The host Vikings and perennial power Cougars each cruised to easy opening-round victories in the Northern Lebanon tip-off event on Friday night. They'll meet tonight at 7 for the championship.

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Nobody expected the Palmyra and Northern Lebanon girls basketball teams to be bad this season. Far from it. Too much talent and too well-coached for that.

But this good, this soon? Not even the Cougars and Vikings themselves could have anticipated what came about on Friday night.

Or maybe they could have.

At any rate, the county rivals each enjoyed sparkling 2015-16 season debuts in the opening round of Northern Lebanon's tip-off tournament.

Palmyra, retooling after losing four irreplaceable starters from last season's state semifinal team, rolled over Pine Grove 63-34 behind a balanced effort led by 15 points apiece from senior Molly Gundermann and freshman Olivia Richardson.

Meanwhile, Northern Lebanon, expected to contend in L-L Section Three, looked like world beaters, overcoming a slow start to pound York County rep Dover 64-23 behind a 19-point outburst from sophomore guard Liz Voight.

The twin blowout wins sets up an intriguing all-county title game clash at 7 p.m. tonight. Pine Grove and Dover will match up in the consolation game at 5.

"Everybody's treating this group like last year's team, and that's absolutely wonderful in my opinion," said Palmyra coach Ron Berman. "Because we obviously built up that tradition. No one expects us to be last year's team, but we do expect to play as well as we can play.

"We're not anywhere close to where we want to be, but they're working hard and they're a great group."

Ken Battistelli, Northern Lebanon's head coach, saw his team take a different route to the final than Palmyra, which sprinted to a 12-2 first-quarter lead and never lost control of the contest the rest of the way.

The Vikes stumbled a bit in their start, trailing 14-7 with 1:04 left in the opening quarter thanks to 11 quick points from Dover guard Julie Fox.

But from there, NL turned up the intensity led by Voight, Megan Brandt (17 points) and Zoe Zerman (10 points) and buried Dover with a 31-4 run to close the half.

Game, set and match, Northern Lebanon.

"The start was pretty bad," Battistelli chuckled. "But we really got hot. The offense fed the defense, the defense fed the offense. We have some talented players, and if everybody gets hot we've got some scorers. After we got the ball rolling everyone got together and we fed off each other."

Palmyra, which also got 10 points from Kailey Werkheiser and eight 3-pointers collectively, figures to present a formidable challenge for Northern Lebanon in the tourney championship game. And vice versa.

"Every year they're different and the same," Battistelli said of Palmyra's consistent winning ways. "I've heard they were gonna be down and I said, 'You're nuts, they don't have a down'. They just have different faces. I don't know how we're gonna do, but that's all right. It's early and we get to play one of the best teams in the state. That's a good opportunity."

"I've got tremendous respect for Northern Lebanon. Zerman and Brandt are just two outstanding players," said Berman. "It'll be a tough matchup for us. We achieved goal one, now it's goal two. It would be nice to win."

Palmyra 63, Pine Grove 34

Pine Grove (34)

Cayleen Conrad 2 0-0 4, R. Edge 4 2-2 10, Shiffer 3 2-2 9, Carlee Conrad 1 2-2 5, M. Edge 3 0-0 6 . Totals — 13 6-6 34 .

Palmyra (63)

Gundermann 5 3-4 15, Stovall 3 0-2 7, Werkheiser 4 0-0 10. Baldo 1 0-0 2, Carmo 1 4-4 6, Schultz 3 0-0 8, Richardson 5 4-5 15, Bowman 0 0-0 0, McLucas 0 0-0 0 Totals — .22 11-13 63

Pine Grove _ 2 _ 11 _ 11 _ 10 _ — _ 34

Palmyra _ 12 _ 14 _ 20 _ 17 _ — _ 63

3-point goals — PG: Shiffer, Carlee Conrad, P: Gundermann 2, Werkheiser 2, Stovall, Richardson, Schultz 2.

Northern Lebanon 64, Dover 23

Dover (23)

Fox 5 1-2 15, Wright 2 0-0 4, Kohr 0 0-2 0, Rajah Fink 1 0-0 2, Hayes 0 0-0 0, Coley 0 0-0 0, Woodyard 1 0-1 2. Totals — .9 1-2 23

Northern Lebanon (64)

Ray 2 1-2 5, Voight 7 2-2 19, Brandt 7 3-4 17, Kintzer 2 2-2 6, Wentling 1 0-0 2, Mauser 1 1-2 3, Kelliher 0 0-0 0, Zerman 2 6-10 10, Lessing 1 0-0 2. Totals — .23 15-22 64.

Dover _ 14 _ 4 _ 3 _ 2 _ — _ 23

Northern Lebanon _ 13 _ 25 _ 17 _ 9 _ — _ 64

3-point goals — D: Fox 4  NL: Voight 3

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