Showdowns loom for Lebanon County girls teams
To this point of the high school basketball season the argument can be made that three of the Lancaster-Lebanon League's four best girls basketball teams reside in Lebanon County.
That would be Cedar Crest, Northern Lebanon and Lebanon Catholic.
In the next few days, we'll get a better idea of whether or not that is indeed true.
A trio of marquee matchups are on the way beginning Friday night that should clear - or further muddy - the picture. Either way, it should be fun to follow what happens.
Here's a closer look at what lies ahead:
Northern Lebanon at Lancaster Catholic
Friday night, 7:30 p.m.
A much-anticipated rematch 10 months in the making finally arrives Friday night, when Northern Lebanon and Lancaster Catholic square off in the first of two - at least - meetings this season.
When last they met, in the second round of the state playoffs back in March, the Vikings avenged three previous losses to the perennial power Crusaders with a thrilling victory that the folks in Fredericksburg won't soon forget.
Now, after L-L realignment, they're Section 3 rivals looking to establish themselves in a hotly contested section title race that also includes Lebanon Catholic, which is currently tied with Lancaster Catholic for first place and a game up on Northern Lebanon.
So Friday's matchup is a biggie, to say the least. NL (9-1, 3-1) is led by senior stalwarts Megan Brandt (13.9 ppg) and Zoe Zerman (13.7 ppg), while sophomore sensation Kiki Jefferson (21.0 ppg) is the catalyst for the Crusaders, currently 6-1 overall and 4-0 in Section 3.
Flip a coin. And enjoy.
Hempfield at Cedar Crest
Friday night, 7:30 p.m.
The early team to beat in both Section 1 and the L-L as a whole, the undefeated Falcons can solidify that status with a win over section co-leader Hempfield at the Falcon Cage on Friday night.
Cedar Crest (9-0, 4-0 Section 1), with dynamic senior point guard Ariel Jones (20.1 ppg) and post presence Alyssa Austin (13.2 ppg) setting the tone, have yet to win a game by less than 12 points and claim sole possession of first place with a win Friday.
Hempfield represents Crest's biggest test to date, though. Led by senior guard Julianna Clark (16.7 ppg), the Black Knights (7-3, 4-0) are a perimeter-oriented bunch averaging 5 3-pointers per game. If they can shoot the eyes out on Friday night, they'll have a puncher's chance of victory. But it won't be easy to do so again a Crest team that allows just a shade over 40 points per game.
Lancaster Catholic at Lebanon Catholic
Tuesday night, 7:30 p.m.
It's been awhile since the Beavers were legitimately in section title contention, but there they are with a share of first place in Section 3 with the help of a huge victory over Northern Lebanon back on Dec. 19.
It's been a bit of a struggle for Lebanon Catholic (7-3, 4-0) since then, but with energetic junior forward Alexis Hill (20.3 ppg) fronting a deep and talented roster, the Beavers can play with anybody when they've got their act together.
And, of course, they'll need to be at their best on Tuesday if they want to grab sole possession of first place from Jefferson, Lauren Mills (13.9 ppg) and company.