Northern Lebanon girls clinch first-ever states berth
HARRISBURG - The Northern Lebanon girls know now what it's like to win 25 basketball games and qualify for the PIAA tournament.
The Vikings accomplished both feats Tuesday for the first time in school history with a grueling 46-42 win over Bishop McDevitt in the consolation round of the District 3 Class AAA playoffs at CD East. Sophomores Liz Voight and Cassiah Ray canned free throws in the final seconds to wrap up the win, which wasn't decided until Ray's final foul shot found the bottom of the net with 2.7 seconds left.
The Crusaders (18-7) had battled back from an eight-point deficit in the fourth to push the Vikings to the limit.
"That was the most physical game we played all year," NL coach Ken Battistelli said. "It was grueling. They beat us up, not only physically but also mentally. By the end of the game, we were running out of gas."
Voight led the Lancaster-Lebanon League Section Three champion Vikings with a team-high 15 points, while NL's dynamic junior duo of Zoe Zerman and Megan Brandt had 14 and 12, respectively.
McDevitt freshman guard Olivia Fasick matched Voight with 15, including 10 coming in the fourth quarter. Rugged forward Mikayla Ruth also had 12 for the Crusaders.
It's on to the district's fifth-place game for Northern Lebanon against No. 8 seed York Suburban, which defeated Elco on Tuesday. The game is scheduled for Thursday night at a site to be determined.
"It'll be interesting to see where they send us to play York Suburban," Battistelli said after playing Tuesday's game in McDevitt's backyard. "It doesn't really matter. But I promise you one thing, I'm going to make sure my team is well rested. You want to prepare and go over every little thing, but they also need time to heal."
The Vikes are now 25-3, with all three losses coming to Lancaster Catholic.
They broke on top against McDevitt 18-9 on a Zerman drive with 3:44 left in the first half, but McDevitt managed to take a 20-19 lead into intermission.
The second half went back and forth, with McDevitt's trapping, full-court pressure causing NL numerous problems.
Brandt finally got untracked with six fourth-quarter points, but Zerman was running on empty. She went to the line for six fourth-quarter free throws and made just one.
With 2:24 left, Brandt's final hoop put NL up 42-34.
Fasick refused to let her team go down without a final push.
At the 19.3 second mark, Voight was fouled and went to the line to shoot two with her team in front 43-42. She made both.
"What was I thinking about when I stepped to the line?" she said. "I actually thought about all the foul shots I practice at home with my mom rebounding for me. I thought about making them. I just focused and tried to block everything else out."
Ray then went 1-of-2 to ensure the win.
"Bishop McDevitt was really tough," Voight said. "I knew they were a big school with a lot of great athletes. They were very aggressive. It feels great to be the first team in school history to make the state playoffs."
Northern Lebanon 46, Bishop McDevitt 42
Bishop McDevitt (42)
Jasmine Chisholm 0 2-3 2, Marisa Pugliese 0 1-2 1, Meredith Wiest 1 0-0 2, Mikayla Ruth 6 0-2 12, Treasure George-Morrow 1 0-0 2, Noelle Cameron 4 0-2 8. Totals : 9 4-13 42.
Northern Lebanon (46)
Cassiah Ray 1 1-2 3, Liz Voight 4 7-11 15, Megan Brandt 5 2-2-2 12, Jenna Wentling 0 0-0 0, Amber Kintzer 1 0-0 2, Zoe Zerman 6 2-8 14, RaeAnn Lessing 0 0-0 0. Totals — 17 12-21 46.
Bishop McDevitt _4 _ 16 _ 10 _ 12 _ — _ 42
Northern Lebanon _10 _ 9 _ 16_ 11 _ — _46