There’s a difference between luck and fortune. The Lebanon boys’ basketball team isn’t necessarily lucky, but the Cedars are fortunate.
A little explanation might be in order.
Since the official start of practice more than two weeks ago, Lebanon has not had a practice, meeting or an organized gathering cancelled or postponed by the Coronavirus. That is not something that can be said by most local athletic programs preparing for the upcoming winter season.
Not only is that fact refreshing and hope-filled, it may provide Lebanon with a slight advantage – especially early on – when the COVID-19-clouded season does tip off in earnest.
“Absolutely, we feel fortunate,” said Lebanon head coach Tim Speraw. “I’ve talked to other coaches who have been frustrated that they couldn’t start on time. We’re going about our business. We’re going to make sure everyone is safe. We’re trying to do our part.
“We have not been interrupted,” Speraw added. “We’ve been at it since the start of practice. I don’t want to say it’s going as normal as every year. But the kids have been phenomenal with the mask mandate. We’ve been wearing them. They’re not complaining, but I can tell it’s bothersome. It’s definitely an adjustment. I think overall, the kids have responded really, really well.”
Lebanon High will open its 2020-21 campaign at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, December 12th, at powerful Wilson.
“It’s changing every day,” said Speraw, of the Cedars’ shortened schedule. “Other than the first game, nothing is set in stone. It’s a fluid schedule at this point. We’re just going to take it one game at a time.
“We’re just hopeful for the season,” added Speraw. “Every day we can get into the gym is a blessing. We’re going to do our part to keep our kids safe. We’re preaching to the kids to do the right thing, on and off the basketball court. We’re also in constant contact with our trainers.”
By their high standards, the Cedars are coming off a somewhat disappointing 12-10 campaign. Lebanon was competitive and showed promise every time out, but there were times when push came to shove that the Cedars simply couldn’t get over the hump.
“I thought we made some strides (last season),” said Speraw, who’s in his 11th season as Lebanon’s head man. “We were young, but we lost a bunch of close games. I thought we left a couple of games on the table.”
Like most teams with elevated expectations, the Cedars’s lineup will feature a ‘Big Three’. Senior ‘big’ Isaiah Rodriguez, junior Marquis Ferreira and junior Luke Collins are all talented leaders who will help Lebanon balance the floor and score.
“We’ll look to them a lot for everything,” said Speraw. “At the beginning of the season, we’re going to play off our experience. All of our varsity players were in the program last year. We’re moving ahead at a quick pace. We have kids with good basketball IQs.
“Something that hurt us last year was our foul shooting,” continued Speraw. “We left a couple of games out there because of it. That’s been a focus in practice. That and just making sure everybody on the team is doing their job defensively.”
The Cedars also possess a handful of kids who will be learning roles as they develop. That list starts with seniors Alex Rufe, Braden Allwein and Yefrandy Pena, and continues with juniors Kam Uffner and Kevin Smith and sophomore Demetrius Matthew.
“Our goals are the same as usual,” said Speraw. “We want to win the section (Two of the Lancaster-Lebanon League). We want to make a run in leagues, we want to make a run in districts and we want to get to states. That’s been our goals for 11 straight years. That’s not changing.
“I think we need a bigger buy-in right now, with our kids.” Speraw continued. “I want our kids to know what we’re doing and what we’re trying to accomplish. We have to make sure the right guys are getting shots and that everyone is getting playing time. Discipline is going to be a huge thing for us.”
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