The Vikings overcame injuries and foul trouble to capture a 60-59 comeback win over Conestoga Valley and advance to tonight's 8 p.m. title game against Elco.
The Raiders used a balanced attack to coast past New Covenant Christian 71-45 in the first half of Friday's doubleheader in Fredericksburg.
In the nightcap, Northern Lebanon's Sammy Light dropped 10 points in the fourth quarter, and the hosts outscored the Buckskins 19-13 in the final eight minutes to improve to 5-3 overall. The junior point guard finished with a team-high 21 despite spending nearly half of the night on the bench with foul trouble.
"As long as we get the win, it doesn't even matter to me," said Light, averaging 19.6 per game. "A win is a win."
Sniper Anthony Brown led the way for Conestoga Valley (1-7) with 27 points, a dozen of them coming courtesy of the long ball.
Behind Brown's bombs, the Buckskins led by as many seven in the fourth quarter. That's when Light took control, scoring eight straight points during a decisive 14-4 run. From there, the Vikings made their free throws (7-of-10 in the fourth quarter) to preserve a one-point decision.
"It wasn't pretty. We didn't come to play tonight, not the way we need to come to play every night, especially in our league," said NL boss Gary Bouchette. "To their credit, (CV) played well. I'll give (Brown) props. He broke us down with his penetration and was tough to stop. We had some hands in his face and he was still pulling up."
Brown scored nine in the first quarter to help give the visitors a 16-14 advantage after eight minutes. Meanwhile, Light scored the Vikings first five points before heading to the bench late in the first with two fouls. To make matters worse, senior forward Pat Stevens injured his right ankle while blocking a shot in the second quarter and did not return.
"Today we had foul trouble and injuries. The past couple of weeks have been tough," added Light. "But if you look at our team individually and the skill level of each player, I think we're one of the best in the section and league.
"But it's all about us coming together. This last week, I think we came together and it showed tonight."
Trailing 27-25 at halftime, the clubs traded 2-point scores before combining for five consecutive 3-pointers. Richard Iwuagwu (17 points) gave NL its largest lead of the night at 36-32 with 6:23 left in the third. However, CV reeled off a 14-5 run to close the quarter and take a 46-41 cushion into the fourth.
Tyler Petri extended the Buckskins lead to seven with 6:30 left before buckets by NL's Daymon Long, Isaac Ray and Iwuagwu led to Light's personal eight-point spurt. Neither team made a shot from the field in the final two minutes.
"It seemed like we settled down a little bit, taking more things to rim and getting some buckets inside instead of bombing 3's all the time," Bouchette said. "Then down the stretch, it comes down to who can make shots (free throws). The foul situation kind of hurt them at the end because we were in the double bonus for quite some time, and they just got into the 1-and-1 at the end."
Following two turnovers by Light in the final minute, Michael Cardina nearly won the game for CV with a last-second 3-pointer that rimmed out as time expired.
"Turnovers," Light said with disappointment. "But I'm still young - everyone turns the ball over. I'll get it back." As for Elco (3-5), the Raiders rolled out to 13-point lead at the end of the first quarter and were never threatened. Eleven players scored for Elco, including double digits for Robert Schultz (team-high 13) and Brayden Smith (12).
"We talked about playing the right way at halftime," said Elco coach Brad Conners. "Playing in transition and getting to spots and actually moving the ball, reversing the ball and letting things come instead of forcing them. A game like that, things can get a little rag-tag, and I thought our kids responded by keeping the ball in the right spots and sprinting to spot."
New Covenant's 6-foot-9 center Nate Dawson continued his stellar season with 25 points. Dawson, who joined the 1,000-point club in a 46-41 victory over Veritas Academy on Thursday, dropped nine buckets and made 7-of-8 free throws for the Flames (1-5) and head coach Phil Yorgensen.
"He has soft hands and finishes around the rim," added Conners. "I know all my kids we were digging down on him every time he got it. ... I think he's smart, too. I was impressed. He was pretty good."
New Covenant plays Conestoga Valley at 6:30 p.m. tonight in the consolation game.