All-County picks are also the future
The 2015-16 Lebanon Daily News All-County team is made up of six underclassmen, making the future of county hoops as bright as the present
Take a good look at the Lebanon Daily News All-County Girls Basketball Team.
They're not just the present and the recent past of Lebanon County girls hoops, they're also its future. A blindingly bright future, for that matter.
All six of this year's honorees are underclassmen - four juniors and two sophomores, to be exact - so you'll be able to enjoy their talents on the hardwood next season as well.
But for now, we'll focus on what they just got done accomplishing, and what made them worthy of being all-county for the 2015-16 campaign.
Alyssa Austin, Cedar Crest: A dominating post presence both offensively and defensively, Austin helped the Falcons to the Section One title and a second straight trip to the Class AAAA district semifinals and the PIAA state playoffs.
A formidable shot blocker and consistent low post scoring threat, Austin, a junior center who reached the career 1,000-point mark this season, averaged 16.3 points per game and added a perimeter game to her arsenal this winter, hitting 13 3-pointers along the way.
Together with fellow all-county member Ariel Jones, Austin forms a devastating one-two punch that will likely make Cedar Crest a championship contender again next season.
Ariel Jones, Cedar Crest: Speaking of Jones, Lebanon County's Player of the Year was the speedy, dynamic point guard complement to Austin's interior play, shredding opposing defenses with her quickness and playmaking ability.
A 17.2 point-per-game scorer in her junior season, Jones was at her best in the open floor, but also a threat from the perimeter, as evidenced by her 30 3-point buckets.
Jones had a number of standout efforts, but one of her best was a 24-point outburst in a key early-season win over Section One rival that set McCaskey on the road to the Section One title.
Alexis Hill, Lebanon: A back injury cost Hill six full games and parts of a few others in her sophomore season, but it didn't prevent her from averaging 17.1 points a game and flashing her immense talent and potential.
A relentless rebounder and defender, Hill is still developing as an offensive player and once she fully does so, the sky is the limit.
The Cedars struggled to a 5-17 record this winter and, not surprisingly, none of those wins came when Hill was out of the lineup. Here's hoping for a healthy junior season for the 5-foot-11 forward.
Neesha Pierre, Lebanon Catholic: Arguably the most important cog in the Beavers' drive to an 18th District Three Class A title, sophomore guard Pierre came of age in 2015-16, evolving from an athlete playing basketball into a savvy, productive performer.
A rangy, 5-foot-9 slasher, Pierre averaged 12.6 points per game and pumped in 18 points in Catholic's blowout win over Halifax in the district final.
One of four sophomores in the starting lineup, the best may yet be to come from Pierre, who is also a standout soccer player.
Megan Brandt, Northern Lebanon: A slightly undersized but unyielding force around the basket, junior forward Brandt was one of the main keys to a memorable and magical season for the Vikings, who went 28-4, won their first Section Three title in 30 years and advanced all the way to the Class AAA state quarterfinals.
Scoring at a 13 points-per-game clip, the lanky 5-9 Brandt did her best work in the big moments, most notably in the opening round of the district playoffs against Milton Hershey. In that dramatic overtime win, she dropped in 14 of her 26 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, including a length-of-the-court driving layup as time expired to win the game.
Along with fellow all-county pick Zoe Zerman was also the co-anchor of a stingy NL defense that surrendered just 32 points per game.
Zoe Zerman, Northern Lebanon: The Vikings' heart-and-soul point guard, Zerman, a junior, ran the show superbly while matching Brandt's 13 points-per-game scoring average and growing into a fearless team leader.
Capable of getting into the lane and to the basket at any time, Zerman expanded her shooting range this season as well, knocking down 22 3-pointers while also averaging six trips to the free throw line per game.
There were many highlights for Zerman during the Vikings' thrilling run, but reaching the career 1,000-point mark in the win over Villa Maria in the opening round of the state playoffs was her top moment.
2015-16 Lebanon Daily News All-County Girls Basketball Team
Alyssa Austin, Cedar Crest
Ariel Jones, Cedar Crest
Neesha Pierre, Lebanon Catholic
Alexis Hill, Lebanon
Megan Brandt, Northern Lebanon
Zoe Zerman, Northern Lebanon
Chandelle Keller, Elco
Ryelle Shuey, Elco
Allie Warren, Lebanon Catholic
Liz Voight, Northern Lebanon
Molly Gundermann, Palmyra