Matt Light and Noah Myers each scored 19 points to lead the Little Dutchmen to their fifth win
ANNVILLE - This is the part of rebuilding that gets overlooked.
Discovering how to let go of a losing past, ignore the call of poor habits and relinquish the indifferent shrug post-game in exchange for a fiery hatred for losing.
Over the last two-plus seasons and with exactly 5:26 left in the first quarter Monday, third-year Annville-Cleona boys basketball coach Chris Bradford implored his rebuilding Little Dutchmen, then down 9-0 to Northern Lebanon, to forget. This was no time for program history to repeat itself. And so they broke from the huddle, strung together a few baskets and showcased a champion's response.
Behind Matt Light's game-high 19 points, Annville-Cleona dispatched the Vikings, 59-42, and eclipsed their total number of league wins from a year ago. Light matched a career-high in scoring, helped by nine free throws that stood as a result of the Little Dutchmen's (5-10, 3-6 Lancaster-Lebanon) success in the paint and against full-court pressure. Northern Lebanon (5-9, 2-7) dropped its fourth in a row, despite 14 points from Isaac Bicher.
Annville-Cleona's Noah Myers also scored 19.
"We talked about winning the paint and getting to the line, and we did both of those things. Also as a program, we went 4-0 today," said Bradford, referring to Annville-Cleona's junior high and junior varsity victories. "That may be the first time that we've done that in my three years here. That's great."
The Little Dutchmen led from the 1:20 mark of the first half onward, buoyed by their inside dominance and ball movement. The Vikings also lent a hand with wretched foul shooting that produced a 1-for-9 team mark in the first half and 9-for-21 performance overall. Northern Lebanon closed to within one early in the third quarter, only to be pushed away by Light free throws and second-chance points from Cameron Hoch.
The Vikings' inability to replicate their first-half success with a full-court press severely inhibited a late comeback, as they trailed by multiple possessions for the entire fourth period.
"(It was) a little bit was lack of hustle, a little bit was lack of focus," Northern Lebanon coach Chris George said "and a little bit was just they've got a point guard who's doing a great job and some of their kids made some great plays."
The point guard? That would be Light.
"I think we started to slow it down more in the second half and that's really what won the game," Light said. "We figured out how to get through it."
Julian DeReyes-Kapp supplied the top highlight of the night just before two minutes remained, reeling in a long Light pass in transition. In the midst of getting fouled and completing a 360-spin, DeReyes-Kapp flipped in a layup that extended the home team's edge to a dozen.
A moment of silence was held pregame for Annville-Cleona superintendent Steven Houser, who passed away earlier in the day after an extended battle with cancer. He was 59.
"He was a great guy," Light said of Houser. "I know coach said that we should be playing for him today. And I really think we all pulled together for Dr. Houser."
Annville-Cleona 59, Northern Lebanon 42
Northern Lebanon (42)
C. Light 3 4-6 11, Bicher 6 1-2 14, Biever 0 0-4 0, Yeager 1 0-0 2, Fellows 2 0-0 6, Daub 0 1-2 1, Reese 2 3-7 9. Totals — 14 9-21 42.
Hoch 1 2-2 4, Light 5 9-11 19, Matthews 1 0-0 3, Friday 1 2-2 4, DeReyes-Kapp 4 2-3 10, Myers 9 0-0 19. Totals — 20 15-18 59.
N. Lebanon_ 9_ 12_ 8_ 13 _ — _ 42
A-Cleona_ 9_ 16 _ 12_ 22 — _ 59
3-point goals — NL 5 (Fellows 2, Reese, C.Light, Bicher) AC 4 (Myers 3, Matthews).