Defense of Zerman, Brandt key to big win for NL girls; Crest, Elco boys rebound

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Four takeaways from the latest in Lebanon County high school hoops:

Playing both ends of the floor: The Northern Lebanon girls' basketball team's biggest win of a feel-good 9-0 start to the season came on Monday night in a 55-46 win over Cocalico that served as a battle of unbeaten Section Three rivals.

Impressive aspects of the win were numerous, including the 45 combined points put up by junior catalysts Zoe Zerman and Megan Brandt. But despite that prodigious point production - Zerman poured in 31 points, Brandt hit for 14 - scoring was the only the second-most important thing Zerman-Brandt duo provided to the win.

The two also took on the most important defensive assignments of the night, guarding Cocalico's potent forward tandem of Emily White (Zerman) and Megan Gingrich (Brandt). The result was just 21 combined points for White and Gingrich, well below the 35 points per game they were averaging heading in. And just three of those points - all from White - came in the first half, when Northern Lebanon took permanent control of the contest.

Great players produce at both ends of the floor, and Zerman and Brandt certainly did on Monday night.

Hill wreaks havoc for Lebanon girls: Speaking of defense, the Lebanon High girls got plenty of it - as usual - from sophomore forward Alexis Hill on Wednesday night in the Cedars' 50-34 win over Solanco that ended a three-game losing streak.

Perched at the top of the Cedars' zone defense, the rangy 5-foot-9 Hill spent the night driving Solanco ballhandlers to distraction with her quickness and anticipation, indirectly or directly forcing a slew of turnovers that ignited Lebanon's fastbreak and got it back in the win column.

The Cedars have some growing and improving to do yet, but future opponents should be wary if they see Hill patrolling the perimeter passing lanes.

"As active as she is, sometimes we have to wrangle her in because she gets a little overanxious," Lebanon coach Ben Brewer said. "But with her speed and quickness, sometimes it doesn't take her getting a steal, it's just the intimidation factor with her long arms. It forces the offense to run their sets from further out than they want. That's fun to watch."

Crest, Elco boys bounce back: The true measure of a team's character is not how it handles success, but how it handles adversity. The Cedar Crest and Elco boys basketball teams thankfully haven't experienced anything too terribly tough thus far, but they have responded nicely to the difficulties they have faced.

For Cedar Crest, losses to McCaskey and Central York on  consecutive nights last week were a bit disheartening, but didn't carry over to this week, which featured bounce-back wins over Hempfield and Manheim Township that kept it in the thick of the Section One title race.

And in Myerstown, the Elco boys saw their unbeaten start to the season unceremoniously halted by a 20-point loss to Lampeter-Strasburg on Monday night, but bounced right back on Wednesday to rout Manheim Central and improve to 8-1.

As is the case for most teams, more ups and downs likely await Cedar Crest and Elco, but based on their efforts this week they're more than prepared to deal with what lies ahead.

Palmyra's Yetter in the zone: Great scorers on occasion find their way into 'The Zone', that wonderful place when the basket suddenly looks gigantic and anything sent in its direction finds the mark without interruption.

Palmyra senior guard Austin Yetter paid a visit on Tuesday night, pouring in 28 points in the Cougars' 58-46 over Hershey and Villanova recruit Dylan Painter.

Included in Yetter's outburst was unconscious 3-point shooting that saw the Cougar standout connect on eight of nine attempts from beyond the arc.

Time spent in the zone can be fleeting, but after that kind of performance don't be surprised if Yetter makes a return before season's end.

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