17-5-0 0.693070 0.814894 0.544175 19.2 257.2 4.4 215.4
5***Bermudian Springs18-4-0 0.690098 0.820276 0.530991 17.8 256.2 3.9 226.3
6***Wyomissing17-5-0 0.640972 0.799539 0.447167 17.4 201.7 4.4 249.3
7***Bishop McDevitt10-9-0 0.605559 0.588859 0.625970 11.1 262.3 7.8 156.7
8***Fleetwood13-8-0 0.600233 0.676960 0.506457 14.3 223.6 6.8 217.9
9***Kennard Dale12-10-0 0.597722 0.604545 0.589382 13.3 284.2 8.7 198.0
10***Schuylkill Valley14-8-0 0.562965 0.671171 0.430713 14.9 194.0 7.3 256.4
11Eastern Lebanon County11-11-0 0.554537 0.550228 0.559803 12.1 266.6 9.9 209.6
12Big Spring9-11-0 0.509030 0.505076 0.513862 10.0 221.5 9.8 209.6
13Littlestown11-11-0 0.502754 0.497685 0.508949 10.8 244.6 10.9 236.0
14Boiling Springs11-11-0 0.498550 0.536866 0.451720 11.7 211.5 10.1 256.7
15James Buchanan9-13-0 0.466487 0.438389 0.500829 9.3 226.5 11.9 225.8
16West Perry7-15-0 0.393886 0.325000 0.478081 7.2 225.2 14.9 245.9
17Oley Valley8-14-0 0.386301 0.344186 0.437774 7.4 199.8 14.1 256.6
18Middletown Area5-16-0 0.382454 0.253071 0.540588 5.2 247.4 15.2 210.3
19Hamburg Area6-16-0 0.371387 0.295238 0.464459 6.2 216.0 14.8 249.0
20Octorara Area2-17-0 0.324956 0.123324 0.571394 2.3 235.9 16.4 177.0

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