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BY JEFF FALK

LEBANON – Each player has gotten better individually as the season has progressed. And as they’ve improved, the Lebanon boys have gotten better as a basketball team.

But there’s more to it than that. As each member has grown into their role, the Cedars have become more versatile, more consistent, more tight-knit.

Lebanon has become harder to beat.

On Thursday night at Lebanon High School, in the semifinal round of the Lancaster-Lebanon League playoffs, the Cedars once again put forth a complete and cohesive effort, during a 55-36 dismantling of Cocalico. Lebanon played hard and together throughout, opened a comfortable margin late in the first half and then pulled away during the second 16 minutes of action.

The triumph – the Cedars’ tenth in their last 11 outings – propelled Lebanon, co-champions of Section Two, to 16-3 on the year and into Saturday’s 4 p.m. L-L championship game at Manheim Township, opposite Hempfield, a 57-52 victor over Lancaster Catholic in the other semifinal. The Cedars will be making their 14th appearance in the Lancaster-Lebanon League title tilt, and first since 2017.

Lebanon has won eight league championships, but none since 2004.

With the setback, Section Three champion Cocalico slipped to 13-4 on the season.

“I think it’s just been a consistent improvement,” said Lebanon head coach Tim Speraw. “I think it took a while because the kids had to find their roles. When they did it’s been huge for the team. But I’m not exactly sure when it happened.

“I think it (avoiding COVID-19) helped us in the preseason,” added Speraw. “But when the shutdown came, we went back to Square One. I think the most important thing was we had veteran kids. Every kid on the varsity played varsity or JV last year. We were just taking what they had and adding to their knowledge.”

“We’ve definitely improved throughout the year,” said Lebanon senior foward Braden Allwein. “We squeaked by Northern Lebanon in the first game. But I think as we kept picking up wins, we kept picking up confidence. Then we realized we were the team to beat.”

Down 7-5 early, Lebanon ran off 11 of the opening quarter’s final 15 points to take a 16-11 lead they would never relinquish. Luke Collins was responsible for seven of those Cedar points, while Allwein drained a three-pointer and Isaiah Rodriguez converted a foul shot.

“We’ve just been talking about focus,” said Speraw. “When it’s the postseason, everything matters, every possession matters. The first half was one of our better ones this season. For us to have that lead at halftime, it felt good. I’m just happy we’re moving on.

With Allwein netting five points and Demetrius Matthew converting a driving lay-up, Lebanon opened the second quarter with a 7-0 burst to push its advantage to 23-11. The Cedars also recorded the final seven points of the half, courtesy of Marquis Ferriera’s pull-up, Alex Rufe’s lay-in and Allwein’s deep, buzzer-beating ‘three’.

“That (the offensive execution) comes from having veteran guards,” said Speraw.”They’re (Collins and Ferriera) really seniors now. It shows. Luke’s like my coach on the court. He knows when I want to speed it up and when I want to slow it down.”

“I thought we moved the ball really well,” said Allwein. “We passed up good shots to get better shots.”

Allwein knocked down a total of four three-point field goals and led Lebanon with 16 points. Rodriguez popped for 11 points and Ferriera added ten.

On two-point field goals, Lebanon outscored Cocalico 36-20.

“He’s somewhat of our unsung hero,” said Speraw of Allwein. “It’s so great to see him go off. Defensively, he had the toughest assignment tonight (Eagle guard Carter Nuneville).

“Isaiah’s a heck of a ball player,” continued Speraw. “He pulled some moves out of his repertoire tonight. He battled. His effort and energy just keeps improving.”

“My role is ‘three’ and ‘D’,” said Allwein. “Knock down some shots when they come to me, and I usually get the toughest defensive assignment. But I just try to help the team any way I can.”

The Cedars’ only real struggle of the night came when they went without a point during the first four minutes of the second half, but Cocalico was only able to shave two points off its deficit during the time. Then, on the strength of five points from Rodriguez, a basket by Ferriera and another three-point buzzer-beater by Allwein, Lebanon closed the third period on a 12-4 run to extend its lead to 44-21.

“I think they’re easier to hit,” said Allwein of his pair of buzzer-beaters. “You don’t have time to think about it. You’ve just got to get them up quick.”

“I think we were five or six possessions into the third quarter, and we had taken only one shot and it was a bad one,” said Speraw. “But I looked up at the scoreboard and they (the Eagles) were only one score closer. We were trading bad offense for good defense, so I couldn’t be too upset about it.”

After Cocalico tallied the first five points of the fourth quarter, Lebanon was content to trade baskets with the Ealges the rest of the way.

“I don’t know if it makes it a bigger deal,” said Speraw, of qualifying for the L-L League championship game during the season of COVID-19. “It’s the Lancaster-Lebanon League championship. It’s something we talk about from Day One. Whenever we’re not getting the effort we need, we talk about the banners on the wall and the names on the wall. We start talking about the efforts they put in.”

“I think one of the biggest factors tonight was our last game against Warwick,” said Allwein, of Tuesday’s play-in victory over the Warriors. “I think after that, we knew we were the team to beat. Coming into the season, I knew we were going to be good. But I think that first win over Warwick at home gave us confidence.”

To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com

2021 Lebanon Boys’ Basketball Results

DateOpponentsOutcomes
12/11
7:00 pm
Northern Lebanon
at Lebanon
58
70

Nonleague
1/08
7:30 pm
Conestoga Valley
at Lebanon
57
58

League
1/11
7:30 pm
Ephrata
at Lebanon
48
55

League
1/16
12:00 pm
Lebanon
at Lower Dauphin
43
59

Nonleague
1/18
7:30 pm
Garden Spot
at Lebanon
31
47

Nonleague
1/19
8:00 pm
Lebanon
at Elizabethtown
54
39

League
1/23
2:30 pm
Lebanon
at Hershey
Postponed
Nonleague
1/26
7:30 pm
Lebanon
at Ephrata
58
20

League
1/29
8:00 pm
Lebanon
at Manheim Township
43
55

Nonleague
1/30
1:30 pm
Palmyra
at Lebanon
52
54

Nonleague
2/02
7:30 pm
Governor Mifflin
at Lebanon
Postponed
Nonleague
2/03
7:30 pm
Elizabethtown
at Lebanon
32
41

League
2/05
7:30 pm
Warwick
at Lebanon
43
58

League
2/06
1:30 pm
Exeter
at Lebanon
47
57

Nonleague
2/09
8:00 pm
Lebanon
at Conestoga Valley
54
42

League
2/11
7:30 pm
Lebanon
at McCaskey
Postponed
Nonleague
2/13
1:30 pm
Lebanon
at Warwick
55
62

League
2/17
7:30 pm
Cedar Crest
at Lebanon
31
68

Nonleague
2/19
7:30 pm
Lebanon
at Columbia
52
48

Nonleague
2/22
7:30 pm
Penn Manor
at Lebanon
58
74

Nonleague
2/23
7:00 pm
Lebanon
Warwick
at Cedar Crest
62
61

Playoff
2/25
7:00 pm
Cocalico
at Lebanon

Playoff

PIAA District Three

Class AAAAAA Power Rankings

AAAAAASchool W L T Rating TWP OWP TWPW OWPW TWPL OWPL
1Reading18-1-0 0.809542 0.965986 0.618332 21.30 183.15 0.75 113.05
2Wilson (3)15-1-0 0.803042 0.958333 0.613240 17.25 158.40 0.75 99.90
3Central Dauphin13-1-0 0.797478 0.955882 0.603872 16.25 132.55 0.75 86.95
4Muhlenberg13-2-0 0.771376 0.904153 0.609093 14.15 160.10 1.50 102.75
5Warwick13-2-0 0.742168 0.912536 0.533939 15.65 111.70 1.50 97.50
6Red Lion14-1-0 0.740722 0.956522 0.476967 16.50 125.80 0.75 137.95
7Cumberland Valley13-4-0 0.732518 0.843342 0.597067 16.15 152.70 3.00 103.05
8Lebanon14-3-0 0.731611 0.873995 0.557587 16.30 137.25 2.35 108.90
9Central York12-4-0 0.726968 0.816092 0.618038 14.20 167.55 3.20 103.55
10Manheim Township10-3-0 0.709501 0.845361 0.543450 12.30 106.00 2.25 89.05
11Hempfield (3)10-3-0 0.709483 0.845361 0.543411 12.30 96.70 2.25 81.25
12Cedar Cliff9-3-0 0.675850 0.803846 0.519411 10.45 111.05 2.55 102.75
13Central Dauphin East10-6-0 0.668956 0.730994 0.593132 12.50 148.55 4.60 101.90
14Governor Mifflin9-8-0 0.662560 0.626911 0.706130 10.25 217.70 6.10 90.60
15Waynesboro11-6-0 0.645720 0.703704 0.574851 12.35 154.75 5.20 114.45
16J P McCaskey7-7-0 0.636027 0.622302 0.652803 8.65 144.40 5.25 76.80
17Dallastown9-7-0 0.631814 0.650943 0.608433 10.35 165.95 5.55 106.80
18Harrisburg5-6-0 0.623133 0.570776 0.687124 6.25 137.15 4.70 62.45
19Carlisle8-8-0 0.581542 0.613924 0.541964 9.70 121.40 6.10 102.60
20Conestoga Valley6-8-0 0.551099 0.518519 0.590919 7.00 138.60 6.50 95.95
21William Penn6-10-0 0.547636 0.463087 0.650974 6.90 168.70 8.00 90.45
22Cedar Crest3-10-0 0.471143 0.327511 0.646694 3.75 140.85 7.70 76.95
23Penn Manor3-14-0 0.425622 0.245675 0.645557 3.55 158.00 10.90 86.75
24Chambersburg Area1-12-0 0.399573 0.119617 0.741742 1.25 172.90 9.20 60.20
25York County School of Technology2-16-0 0.306413 0.117318 0.537529 2.10 159.70 15.80 137.40

Lancaster-Lebanon League

Section Two Standings


LeagueOverall
WLPCTWLPCTPFPA
Lebanon710.8751630.8421058877
Warwick710.8751330.8131000729
Elizabethtown350.375570.417552616
Conestoga Valley350.375690.400835919
Ephrata080.0002140.125700876

Past Lancaster-Lebanon League

Boys’ Basketball Champions

1973: McCaskey

1974: Cocalico

1975: Ephrata

1976: Cedar Crest

1977: Cocalico

1978: Lebanon

1979: Lebanon

1980: McCaskey

1981: Warwick

1982: McCaskey

1983: McCaskey

1984: Hempfield

1985: Lebanon

1986: Lebanon

1987: Warwick

1988: Warwick

1989: Columbia

1990: Columbia

1991: Conestoga Valley

1992: Hempfield

1993: McCaskey

1994: Solanco

1995: Hempfield

1996: Lebanon

1997: Lebanon

1998: Lebanon

1999: Hempfield

2000: Hempfield

2001: McCaskey

2002: McCaskey

2003: Lancaster Catholic

2004: Lebanon

2005: McCaskey

2006: McCaskey

2007: McCaskey

2008: McCaskey

2009: Conestoga Valley

2010: Hempfield

2011: Hempfield

2012: McCaskey

2013: McCaskey

2014: Cedar Crest

2015: Cedar Crest

2016: McCaskey

2017: Lancaster Catholic

2018: Lampeter-Strasburg

2019: Manheim Township

2020: Cedar Crest

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