The Claus man is rather busy these days, but I've been able to get a Christmas wish list to him with some potential gifts for Lebanon County girls basketball teams as the big day draws ever closer.
No guarantee they'll be delivered - Rudolph could blow out a bulb on his red nose or Santa could get tripped by Grayson Allen on his way to the chimney - but it's the thought that counts, right?
So here's hoping, and here's the list of some things local girls hoops teams should hope to find under the tree come Sunday morning..
For the Cedar Crest girls, continued strong contributions from its role players. With point guard Ariel Jones and center Alyssa Austin on the floor, the Falcons can play with anybody, but when Jones and Austin don't have to shoulder the entire burden the Falcons move to another level entirely.
That's where they've been thus far this season thanks to solid production from the likes of 3-point bomber Rachel Witherite and forward Raven Morgan. Jade Rolon, Gracen Donmoyer and Kelsey Guth have also come up big at various times to help Cedar Crest to a 6-0 start. If they keep it up, the sky is the limit for these Falcons.
For the Northern Lebanon girls, more of the same determination and work ethic that has lifted them to great heights over the last season-plus.
So far, so good. Though the Vikings endured a tough-to-take loss to Lebanon Catholic on Monday night after blowing a nine-point fourth quarter lead, their competitive fire still obviously burns brightly. That will continue to take them to the places they want to go, even on nights like Monday when their execution isn't quite where it needs to be.
Speaking of the Lebanon Catholic girls, what gift can you give to a team that seems to have everything? At least it looked like the Beavers have everything after big wins over Northern Lebanon and Elco this week.
Already a favorite to defends its 1A district title, the addition of Lebanon High transfers Alexis Hill and Jasmine Turner appear to have lifted Catholic to the status of section, league and, dare we say, state title contenders. It's really early yet, but the Beavers are going to be a problem for schools of all sizes this season. A big problem.
For the Elco girls, good health and some tangible rewards for their heroic efforts. Hammered by injuries - Elco lost starting forward Alexis Thomas before the season to a torn ACL and go-to sophomore standout Ryelle Shuey to an ankle injury the opening weekend of the season -the Raiders have still managed to cobble together a 4-3 record while staying competitive in each and every game.
These kids play extremely hard and deserve some good fortune the rest of the season. Get with it, Claus.
For the Palmyra girls, a continued smooth transition to a new era. After a few key graduation losses and the retirement of legendary head coach Ron Berman, it was fair to wonder if the program would stay at its customary level of success. The answer, so far, is yes.
New head coach Mary Manlove, the former Dallastown coach, has Palmyra off to a 5-2 start and feeling good about both the present and the future. It's not a miracle or anything - Manlove is a proven head coach and the Cougars have a good bit of young talent - but it's impressive and should be noted as such.
For the Annville-Cleona girls, a reminder to keep their heads up. The giddiness of a 3-0 start has faded after three straight losses, but A-C is still halfway there to match last season's victory total of six and we're not even through December yet.
Section 3 is loaded with talent, so there will be no easy nights for this team in league play, but it's a group of competitive kids who've had success in other sports. That should help them meet the challenges that lie ahead.
For the Lebanon girls, see also Annville-Cleona girls. The Cedars need to keep their heads up, too, after enduring an 0-6 start that began with a 56-7 loss to Manheim Township. Yeah, it's been a little rough for new head coach Jaime Walborn and her squad with Hill and Turner transferring to Lebanon Catholic.
But there is no way to go up, so the Cedars have to try to keep the faith and work on getting better.
For the New Covenant girls, a Happy New Year. The Flames, led by junior guard Kylie Murray, have a 1-3 record to show for their December efforts and are now idle until Jan. 3, so it's hard to get a read on them to this point. We'll know more starting next month, when New Covenant plays five games in 11 days between Jan. 3 and 14.
Merry Christmas to all.