The Vikings hammered county-rival Annville-Cleona 82-43 in a Lancaster-Lebanon League Section Three-Four crossover in Fredericksburg.
Four NL players reached double digits, while 10 scored at least a bucket in the 39-point blowout. Junior point guard Sam Light, the reigning L-L League scoring champ, led the way with 19 points despite spending a large chunk of the second half on the bench. Pat Stevens (14 points), Richard Iwuagwu (13) and Christian Morales (11) also contributed to the Vikings' balanced attack.
"Tonight we played as a team. We played well and shot well," said NL head coach Gary Bouchette. "The first time we didn't play as a team. We were trying to score one-on-one, and we didn't shoot well. It was ugly."
It was just six days ago that the Dutchmen knocked off Northern Lebanon 52-49 in the championship game of the A-C Tip-Off Tournament. You could never tell on Friday.
After Zach Weaber's short jumper gave the visitors a 2-0 lead, Light answered with back-to-back baskets to put NL ahead for good at 4-2. From there, the entire Vikings' starting lineup got into the act. Light, Stevens, Iwuagwu, Jon Lum and Isaac Ray all scored in the first eight minutes to give the hosts a 16-8 cushion.
"We were down a body or two, but we don't want to use that as an excuse," said A-C head coach Justin Edwards.
Playing without sniper Paxson Hayes, the Dutchmen never recovered after the first quarter. By halftime, the helter-skelter pace had the visitors on the ropes, trailing 38-17.
Iwuagwu had a tremendous second stanza, flying all over the court. The 5-foot-11 junior scored 11 points in the quarter, including drilling a trio of 3-pointers. He also got the Vikings' "Blue Zone" wound up when he dove into the crowd for a loose ball at 4:45. Next, he immediately sprinted towards the basket, where Light found him underneath to make it 27-15.
"(Iwuagwu) is a quiet leader. He's not very vocal but he does all the little things that a team needs," explained Bouchette. "Defensive stops, diving into the crowd for a loose ball, taking a charge - he does all the things you don't necessarily see in the box score."
Iwuagwu continued his all-out effort in third when he stationed himself in front of Weaber to draw a bone-jarring charge. By then, the Vikings were leading 52-25 with 3:24 left in the third.
"I play my role," said Iwuagwu. "Coach expects me to be a shutdown defender, and I take it as a challenge."
On the offensive end, Stevens dominated the interior in the third, racking up nine of his 14 points in the quarter.
"(Light) has an amazing work ethic. He's that gym rat, basketball 24/7," explained Iwuagwu. "He's also the reason I am the defender I am. I haven't met someone yet with Sam's abilities."
Even the Vikings reserves had their way against A-C in the fourth. Morales scored nine in the stanza, including converting Jared Thomas' behind-the-back feed to set off the crowd for a final time with 1:02 left.
"There are always things to work on," added Bouchette. "I would have liked to see us take it to the basket more. But we played as a team, and I've seen improvement every game. That's all a coach can ask for."
The victory lifts Northern Lebanon to 3-1 on the season and 6-19 against A-C since 2001. The defeat marked the second straight loss for Annville-Cleona (2-2), which also dropped a contest to Bible Baptist. Weaber led the Dutchmen with 13 points and Derek Sanders added 11.
"Games like this, you have to flush it and move on," added Edwards. "You can't stand around and feel sorry for yourself. We have some tough games next week and (the opponents) will be happy to take advantage."
The Dutchmen host Elco on Monday at 7:30 p.m. The Vikings travel to Lancaster Mennonite on Monday for a 7:30 p.m. tip.