CLOSE's Matt Catrillo and Pat Huggins preview the upcoming Lancaster-Lebanon League Tournament and District 3 Tournament for boys and girls basketball. Matt Catrillo/

The Viking clinched their second straight Section 3 title on Tuesday night with a 58-30 win over Elco.


MYERSTOWN - No matter the level of talent and dedication, repeating a championship season is tough stuff.

There is a grind that must not only be dealt with, but embraced. And there's also the reality that you're going to get the other team's best shot every night because, well, they want what's yours.

The Northern Lebanon girls basketball team waded through all of that and more this season, and with style. Tuesday night was the Vikings' reward.

With a thoroughly dominant performance, Northern Lebanon put the finishing touches on its second straight Lancaster-Lebanon Section 3 title Tuesday, rolling past Elco 58-30 in a Senior Night regular season finale on the Raiders' home floor.

Up a game in the section race after last Tuesday's huge win over chief rival Lancaster Catholic, the Vikings had to wait a full week to officially claim the crown. And they were clearing chomping at the bit to do so, jumping to a 38-12 halftime lead and cruising home from there.

Now 21-1 after its 16th straight win, Northern Lebanon will now be idle until Saturday night, when it hosts Section 3 third place team Hempfield in the opening round of the Lancaster-Lebanon League playoffs.It will be a tough test for the Vikings, but one they're well-prepared for after fighting off fellow state-ranked powers Lancaster Catholic and Lebanon Catholic to wear the section crown.

"I think that's what really makes it neat, the fact that there were some really big heavyweights in the section this year," NL coach Ken Battistelli said. "Honestly, that's why it's neat. These are just a bunch of squirrels from Northern Lebanon who grew up and decided to play hard and play together. Two years in a row, they didn't have many letdowns. That's pretty special. It's a heck of a bunch of kids."

As usual, it was a balanced effort that did the trick for the Vikings. All five starters scored, led by Liz Voight's game-high 15 points, and each Viking contributed the team's trademark in-your-shirt defense to the cause. In addition, senior leaders Zoe Zerman and Megan Brandt registered 14 and 12 points, respectively.

"Back to back just means we worked that much harder to get to this spot right here," said Zerman, the Vikings' tireless floor leader. "We knew we were gonna be the team everyone wants to beat and the fact that we had such a tough section makes it all count."

Brandt, Northern Lebanon's equally valuable force in the paint, concurred with Zerman.

"The section championship means so much to us because it shows all the hard work we put into playing our defense and playing as a team," she said. "I am so incredibly grateful to share this with my wonderful team."

But don't get the idea the Vikings are satisfied. Last year, they parlayed the section title into a memorable postseason run that included trips to the L-L finals and the state quarterfinals. Their sites are set even higher this time around.

"We're definitely excited about it," Battistelli said. "Last year, we felt like it ended too soon, so we'll be licking our chops. But honestly, we try to stay focused on one thing at a time, and this was our first goal. Tonight, we're gonna be happy, then tomorrow we'll start everything new."

With fire in their eyes, too.

"This was just the first stepping stone into the rest of our post season," Brandt said.

"We weren't done last year and we are certainly not done tonight" Zerman said.

Northern Lebanon 58, Elco 30

Northern Lebanon (58)

\Ray 2 0-2 4, Voight 4 4-4 15, Brandt 5 2-2 12, Kintzer 2 1-2 5, Zoe Zerman 6 1-1 14, Zara Zerman 2 2-4 6, Lessing 0 1-2 1, McFeaters 0 1-2 1. Totals: 21 12-19 57

Elco (30)

Bossert 1 0-0 2, Rosengrant 2 0-0 4, Bidelspach 0 3-5 3, Nolt 1 2-2 4, Thomas 1 0-0 2, Nelson 2 0-0 4, Sonnen 3 0-3 8, Gerber 1 0-0 3 Totals: 11 5-10 30.

Northern Lebanon 17 21 18 2 - 58

Elco 4 8 5 13 - 30

3-pointers: NL - Voight 3, Zoe Zerman, E - Sonnen 2, Gerber.


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