BY JEFF FALK
LEBANON – It’s not the size of the Beaver in the fight. It’s the size of the fight in the Beaver.
During Saturday night’s consolation game of the Lebanon High Booster Club’s Christmas Tournament, an under-manned Lebanon Catholic girls’ basketball squad displayed what has always been its trademark pluck, spunk and determination. The only thing the Beavers didn’t take away was the dividend, as they dropped a 59-31 decision to Twin Valley.
Playing with just six players, the Beavers hung with the Raiders for about a half. But as Twin Valley was wearing it down, and eventually wearing it out, one couldn’t help but wonder about the toll that Lebanon Catholic’s current set of circumstances has taken on its players.
With the setback, Lebanon Catholic fell to 3-5 on the season. Twin Valley improved to 2-4 on the campaign.
“They’re hanging in there,” said Lebanon Catholic head coach Patti Hower of her troops. “We’re hoping to make it through the season. I admire players like Sarah Chobanoff, who hasn’t played since ninth grade and probably wouldn’t be playing if we didn’t need her.
“They’re showing a lot of character,” continued Hower. “And they’re sacrificing time to put a team on the floor. We’re working hard. We’re not complaining. We go into every game thinking we’re going to be competitive.”
The Beavers played their best basketball early in the second quarter, after falling into an 18-7 hole. Mixing in a little 2-3 zone with its man-to-man defense, Lebanon Catholic pieced together a 9-2 spurt.
Sammy Fortna nailed a trey, then added four consecutive free throws. And when Chobanoff converted a lay-up, Catholic was within 20-16.
“There’s things we need to do to get better that we didn’t do tonight,” said Hower. “I saw us battling on the boards, but we weren’t able to rip the ball away from anyone. I did see some positives, but I also saw some negatives I thought we had under control.”
Twin Valley ended the first half on an 11-4 run and took a 31-20 margin to the locker room. Then the Raiders opened the third stanza with a 13-2 burst to extend their advantage to 22 points.
“We did not play very well,” said Hower. “We’ve got to do a better job of handling the ball and catching the ball. We had way too many turnovers. And we struggle against anyone who has a big girl.”
Fortna pumped in 14 points, while fellow senior Helene Reist complemented her with nine. Reist was named to the all-tournament team.
“Helene has some experience, but she’s getting a lot of attention,” said Hower. “And Sammy has some experience. But the other girls don’t have a lot of experience.”
Thanks in part to a Reist bucket, Lebanon Catholic only trailed 9-7 late in the opening period. But Twin Valley notched the next nine points.
“I want to compete in every game,” said Hower. “I want to be competitive.
“They (the Raiders) have a good big girl,” Hower continued. “They didn’t shine, but they didn’t turn it over. And they have three nice freshmen.”