Northern Lebanon Starts Fast, Handles Solanco As Vikings Tally Impressive Performance To End The Season
Written by: Andy Herr on Monday, February 14th, 2022
Without question, the high school basketball season can quite often be a long and sometimes very winding road. Sure, while there are some fortunate squads that will still have another month of their season yet to unfold from this particular juncture onward, those who are found staring down the barrel of the end of their campaigns this week in particular have more than likely encountered their fair share of potholes and speedbumps along the way over these last two months. Sure enough, that happened to be the case for the two squads that met at center court at the bottom of the 5 o’clock hour in Quarryville on Thursday evening.
Simply put, both Northern Lebanon and Solanco had hoped to find themselves sitting in a more favorable spot heading into what would be their last regular season contest respectively. However, even despite the fact that both the Vikings and Golden Mules had their moments during the 2021-22 season, both teams entered the season finale with a combined total of nine wins shared between them. Suffice to say, perhaps the end of the line waiting there on the other side of Thursday night could be a good thing in some regards considering that it would mean that each program would take a much-needed breather for a time before later regrouping in the not-too-distant future and working to build upon what each has returning into the fold for next season.
Not only that, but speaking of the road itself –you know, tires upon asphalt and all good stuff – there is no road trip that is least welcomed than the jaunt between Fredericksburg, PA and Quarryville, PA, as there is simply no easy and truly attractive way to get from either campus to the other, no matter who is tasked with making the nearly 50-mile, hour and a half-long drive. This time around though, it would be Northern Lebanon’s turn in making the journey southward to the southern end of Lancaster County, a roadie that would come less than 24 hours following their one-point setback the previous night –on the road no less – at Donegal in a 45-44 final decision.
That said, not even the malaise of sitting in a cramped school bus prior to the last game of the season seemed to phase the visitors all that much on this night. No, not when you consider it might have arguably been Northern Lebanon’s finest hour.
In fact, the black-clad Vikings wasted no time in making their mark on the final crossover contest in the history of the Lancaster-Lebanon League’s five-division format. All told, after getting off on the right foot courtesy of knockdown triple sunk in the corner by way of 6’0 junior guard, James Voight, which allowed the guests to race out to a 5-0 cushion just 2:30 into the contest, the Vikes were able to up their lead to a 7-0 threshold following a sweet two-man game between senior guards Peyton Wolfe and Simon Grimes, as the Wolfe to Grimes connection was good for the easy deuce which quickly prompted a Golden Mules’ timeout at the 4:54 mark of the opening stanza.
Finally, and surely not a moment too soon after being stymied by the Northern Lebanon defense throughout much of the first period, the hosts were able to break the scoring seal on a smooth trifecta splashed home by way of Solanco junior guard, Jadon Yoder, as the Yoder 3-ball made it a 9-3 affair with 2:55 still left to tick off the first quarter clock. However, just when it had appeared as if Solanco was finally garnering up some juice in an effort to try and push back against the early Northern Lebanon attack, a pair of consecutive takes to the tin by way of Grimes in the waning stages of the first quarter just as quickly allowed the Vikings to then flirt with the double digit lead once more at the end of the opening eight minutes, 16-7.
Yet here again though, at least as far as the opening stages of the second quarter were most concerned, the Mules appeared to be right back in the thick of things. For that, look to a tough bucket inside tallied by Solanco’s Brock Osborne, as the Golden Mules’ sophomore big man helped cut the NL lead back down to size at 16-9, just a minute and change into the fresh stanza. From there, Solanco would creep back even closer thanks to a pair of silky smooth freebies cashed in at the charity stripe from freshman, Noah Bailey, as the Bailey free throws got the Mules within five at 16-11 shortly thereafter.
In truth though, that would prove to be all the closer Solanco would get for the remainder of the evening.
After seeing their lead trimmed all the way down to five with the second quarter still well in its infancy, a corner 3-ball sunk by Northern Lebanon’s Kade Erdman proved crucial in the grand scheme of things as the sophomore sniper made it a 19-11 affair with 4:45 left to play before the intermission. Then, with the game rapidly approaching recess later on, Grimes was able to cap off his sensational opening 16 minutes with yet another bucket at the cup which made it a 24-11 ballgame with two minutes left to go, all before the Vikings were able to strut into the dressing room with the commanding 28-12 buffer between themselves and the opposition.
Throughout those opening 16 minutes of play on Thursday evening, it had readily appeared as if Northern Lebanon was knocking on the door of blowing this game all the way open. Well, wouldn’t you know it, but that’s precisely what the guests did by the time the third quarter rolled. Better yet, they kicked the door down.
And in the most apropos way possible, the Vikings’ onslaught was triggered by a trademark Peyton Wolfe NBA-range bomb, a trifecta at which time propelled Northern Lebanon out to a 20-point bulge at 32-12 just 35 seconds into the second half. However, while Solanco would counter back with a 6-0 burst of their own – a run which was capped off by a pair of free throws cashed in by junior guard, Elijah Cunningham, with 4:40 left to play in the third — the Northern Lebanon snowball was only just getting started to roll back downhill.
Sure enough, after witnessing their lead get threatened following the aforementioned Golden Mules’ charge early in the third frame, the Vikings would retaliate right back in the immediate aftermath as a Riley Clinger runner in the lane allowed NL to double-up Solanco at 36-18, all before a pair of back-breaking treys, nailed by Wolfe and Kade Erdman respectively, allowed Northern Lebanon to enjoy their largest lead of the evening up until that point at 42-20. As it turned out, 20-points would essentially remain the difference for the remainder of the quarter as a confident jump shot nailed by Solanco’s Jadon Yoder mere moments before the third quarter horn made it a 42-22 contest with just eight minutes left in either team’s season.
Speaking of triples though, an impromptu three-point contest seemed to commence once the final stanza got underway.
Case in point, a dead-eye triple converted on the Mules’ opening possession of the final quarter courtesy of senior guard, Trent McDowell, allowing the hosts to try and capture some mojo with the conclusion of their season fully coming into view. That said, speaking of 3-balls, there is arguably no better marksman in the entire L-L League than that of Peyton Wolfe, a theme that once again seemed to be on full display inside the fourth quarter here too as a pair of his long-range daggers made it a 52-25 Vikings’ lead with time running out on their season as well.
Yet even time starting to evaporate, Solanco’s Jadon Yoder and Austin Wenger found themselves more than ample opportunity to work themselves into the scoring column once more as a the pair of late Mules’ buckets by the Mules’ duo got the deficit back to within a 55-31 margin, all before the final buzzer blared out roughly two minutes later. And once it did, the end result was one most certainly to be relished and celebrated by the Vikings on the long, final bus ride home this year seeing as how they would be able to reminisce on their well-earned 55-35 triumph for their troubles after being nearly two hours from home.
As mentioned at the outset, Thursday night marked the end of the line for both Northern Lebanon and Solanco this basketball season. And sure, while Solanco will most certainly be looking forward to improving upon their 2-18 overall record which the Golden Mules ended up with this season, there’s reason for optimism in Quarryville. In fact, just a quick glance at the Mules’ roster shows only three varsity players departing this year due to graduation. Needless to say, this is a formula we’ve seen work before more than often than not. Granted, while taking your lumps at the time is admittedly no fun whatsoever, those very lessons that can only be gleaned by engaging in varsity-level competition are truly worth their weight in gold. Well, in that respect, look for the Solanco Golden Mules to be on an upward trajectory and become a litter richer come next season, at least most certainly come this time 365 days from now.
On the Northern Lebanon side, the finale against Solanco most specifically marked the end of the careers for a pair of vital Vikings’ senior guards in Simon Grimes and Peyton Wolfe respectively. And yes, while Grimes’ physical tools while operating the point guard slot will certainly leave a void in the Northern Lebanon cupboard upon entering next season, the scholastic career of one of the best to ever wear a Vikings’ uniform is almost impossible to accurately put into words, as is the case with Wolfe’s exploits this last handful of seasons. Fittingly though, while he may have been overlooked at times, his legacy will be displayed and will stand the test of time considering that he too will have his name sewed into the fabric of the Northern Lebanon 1,000-Point banner hanging in their gym, a simple and just reward for one of the most unheralded L-L League players to come through in recent memory.
Follow LLhoops on Twitter @LLhoops