ANNVILLE - The Northern Lebanon boys' basketball team won a championship this weekend.
A championship with a small 'c' maybe, but a championship nonetheless.
And in doing so, the Vikings did nothing to dispel the notion that they'll be a contender for some more significant titles as the season goes on.
One night after inflicting an epic 87-49 pounding on Middletown, the Vikings turned their attention to county rival Annville-Cleona and the championship game of A-C's tip-off tourney.
The host Little Dutchmen put up a better fight than Middletown, but were still no match for Northern Lebanon on Saturday night, falling victim to 12 Viking 3-point baskets in a 77-57 outcome at Annville-Cleona High School.
Junior wing Isaac Ray led the Vikes' perimeter bomb squad with 34 points and six treys, and tournament MVP Sam Light and backcourt mate Richard Iwuagwu added 15 points apiece and five 3's between them.
A-C, fronted by 25 points from all-tournament pick and senior point guard Paxson Hayes, hung in for much of the first half but simply couldn't withstand the Vikings' frenzied pace and flurry of 3-pointers, 10 of which went down in the first half.
"We shot the ball well," said Northern Lebanon head coach Gary Bouchette, in classic understatement. "I told them, though, you can live and die by that '3'. I think in the first half that's all we shot. In the second half, we got a lot more stuff going to the rim. That's something we needed to do.
"It's a great start. I can't remember when we started this well. I don't think we ever won this tournament, and to me they're somewhat convincing wins. It's not like we fought down to the wire or anything. We played well as a team and put some points on the board."
Indeed, the Vikings' were about more than the Ray-Light-Iwuagwu trio this weekend, getting nice unsung hero efforts from role players Daymon Long, Cristian Morales and David Brooks, to name a few.
That said, there was no denying the impact Northern Lebanon's perimeter threats had on the event.
"We're quicker than most," Bouchette said of his guards. "And we have shooters, so it is a challenge. It is tough to defend us."
It was impossible to defend the Vikes in the first half on Saturday, particularly Ray, who drained all six of his 3's in the first half on the way to 24 of his 34 points.
A-C was up 13-10 after a Lucas Bush bucket with 3:05 left in the first, but the lead was quickly gone for good after Ray, Light, then Ray again buried consecutive 3's to ignite an 11-0 run that set the tone for the eventual rout.
"Isaac Ray," said Light, flashing a smile when asked about NL's 3-point barrage. "He's great. He's gaining confidence game by game. It's not just me. Isaac was on fire, and he did a lot of little things. He handled the ball and did everything great."
"That rim keeps getting bigger and bigger when you're on like that," Bouchette said with a laugh, of Ray's outburst. "I'm not gonna tell him not to shoot."
To their credit, the Little Dutchmen, who also got 10 points from sophomore forward Bush, weathered the storm that Ray's first batch of 3's created and were still down just 28-21 midway through the second.
But Ray struck for three more triples in the final 4:47 of the half, including a deep, deep '3' just before the buzzer to send NL into the halftime break in complete control up 44-29.
Game, set and match, Vikings.
"It's amazing," Light said of the Vikes' quick start to the season. "Not only are we really good, but we have fun together. Everyone down to the last role player on the bench gets involved.
"All of us together, when everyone's involved, I think we're a pretty tough team to stop. It's a lot of fun."
The fun may just be beginning."