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IMG_6953 BY JEFF FALK

LEBANON – Lay-ins. Stick backs. Drives. Mid-range jumpers. Long-range jumpers. Free throws. And of course, three-pointers.

The Lebanon boys’ basketball team has the ability to score the basketball in a variety of different ways. That’s the technical way to explain it.

As for more social terminology: The Cedars like to share.

IMG_6950On Friday night during the first round of its own tip-off tournament, Lebanon’s unselfish play netted it a convincing 69-56 triumph over Lancaster Mennonite. Consistently beating their man off the dribble and looking for one another, the Cedars were at their best during a third-quarter in which they tallied 25 points and opened a 15-point advantage.

The outcome moved Lebanon High into Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. championship game of the event, opposite Elco, which took care of Muhlenberg 78-33 in the opener of the doubleheader. The Cedars are coming off a 2014-15 campaign in which they went 13-11, didn’t win the Lancaster-Lebanon Section Two title and didn’t win a postseason game.

“I don’t think anything really surprised me,” said Lebanon head coach Tim Speraw. “We played well as a team. That’s the thing I’m really happy with. We’re coming together.

IMG_6910“It’s part of having depth. It’s part of being unselfish,” continued Speraw. “I can’t wait to go and see the film and see how many assists we had. Everyone’s always happy when they’re sharing. We’re pushing the ball for opportunities. But if we don’t have opportunities, we have offenses to run.”

Lebanon led and played well throughout, but never better than it did in the third period.

Sitting on a 30-22 halftime cushion, the Cedars pushed their advantage to a dozen on back-to-back driving lay-ups from Fleix Kortright and Allen Escoto to open the third period. Then late in the stanza, the Cedars notched nine unanswered – on a couple of buckets from Kortright, a pair of deuces by Camryn Shaak and a trey from Logan Blouch – to push their lead to 53-34.

IMG_7042That would prove to be the Cedars’ biggest lead, and Lancaster Mennonite didn’t come closer than 55-42 the rest of the way.

“I think that was the key stretch,” said Speraw. “I thought we were wearing on them a little bit at the end of the first half. I thought our pressure wore on them.

“I thought we played really well in spurts,” Speraw added. “I don’t think we played really well all the time. Our kids did a great job of cleaning it up and doing what they needed to do. It’s the first game.”

Playing without inside presence Shaquell Ortiz, Lebanon got a game-high and career-high 18 points out of Kortright, a strong sophomore. Kortright was complemented by Escoto and his 15 points, and Shaak’s 11.

IMG_6931“With Allen, it was just hustle,” said Speraw. “He got his hands on a lot of rebounds. If he didn’t come up withe ball, he tipped it to a teammate. He got us a lot of second-chance points, a lot of second-chance possessions. I wish we were stronger. But sometimes we trade quickness for strength.

“As a coach, I’m looking at a lot of different things,” added Speraw. “One glaring thing is turnovers. Another glaring thing is defense. They (the Blazers) shot the heck out of the ball. How many threes did they have? But we made adjustments.”

The Cedars carried their eight-point margin to the locker room, thanks to a couple of charity tosses by senior guard Justin Baker, with one tick left in the second period. Shaak had given Lebanon High a 24-17 lead three minutes into the second stanza, but the Cedars went without a point for the next 3:34.

“We were ready to play against someone else,” said Speraw. “We’re blessed with depth and that makes practices incredibly competitive. Every day is a competition. Tonight, everyone got to play, and a lot of players got substantial minutes.

IMG_7046“I’d say we’re nine or ten deep, somewhere in there,” Speraw continued. “Beyond that, I’m comfortable with the next group too. If we can keep people happy, we can end some games.”

On three buckets from Escoto and a driving lay-in by Kortright, Lebanon tallied eight of the game’s first 11 points. The Cedars extended their lead to 15-8, on a Khalique Washington jumper with 2:07 left in the opening period.

IMG_6974“It’s meaningful for us because we’re on our home floor,” said Speraw. “This is a long, long season. Tonight and tomorrow are the first two steps. But getting off on the right foot is an important part of the journey.

“We’ve got to play the way we did tonight, whether we’re winning or losing,” continued Speraw. “The question is: ‘Can we talk?’ ‘Can we keep the intensity up when the numbers are reversed?’ It’s going to be how we handle adversity, because there will be adversity.”

To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com, or to see more go to www.http://lebanonsportsbuzz.com/gallery-ten/.

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IMG_69922015 Lebanon Boys’ Basketball Schedule

DATE OPPONENT TIME LOCATION
12/11
@Manheim Twp.
7:30 PM Manheim Twp. High School
12/14
Penn Manor
7:30 PM Lebanon High School
12/16
@Warwick
7:30 PM Warwick High School
12/18 *
@Conestoga Valley
7:30 PM Conestoga Valley High School
12/21 *
Ephrata
7:30 PM Lebanon High School
12/23 *
@Solanco
7:30 PM Solanco High School
01/02
@Governor Mifflin
1:00 PM Governor Mifflin High School
01/05 *
@Elizabethtown
7:30 PM Elizabethtown High School
01/08 *
Garden Spot
7:30 PM Lebanon High School
01/11
Hempfield
7:30 PM Lebanon High School
01/13
@McCaskey
7:30 PM McCaskey High School
01/15
Cedar Crest
7:30 PM Lebanon High School
01/19 *
Conestoga Valley
7:30 PM Lebanon High School
01/22 *
@Ephrata
7:30 PM Ephrata High School
01/25 *
Solanco
7:30 PM Lebanon High School
01/28 *
Elizabethtown
7:30 PM Lebanon High School
02/02 *
@Garden Spot
7:30 PM Garden Spot High School
02/04
@Hershey
7:30 PM Hershey High School

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