Girls Hoops Notebook: Passing out mid-season awards
Now that we've reached roughly the halfway point of the high school girls basketball regular season - and it's been quite a successful one for Lebanon County teams thus far - it's time to take a look back at all that's happened to make the first month-plus so eventful.
And what better way to do that than by handing out some mid-season awards and having a little fun along the way? OK, so there may be better ways, but we're gonna go this route anyway.
It'll be just like a Hollywood awards show minus the political speeches.
Boom. Let's go.
Ariel Jones, Cedar Crest
There's a ton of talent in the county this season, but no one has been better on a nightly basis thus far than Jones, the Falcons' speed demon senior point guard.
All she's done while leading Cedar Crest to a 13-0 start is average 19.8 points per game while being unstoppable driving the lane and in transition, knock down 21 3-pointers and shoot a sizzling 87 percent from the free throw line. Oh, and she's completely unselfish, always looking to set up an open teammate for a bucket.
Great, great player and the Lancaster-Lebanon League's best in this humble opinion.
Zoe Zerman and Megan Brandt, Northern Lebanon
Zerman and Brandt, or Brandt and Zerman if you prefer, aren't the whole show on a tight-knit, balanced Northern Lebanon team, but the whole production wouldn't be the same without them.
They are the physical and emotional catalysts for the hard-nosed Vikings, who are off to a 12-1 start and looking primed for another deep postseason run. Appropriately enough, the two both average close to 14 points per game and are members of the career 1,000-point club.
In short, they go together like peanut butter and jelly, another great combination.
Best Coaching Job
Jim Donmoyer, Cedar Crest
With apologies to Northern Lebanon's Ken Battistelli, Lebanon Catholic's Patti Hower and Palmyra's Mary Manlove, all of whom have done exceptional jobs so far, it's hard to argue with undefeated.
And Donmoyer's gotten the Falcons to this point of the season unscathed, so he wins. Certainly it helps Donmoyer's cause to have two star players in Jones and senior center Alyssa Austin, but the Falcons' boss has done an excellent job of getting the most out of his role players - namely Rachel Witherite, Raven Morgan, Gracen Donmoyer, Jade Rolon and Kelsey Guth. You don't get to 13-0 with just two players contributing, no matter how good they are. It takes good coaching, too, and Donmoyer has provided it.
Alexis Hill, Lebanon Catholic
If you can find a player in the county who plays harder and with more energy and athleticism than Hill, let me know. It's like watching a tornado unleashed inside a gymnasium.
Unfortunately, there isn't a stat category for hustle/efforts plays, but if there was Hill's would be even more impressive than the 19.1 points per contest she's currently averaging.
She's still got a few rough edges on her game that need to be smoothed out, but all things considered you'd want the junior forward on your side in a game you had to have. Or any other game, for that matter.
Most Surprising Team
Lacking in experience and getting used to a new head coach after longtime leader Ron Berman retired, the Cougars figured to endure some growing pains as a program this season.
Uh, nope. Sophomores Amelia Baldo and Olivia Richardson have come of age quickly, as has freshman Annabelle Copeland, and head coach Mary Manlove has Palmyra in the thick of the Mid-Penn Keystone Division title race at 9-5 overall and 6-2 in the division.
No matter what happens from here, the Cougars have done themselves proud and are clearly headed in the right direction.
Unsung Hero Award
Amber Kintzer, Northern Lebanon
An undersized senior forward who averages five points a game, Kintzer is proof positive that statistics and measurables like height don't tell the whole story of a player's value to their team.
And make no mistake about it, Kintzer is immensely valuable to the Vikings. A fierce defender and rebounder, Kintzer embodies the Vikings' all-for-the-team spirit and determination with her ability and willingness to do the little things.
She's also developed a reliable mid-range jump shot that has only enhanced her value to her team. Every good team needs a player like Kintzer.
Neesha Pierre, Lebanon Catholic
Admittedly, a lot of kids could probably lay claim to this honor, but Pierre gets it for her willingness to take on a new position for the good of the team.
An athletic '2' guard slasher on the Beavers' latest district title team last season, unforeseen circumstances forced Pierre to switch to point guard this season.It's not her natural position and it's hurt her scoring average a bit, but Pierre has adapted admirably, as evidenced by the fact that the Beavers are tied for first place in Section 3.