In a back-and-forth battle, the Vikings upended the Beavers 57-51 on Assumption Hill to claim a Lancaster-Lebanon League Section Three-Four crossover win and county bragging rights.
Lebanon Catholic controlled action throughout the first half, but the visitors came alive after the break to snap the Beavers' six-game winning streak. NL relied on a decisive 21-12 run in the third quarter to pick up its third consecutive victory over their private-school rival.
"They're playing at a real high level right now; we are, too," said Beavers head coach Scott Clentimack. "With two good teams somebody has to lose. I wish it wouldn't have been us, but what are you going to do."
Junior Sam Light and senior Pat Stevens combined for 52 of the Vikings' 57 points. Light dropped a game-high 29, including 23 in the second half, and Stevens chipped in with 23 courtesy of five 3-pointers.
"You don't get rid of Sam. He's going to get his, you just got to make him work real hard for it," Clentimack said. "If he's going to get 29, we want him to get that on 21-22 shots. We didn't want him to get that on 12 or 13 shots. The other key is to keep him off the foul line."
Timmy Orr led the blue and white with a team-high 23, and Alex Frattaroli added 15 in defeat.
Tied at 43 midway through the fourth, Light iced the contest by making 7-of-8 from the charity stripe in the final five minutes. The crafty point guard finished the night 9-of-10 from the line and scored NL's last seven points. The victory is the seventh in the past eight games for the Vikings, who improved to 10-4 overall and 6-3 in section three.
"This game to us was huge. We had a tough week," said NL boss Gary Bouchette. "We've had Donegal (loss Monday), L-S (win Wednesday), and now we have Catholic. Those are the top teams in the sections, and we got two out of three.
The Beavers (11-3 and 6-3 in Section Four) got out of the gate fast behind the trio of Timmy Orr, Alex Frattaroli and Anthony Pletz. All three scored four points in the first quarter to stake the hosts to a 12-7 lead after eight minutes.
"They have all five positions covered, and they can run and they have good stamina," Light said of the Beavers. "And they just play really good as a team."
Meanwhile, Stevens kept the blue and yellow in striking distance by single-handedly accounting for the Vikings' first 12 points. The 6-foot-3 forward drained a couple long jumpers and caught fire from beyond the arch. Despite Light not scoring until 4:21 of the second, NL only trailed by three at halftime, 21-18.
"You know what, if you told me (Stevens) was going to hit 5 3's, I would have never believed it," Clentimack said. "The same thing kind of happened last year with (Richard) Iwuagwu. I scouted him and he didn't score a point. I told them to let him shoot the ball, and he came in here and drained four 3's against us. I was surprised at Stevens; he was feeling it."
Light shined in the third, scoring the first five of the quarter via a drive to the rim and 3-ball.
"I didn't elevate on my jump shot (in the first half), and when I don't elevate it goes every which way," explained Light. "I started attacking the rim and shooting set jump shots so I could get balanced on my shot."
The Beavers did not bend after falling behind as Pletz, Frattaroli and Orr answered with three straight buckets to regain a 27-23 edge. From there, Stevens and Light combined to drop three more bombs to carry a 39-33 lead into the final stanza.
"We were playing good in the first half, but we didn't drive to the basket enough," said Stevens. "In the second half, we started to taking it to the line and started hitting free throws, and that's what pulled out this victory."
NL finished 12-of-16 from the charity stripe. The Beavers connected on 9-of-18.
"The first half we had two free throws; they had two fouls the whole first half," said Bouchette. "You're not going to win games when you're not getting to the line. That was the biggest thing, we started taking it to the rim and scoring."
Lebanon Catholic travels to Myerstown to play Elco on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
"So far this season, those things have been going our way. Tonight it didn't," said Clentimack. "We swept our section, so everybody has the incentive to beat us. We're not going to sneak up on anybody. It doesn't get any easier, but I'm sure these guys will be up to the test."
Northern Lebanon hosts Hamburg tonight at 8 p.m.
"We're just going to keep trying to win. We had a win streak before Donegal; they were a little a speed bump, but we're back on track" said Light. "And we have people stepping up here and there, like Christian Morales and 'Sunshine' (Daymon Long). Everybody's playing great right now."