Northern Lebanon s Isaac Ray works against the defense of Manheim Central s Evan Stauffer during Friday night s Section Three contest in Fredericksburg.
Northern Lebanon s Isaac Ray works against the defense of Manheim Central s Evan Stauffer during Friday night s Section Three contest in Fredericksburg. Ray finished with 12 points in the Viking win. (LEBANON DAILY NEWS GLEN GRAY)
FREDERICKSBURG - Santa Claus climbed out of the Northern Lebanon student section at halftime Friday night and tossed up a horrible half-court airball.

Obviously, Old Saint Nick wore the wrong attire. If the Kris Kringle impersonator had donned a blue-and gold jersey, he probably would have delivered. It was just that kind of night for the Vikings.

Northern Lebanon steamrolled Manheim Central, 65-45, in Lancaster-Lebanon League Section Three boys' action Friday night in Fredericksburg.

NL stormed the Barons from the opening tip, rolling to an 11-2 lead in the first quarter. The hosts never let up, either, taking a 29-7 edge to the break before emptying the bench with a 30-point lead in the fourth.

Senior Pat Stevens stabilized the Vikings' multi-dimensional attack with 16 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks. The 6-foot-4 forward was one of four NL players to reach double digits, joining Sam Light (19 points), Isaac Ray (12) and Richard Iwuagwu (12).

"We're pulling together. The first two games of the season we didn't play as a team," Stevens said. "Now, everybody is working well together. We're going to be a tough team as the season goes."

The victory snaps a two-game slide for Gary Bouchette's club and lifts it into a third-place tie with Central (6-2 overall and 2-2 section) in Section Three. NL (4-3 and 2-2) entered Friday's affair on a two-game slide after dropping a 50-48 decision to Lancaster Catholic.

"We were right there, we had a slow start," Bouchette said of Wednesday's two-point setback. "We played well, but not well enough to win. ... We need to be continually improving."

They can't play much better than they did against the Barons, who missed 13 consecutive shots to start the contest. Central's first bucket came with two seconds left in the first quarter on Tony Staffieri's buzzer-beating layup.

"We played some tough defense," said Bouchette. "Even in the second half, they had to work hard for all the shots they got."

Meanwhile on the Vikings' end, Jon Lum drained a short jumper to make it 2-0 after 30 seconds. Stevens went into beast mode from there.

The senior finished the first quarter with five points, six rebounds and two blocks. His 3-pointer with 2:00 remaining made it 11-0 and forced Manheim to call its second timeout.

"Our shots were falling for the most part," Bouchette added. "I told them on the board before the game, 'The team with the most rebounds wins the game.'"

Ray, a silky sophomore, continued the rout in the second when he dropped his second long ball at 6:16 for a 14-2 cushion. Next up, Light, the L-L's reigning scoring champ, heated up.

The Vikings  Richard Iwuagwu lets a shot fly over the outstretched arm of Baron defender Tony Stafferi on Friday night. Iwuagwu finished with 12 points for
The Vikings Richard Iwuagwu lets a shot fly over the outstretched arm of Baron defender Tony Stafferi on Friday night. Iwuagwu finished with 12 points for NL. (LEBANON DAILY NEWS GLEN GRAY)
After shooting 0-for-5 in the first quarter, the flashy junior hounded the Barons' ballhandlers and hit the boards hard in the second.

"He's not going to be there every night or every quarter. Other guys stepped up," Bouchette said.

Stevens, averaging 14 points per game, closed out the first half with an offensive rebound put back to make it 29-7.

"Rebounding, contesting shots, defense, playing hard and intensity," Stevens said, explaining his on-the-court approach. "We don't really need the scoring."

The teams combined for 43 points in a back-and-forth third quarter as Central thawed out. Evan Stauffer scored nine points in the third on his way to a team-high 11, while Light matched with nine for Northern Lebanon.

In the fourth, NL cleared the benches at 5:28, leading 61-31.

Northern Lebanon has now won six of the past seven contests against Central, including a 57-49 overtime thriller last season. The Vikings take a weeklong break before returning to action next Friday in Fredericksburg against Conestoga Valley.