About the only thing different with this year’s Lebanon Catholic girls basketball team is the roster.
Chasing down District 3 title number 19 for their coach Patti Hower, the Beavers watched the first half of the game before theirs at Lower Dauphin on Tuesday night, then left for the locker room with the swagger and confidence of the top seed.
But the Beavers reemerged wearing their away blues because the power rankings slotted them into the No. 4 seed despite their victory over No. 1 Linden Hall earlier in the season. And despite a sloppier-than-normal first quarter, the Beavers (19-7) punched their ticket into Friday’s final at Giant Center with a 53-31 victory over the Lions.
The missed shots didn’t worry Hower as much as one might think, though.
She said, “We were getting them, so we felt as if we just needed to focus on finishing, but we have to make those things early against a good team.”
Hower’s squad did get things going. The Beavers were led offensively by Alexis Hill’s 18 points. Jasmine Turner (14) and Neesha Pierre (13) joined her in double digits.
Even more impressive was the defensive effort turned in by Lebanon Catholic. Players in blue were all over the court, quite literally. Hustle plays by Hill and Mars, for example, to save loose balls turned into points on the board.
“That’s what you have to do if you want to beat the better teams - you have to go after those loose balls,” Hower said.
With the semifinal victory behind them, Lebanon Catholic’s sights now turn to Giant Center on Friday afternoon (3:15) against No. 2 Halifax (23-3), when Hower’s juniors will set their sights on a third straight district title, which would be her 19th. But not everyone in that locker room knows what it feels like to lift that trophy.
Pierre said, “Each one she said is special to her, but it would mean a great deal to us because I know Alexis and Jasmine haven’t won a district title yet. So it would be a big deal because it would be our third in a row and their first, so there’s a lot of reasons for us to win another one.”
The way they are playing together, it’s sometimes hard, even for Hower, to remember that not everyone has been there.
“We just talked about going to the Giant Center and how we’re comfortable there and she (Hill) raised her hand and said, ‘Well some of us haven’t been there.'”
The plan is to get there in plenty of time to make Hill and Turner as comfortable as the rest of the team before they square off against Halifax.
“Halifax has a strong team; they have two 1,000 point scorers,” Hower said. “We’re going to try to up-tempo it because that’s our game. Our defense creates our offense.”
Either way, Lebanon Catholic is once again heading back to states, but up first on the list is that District 3 title.
“It’s one game at a time,” said Pierre. “We see states as our goal, but we take each team one at a time.”