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Lebanon Catholic cruises in state opener

LITITZ - The Lebanon Catholic girls basketball team faced two opponents in the opening round of the PIAA 1A playoffs on Saturday night.

Beat them both, too.

The Beavers not only had to conquer District 4 No.4 seed Galeton but their own collective psyche as well, knowing that they had to keep their intensity and focus at a high level despite the fact that less than their best would probably still be enough to grab the victory.

For the most part Catholic succeeded in that task, cruising to a quick 9-0 lead en route to a convincing 53-29 victory at Warwick High School.

Now 21-7 and headed for Wednesday's second round against Faith Christian or Harrisburg Christian, Lebanon Catholic was led by junior forward Alexis Hill, who provided a great deal of the necessary intensity as well as a game-high 31 points.

"It definitely was one of the easier opponents," Hower said, coming off Catholic's 19th district title last week. "But (Galeton) gave it a good shot, and I thought we kept our intensity, which is what we talked about. I mean, they know (they should win), but I said we gotta remain focused and play intense."

No one needed to tell the ultra energetic Hill that. The rangy junior was her usual attacking self, dropping in 10 of her 31 in the first quarter to help the Beavers open up an it's-all-over-already 18-2 lead after the first quarter.

Catholic also got solid efforts from junior point guard Neesha Pierre, who ran the show well while scoring 6 points, and junior forward Celine Mars, who ran the floor even better and tallied 11 points.

"I thought Neesha and Alexis really ran the floor well together," Hower said. "Neesha's really starting to do a nice job at the point.She's doing it right at the right time."

And it doesn't hurt to have Hill speeding down the court in transition and looking to explode to the basket, something she did quite a bit on Saturday.

"She's got a lot of energy," Hower said of Hill, "and Neesha's a good leader out there."

The only drawback to Catholic's current situation is that it hasn't been tested in a while, including during the district tournament. In fact, the last formidable opponent that the Beavers faced was Cedar Crest, whom they fell to in the Lancaster-Lebanon League quarterfinals a few weeks back.

But Hower remains confident that her team will be ready when tested again and that it is more than capable of going deep into the state tourney.

"Maybe a little bit," she said when asked if she was concerned. "But they know what's at stake, they're gonna work hard. It was a nice big court (at Warwick) so we got a good run out of it. That was probably more of a concern, that we were ready to play four quarters. We had a scrimmage this week, so that helped.

"I think we're right there with anyone. We just gotta play good on that day. Anything can happen, it's not automatic. But I think we're as good as anybody."

Lebanon Catholic 53, Galeton 29

Galeton (29)

Shadle 3 3-5 11, C. Parsell 2 1-2 5, O.Pagano 2 0-0 4, K. Pagano 0 0-0 0, L.Parsell 3 0-0 6, Ludington 1 0-0 2, Kalacinski 0 1-2 1. Totals: 11 5-9 29

Lebanon Catholic (53)

Hill 13 5-7 31, Pierre 3 0-1 6, Turner 0 0-0 0, Mars 5 3-6 13, Shellehamer 1 0-0 2, Callihan 0 0-0 0, Kline 0 0-0 0, Pastal 0 1-2 1. Totals: 22 9-16

Galeton 2 8 10 9 - 29

Lebanon Catholic 18 12 16 7 - 53

3-pointers: Galeton -Shadle, Lebanon Catholic - None