Rivalry games have a way of bringing out the best, and at times, the worst, in teams.
Players give their all for their teams and their school on a nightly basis, but when it comes to Annville-Cleona and Northern Lebanon, in any sport, there is another level of intensity. Unlike previous seasons, the teams are now in the same section (3), so the stakes are even a bit higher.
Such was the case Friday night, as the Dutchmen hosted the Vikings for the first of their two matchups this season and earned a 56-49 victory.
Annville-Cleona got double-digit performances from Noah Myers (18), Cameron Hock (12), and Don Friday (10) along with nine points from Dashaun Archer in the victory over their back-yard rivals.
The Dutchmen rode a huge second half in which they outscored the Vikings 36-26 and forced some turnovers, including a pair of key steals by Archer in the third quarter that propelled the Dutchmen to a 35-28 lead with one quarter to play.
Archer transferred to A-C in the fall, well before the season started, so he’d heard a bit about the rivalry before Friday’s game. But he listened to the words of his coach above all else.
“They told me a little bit about it, but coach said we need to look at every game," Archer said. "We are looking at every game to be a big game.”
A-C coach Chris Bradford said, “I’ve been in their ear that it’s no different than any other game, but it is. You can see some of the mistakes we made were because of the fire and emotion that we had coming out.”
Meanwhile, Northern Lebanon, led by Caleb Light’s 19 points, never backed down, even down the stretch when it cut the lead to three with 2:50 to go. But Bradford’s club responded and finished out the game for its second straight victory over the Vikings.
“We’re 1-0 in the section, but we can’t afford to enjoy it too much right now because we have a very good Columbia team coming in here Monday," Bradford said, "but it’s nice to win on a Friday night in your own gym against a rival.”
Going forward, Bradford hopes to get bigger contributions in the paint from Myers and Isaac Burris.
“We still haven’t gotten the big guys going, and we’re not getting them in the best position yet,” he said. “We’ll continue to try and work on that.”
With some tough teams on their schedule, getting those big guys going and playing every game as if it is a rivalry game could pay huge dividends to the Dutchmen as they look to play in the postseason. With a 4-0 start, that is a very good possibility, but as the team keeps hearing, it’s one game at a time.