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ANNVILLE - There are plenty of reasons why the Northern Lebanon girls are 11-0, the only unbeaten basketball team in Lebanon County and ranked No. 4 out of 35 District 3 Class AAA teams.

They're fundamentally sound in areas such as defense, rebounding, ball handling, shot selection and foul shooting. On any given night, they can be well above average.

On Tuesday in the championship game of the A-C Lady Dutchmen Holiday Tournament against Littlestown, they had to rely primarily on the first three virtues. The Thunderbolts, who held Annville-Cleona to 13 points the night before, had the same chilling effect on the Vikings' offense in a rather pedestrian 26-10 title game.

A win is a win, and coach Ken Battistelli and his team were happy to escape with one, but it probably won't do much to enhance their ranking in the district, behind No. 1 Berks Catholic, Fleetwood and Bishop McDevitt.

"Tonight, we were our own worst enemy," said NL junior guard Zoe Zerman, who was held 11 points below her average of 15 ppg. "They played off us and then clogged the middle. We weren't patient enough."

Luckily for the Vikes, junior forward Megan Brandt wasn't undone by the Littlestown defense. Brandt scored 18 points, on top of her 16-point performance the night before against Halifax. The two-night total won her easily the tournament's MVP award.

Littlestown (5-5) didn't do much offensively, after working feverishly to get the ball over half court. The Bolts were held scoreless in the first quarter and their only points during a 14-3 first half were three of four free throws by Jill Gauthier. For the game, they made three field goals.

The outcome was never in doubt, despite the Vikes being to held to seven or fewer points in each quarter.

Battistelli said the learning curve is still expanding for his young team, which has no seniors.

"We have two starters (sophomores Cassiah Ray and Lizzie Voight), who are very inexperienced on the varsity level," Battistelli said. "Whenever somebody throws something new at us, like Littlestown's soft defense, we can struggle a little bit. Tonight, we had to rely mostly on our defense."

The Bolts' tendency was to back off until the ball went into the middle, then surround. The Vikes never got into a groove of pulling up and hitting jump shots. They kept trying to attack the hoop, which usually ran them into trouble. Eight of Brandt's 18 came at the free throw line in a game that grew increasingly physical.

Zerman joined Brandt on the all-tournament team, along with Brynn Miller of Halifax, Meredith Bachman of A-C and Littletown's Gauthier.

Halifax 50, Annville-Cleona 46

Miller made three of four clutch free throws in the final 24 seconds to send the Wildcats (6-4) to victory in the consolation game.

After scoring just 13 points the night before against Littlestown, the Dutchmen (2-8) were much more proficient in a second half that remained close throughout. Guard Meredith Bachman hit back-to-back baskets to put A-C in front 40-39 with 3:14 left to play.
But behind Miller's game-high 14 points and 10 from Brianna Turner, the Wildcats pulled out the win.

The Dutchmen were led by 13 points each by Bachman and Addi Hayes, who had two 3-pointers, including one with 24.8 seconds left that pulled A-C to within 47-46. Miller than iced the game from the line.

"We played much better than we did the night before against Littlestown," A-C coach Roger Hayes said. "We shot the ball much better. Halifax was a decent club. They've had some nice wins. All we can do is take what positives we can from this and move forward."

Northern Lebanon 26, Littlestown 10 

Littlestown (10)

Janelle Kress 0 0-0 0, Jill Gauthier 1 3-4 5, Micheala Yealy 1 0-0 2, Aley Abate 0 0-2 0, Alexa Morgan 0 0-0 0, Erica Noel 0 0-0 0, Lindsey Snyder 0 0-0 0,   Emily Lanahan 1 1-2 . Totals — 3 4-8 10.

Northern Lebanon (26)

Megan Brandt 5 8-9 18, Zoe Zerman 2 0-0 4, Lizzie Voight 1 0-0 2, Amber Kintzer 0 0-20 0, Cassiah Ray 0 0-0 0, Jenna Wentling 1 0-0 2, Emma Kelliher 0 0-0 0, haris Gatoura 0 0-0 0. Totals — 9 8-11 26.

Littlestown _ 0 _ 3 _ 2 _ 5 _ — _ 10

N. Lebanon _ 7 _ 7 _ 6 _ 6 _ — _ 26

3-point goals — None.

Halifax 50, Annville-Cleona 46  

Halifax (50)

Mallori Bingaman 0 0-0 0, Brynn Miller 3 8-10 14, Lucy Spicher 1 1-2 3, Kendall Lehman 1 0-0 2. Kristina Kelley 3 0-0 6, Kassidy Sorichetti 2 2-2 6, Melody Davis 1 0-2 2, Brianna Turner 4 2-2 10, Julia Hoon 2 2-3 6. Totals — 17 15-21 50.

Annville-Cleona (46)

Morgan Zimmerman 4 1-4 9, Hannah Fischer 1 0-0 2, Micheala Singer 0 0-0 0, Harper Sellers 0 0-0 0, Meredith Bachman 6 1-2 13, Addison Hayes 5 1-2 13, Chloe Inman 3 1-2 7, Steph Inman 1 0-2 2. Totals — 20 4-12 46.

Halifax _ 11 _ 15 _ 7 _ 17 _ — _ 50

Ann.-Cleona _ 5 _ 13 _ 16 _ 12 _ — _ 46

3-point goals — Hal 1 (Spicher), A-C 2 (Hayes 2).

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