Highlights from the Vikings 44-31 win over the Beavers Friday. Keith Schweigert/For GameTimePA.com
The Vikings rallied from a slow start to avenge their only loss and beat Lebanon Catholic, 44-31.
FREDERICKSBURG - If you want to win a championship - and rest assured, the Northern Lebanon girls basketball team wants multiple titles out of this season - you've got to be able to hang in there on nights when shots aren't falling and nothing seems to be going your way.
You've also got to be able to use disappointing losses as a tool to get better and as fuel to stoke the fire for next time.
The Vikings checked all those boxes on Friday night, overcoming a dreadful 1-for-17 first quarter shooting performance to avenge their only loss of the season with a grinding 44-31 victory over Lebanon Catholic in front of a raucous packed house at Northern Lebanon High School.
The triumph over Catholic, which rallied for a 45-42 win over NL back on Dec. 19, lifts Northern Lebanon to 14-1 overall and 8-1 in Section Three, where it remains tied for the top spot with Lancaster Catholic. Lebanon Catholic, which entered the night in a three-way tie for first, slips to 11-5 and 7-2 in the section.
It didn't look like it would turn out that way for the Vikings after they couldn't pry the lid off the basket in the opening quarter, but behind a game-high 12 points from Liz Voight and warrior-like efforts from the senior trio of Zoe Zerman, Megan Brandt and Amber Kintzer, Northern Lebanon was able to persevere.
"Immeasurably so," NL coach Ken Battistelli said, when asked how much the earlier loss to Lebanon Catholic bothered his squad. "But I think we've played really well in some games since that game, and I don't know if that would have happened had we not lost. Because it affected us so badly. We did a lot of talking and soul-searching after that loss."
Voight concurred with her head coach, and the evidence that the Vikings learned from that loss could be seen over the last three quarters, in which it outscored Catholic by a 42-23 margin while holding star junior forward Alexis Hill to just two points for the night.
"Oh my gosh,It was the worst feeling," Voight said, looking back on the December loss to the Beavers. "It really hurt us, but the next day we were back on it and kept pushing ourselves."
Indeed, the Vikings reeled off eight straight wins heading into Friday's rematch, but there was a sense of 'here we go again' after the slow start. Then came a 17-point second quarter highlighted by two Voight 3-pointers that got Northern Lebanon back in the fight and off to a reassuring 19-15 halftime lead.
The second quarter surge would ultimately haunt Catholic, which could have buried NL with a better offensive performance of its own early.
"It was definitely a missed opportunity," said Lebanon Catholic coach Patti Hower. "We should have had a pretty nice-sized lead, actually. But I was really proud of our effort in a hostile environment. Hopefully we get in this kind of environment again. I thought they handled it well. They did not let it affect their game."
The Beavers, led by nine points from Jasmine Turner, recovered briefly in the third and took a 24-20 lead on a Neesha Pierre bucket with 31/2 minutes left in the period. It was a 26-26 game after Pierre scored the first bucket of the fourth at the 7:38 mark, but from there Brandt, Kintzer, Zoe and Zara Zerman and Voight pieced together a 14-2 run that culminated with a Kintzer bucket and a 40-28 lead with under two minutes left.
"We just kept playing defense," Voight said of fighting back from the slow start. "Our offense was pretty bad - I was (pretty bad) - but we just kept pushing it and it would eventually come. They're very good. I think in the beginning, the first time we played them, we were intimidated a little bit. We were afraid to tap the gaps (in their zone). I think we worked on that really good and started to go at it more."
Northern Lebanon 44, Lebanon Catholic 31
Lebanon Catholic (31)
Hill 0 2-2 2 Pierre 3 1-4 7, Mars 1 4-6 6, Turner 4 0-0 9, Shellehamer 3 0-0 7, Callihan 0 0-0 0, Kline 0 0-0 0. Totals: 11 7-12 31.
Northern Lebanon (44)
Ray 0 1-2 1, Voight 3 4-6 12, Brandt 4 1-2 9, Kintzer 3 2-2 8, Zoe Zerman 3 2-3 9, Zara Zerman 1 3-6 5. Totals: 14 13-21 44.
Lebanon Catholic 8 7 9 7 - 31
Northern Lebanon 2 17 7 18 - 44
3-pointers: LC - Turner, Shellehamer, NL: Voight 2, Zoe Zerman