Zoe Zerman reached the career 1,000-point mark as Northern Lebanon won its first-ever state playoff game on Saturday, 43-30 over Villa Maria


WALLINGFORD - The program's first-ever state playoff win. A coveted personal milestone for its indispensable floor general.

Don't know how your Saturday was, but it's a good bet it didn't live up to the Northern Lebanon girls' basketball team's.

The Vikings continued to boldly go where no Northern Lebanon girls hoops squad has gone before, notching their initial state playoff victory with a workmanlike 43-30 triumph over District 1 runner-up and longtime power Villa Maria at Strath Haven High School.

Along the way, junior point guard Zoe Zerman reached the career 1,000-point mark on a hard drive to the hoop midway through the third quarter for two of her 13 points.

Junior forward Megan Brandt led NL (27-3) with a game-high 15 points and Liz Voight chipped in with 11 as the District 3 No. 5 seed set up another meeting with arch nemesis Lancaster Catholic in Wednesday's second round at a site and time to be determined. Catholic, which has handed Northern Lebanon all three of its losses, did its part to make a fourth battle happen by rolling over Audenried on Saturday night.

Another shot at Lancaster Catholic was a motivating factor for the feisty Vikings, but at this point a game against any team, anywhere, is all they really want.

"It was in the back of my mind," admitted Zerman, of her pursuit of 1,000 points. "But I definitely wanted to win and continue this awesome journey we've been having. It's so exciting. We've never done this before."

On the way to accomplishing their feat, the Vikings were true to themselves, rolling up their sleeves to bother the Hurricanes defensively, playing through their own mistakes, and in general bringing the we're-here-to-fight intensity that has been their calling card all season.

It was a little ugly early, but six first-quarter points from Brandt helped NL to a 9-4 lead after eight minutes, an advantage that grew to 21-11 by halftime. Villa Maria, led by nine points apiece from Abby Walheim and Julia Samar, didn't seriously threaten the rest of the way.

"It doesn't feel like we're playing in districts or states or anything," head coach Ken Battistelli said. "We're just playing basketball. I don't even know if they know to be happy. It's like, 'Hey, it's another ballgame. Let's go win, let's go grind.' And they do it. It doesn't dawn on them, that's probably why they're so cool. They don't know."

Actually, they know plenty by this point, including the beauty of being able to celebrate a milestone like Zerman's in the middle of a state playoff win.

"It's incredible," said Zerman, after posing for about 1,000 photos with teammates, friends and family afterwards. "I can't thank my coaches and teammates enough. It's just exciting."

"It's fitting that it happened like this, because all of Zoe's 1,000 points came while she was leading Northern Lebanon to success," said Battistelli. "She doesn't play in games when we're up by a lot, and she doesn't get meaningless baskets. All of her 1,000 points came by taking us from an average team to a better-than-average team to the second round of states. It's fitting that she got her points the hard way, trying to help NL win."

It's also fitting that in doing so, Zerman gave herself and her teammates a chance to shed the only monkey on their back this season - Lancaster Catholic.

"Sure," Battistelli said, of playing Catholic again. "They make us better, they give us something to strive for. We're not scared."

Northern Lebanon 43, Villa Maria 30

Northern Lebanon (43)

Cassiah Ray 1 0-0 2, Liz Voight 2 6-6 11, Megan Brandt 7 1-3 15, Amber Kintzer 1 0-0 2, Zoe Zerman 4 5-7 13, Raeann Lessing 0 0-0 0, Jenna Wentling 0 0-0 0.  Totals—  15 12-16 43.

 Villa Maria (30)

Abby Walheim 3 2-4 9, Laura Davis 0 0-0 0, Marissa Picinich 2 2-2 6, Murrin Tague 0 0-0 0, Erin DiDonato 1 0-0 2, Julia Samar 3 0-0 9, Marielle Picinich 1 2-2 4. Totals— 10 6-8 30.

Northern Lebanon _ 9 _ 12 _ 12 _ 10 _ — _ 43

Villa Maria _ 4 _ 7 _ 12 _ 7 _ — _ 30

3-point goals—   NL 1 (Voight), VM 4 (Walheim, Samar 3).

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