Lancaster Catholic and Northern Lebanon were scheduled to play on March 14, 2020, in a PIAA Class 4A state quarterfinal girls basketball game.
That game never happened, after Gov. Tom Wolf pulled the plug on the winter sports season because of coronaries concerns.
Wednesday night, the Crusaders and the Vikings renewed their rivalry. Only this time, there was no trip to the state semifinals hanging in the balance.
Liz Zwally paced a balanced attack with 12 points, Catholic opened up some breathing room with an 11-0 blitz to open the third quarter, and the Crusaders knocked off Northern Lebanon 56-33 in a Lancaster-Lebanon League Section Four showdown in Lancaster.
Catholic, which won its 44th L-L League game in a row, improved to 2-0 in league play and to 3-0 overall; Northern Lebanon lost its section opener and dipped to 1-1 overall.
Wednesday, Catholic came out of the chutes firing with a game-opening 13-2 spree. Zwally drilled a 3-pointer during the run, which also featured a pair of buckets by Autumn Lipson, a stick-back by Sophia Wentz, and transition layups by Madelyn Card and Mary Bolesky.
“We’ve become accustomed to and probably spoiled by those kinds of runs over the years,” Catholic coach Charlie Detz said. “You get on those 10-2, 11-4, 12-2 runs and you’re able to get some separation. We really didn’t do that in our first two games, so it was nice to see that.”
Northern Lebanon had it to within 15-6 after the first quarter, and Catholic had a 26-15 lead at the half; the Vikings were within 23-15 on Rachel Papson’s top-of-the-key trey with 1:15 to go in the second quarter. But Vivian Klemmer had a put-back in the lane to restore order for the Crusaders.
Catholic hit the court sprinting in the second half. Wentz scored in the lane to get the run going. Later, Jeriyah Johnson had a transition layup off a steal, Bolesky had another breakaway layup off a turnover, and Zwally capped the 11-0 spurt with a corner 3-pointer and the Crusaders had a cozy 36-15 lead midway through the third quarter.
“I thought we took care of the ball better, and we’ll take that for sure,” Detz said. “We shared the ball better, and we definitely got out in transition better. And I thought defensively, in the second half, we got more turnovers than in the first half, and that allowed us to get that separation.”
Mikayla Harrison scored a career-high 15 points for the Vikings, who forced 15 turnovers. But with multiple new starters on the floor, Northern Lebanon — like so many other teams around the league — is still trying to find its legs early in this truncated season, which has already featured a government-mandated four-week shutdown.
“Our kids are trying to adapt to their new roles,” Northern Lebanon coach Ken Battistelli said. “We have a long way to go, and we don’t have a lot of time to fix it. I told the kids to hang on to every word I say, because we have to try and improve freakishly quickly.”
Catholic played without the team’s leading returning scorer from last season, Naomi Zulueta, for the second game in a row; she spent the night parked on the bench with a walking boot on her right foot.
The Crusaders return to action Saturday with a 4 p.m. nonleague home game against Berks Catholic as part of the Catholic Showcase; Northern Lebanon is back at it next Tuesday with a Section Four tilt against Elco.