Lebanon Catholic girls grab 19th district crown
See thr top five plays from the Beavers' 55-27 win over Halifax in the District 3 Class 1A Championship. Beavers won their 3rd straight district title. Matt Catrillo/GameTimePA.com
HERSHEY - Nineteen and counting.
The Lebanon Catholic girls basketball team captured the 19th District 3 Class 1A title in its distinguished history on Friday afternoon, topping Halifax 55-27 in the championship game at Giant Center.
The victory, the 707th of head coach Patti Hower's 39-year tenure, also gave the Beavers a district title 3-peat and a date with the District 4 No.4 seed Galeton next Saturday in the opening round of the PIAA state playoffs.
A 17-3 run through the third quarter led Catholic's charge to another district crown. Alexis Hill paced the Beavers, who never trailed, with 16 points. Jasmine Turner added 10 points and Neesha Pierre chipped in with 9 for the winners.
The final score was appropriately lopsided, given the Beavers' mastery of the 1A field over the years. Catholic has been so dominant that even Hower has some trouble fathoming the staggering number of district championships she and her program have accumulated over the years.
"It is a big number," she said from the Giant Center floor afterwards. "I guess as coaches, we won't really appreciate it until we're old and retired. It's pretty impressive, and it's been with all kinds of teams and all kinds of players against all kinds of competition. I think Lebanon Catholic can take a lot of pride in the fact that we've represented ourselves very well over these years. Nineteen is pretty good."
The latest district crown was just as meaningful to this year's team, albeit for different reasons.
For Lebanon High transfers Hill and Turner, Friday's contest marked their first postseason championship experience and first appearance on the big stage of Giant Center.
For junior point guard Neesha Pierre and many of her teammates, it was a third consecutive time to bask in the glory of a district championship in Chocolatetown. And also to breathe a sigh of relief after living up to the program's incredibly high standards yet again.
"I felt the pressure this year," Pierre admitted. "I felt like I had to win because we won our freshman and sophomore year. It's a lot of pressure, but it's always fun."
The Beavers (20-7) didn't look like they were feeling pressure for much of the contest, using smothering defense and a decided edge in athleticism to overwhelm a Halifax club that came in with an impressive 23-3 record and two career 1,000-point scorers in Brianna Turner and Brynn Miller.
But Turner and Miller were non-factors with six points apiece, and Catholic never trailed after a Jasmine Turner jumper broke a 2-2 deadlock 2:35 into the first quarter.
"For the first time, I wasn't nervous. I was pumped," Pierre said. "It felt like we've done this before, we've won twice before, so we can win it a third time. The key to this game was our defense. Our defense kept us going and it got us easy buckets."
The Beavers' rigorous regular season schedule also paid dividends during Friday's drive for No. 19, as evidenced by the fact that county and Lancaster-Lebanon Section 3 rival Northern Lebanon also found itself celebrating a district title after besting Bishop McDevitt in the 4A title game.
The Beavers and Vikings, along with perennial power Lancaster Catholic and 2A runner-up Columbia, were part of one of the top divisions in the state this season in Section 3, which paid off quite handsomely in the quest for more district gold.
"That's what gets us here," Hower said. "The competition we play all year long prepares us for this. And we know that. I mean, look at our section. That's what we're playing against night in and night out."
And as a result, celebrating district titles year in and year out.
Lebanon Catholic 55, Halifax 27
Lebanon Catholic (55)
Hill 7 2-3 16, Pierre 4 1-3 9, Turner 4 0-2 10, Shellehamer 2 0-0 4, Mars 3 0-0 6, Callihan 1 0-0 2, Kline 1 0-0 2, Pastal 1 0-0 2, Purcell 1 0-0 2, Ambriz 0 2-2 2, Eisenhauer 0 0-2 0. Totals: 24 5-12 55.
Miller 2 2-4 6, Turner 2 2-4 6, Davis 4 0-4 8, Ashberry 2 1-1 5, Starr 0 0-1 0, Ingram 0 1-2 1, Lenker 0 1-2 1. Totals: 10 7-17 27.
Lebanon Catholic 10 12 17 16 - 55
Halifax 4 9 3 11 - 27
3-pointers: LC - Turner 2