LEBANON – In an ideal world, a basketball team would enter the regular season already clicking on all cylinders.
In the real world, though, getting all the kinks worked out in time for league play will probably be enough for a successful year.
On Friday night, the Lebanon boys basketball team showed signs of hitting its stride in a 64-52 win over Manheim Township in the Lancaster-Lebanon League Section 1 opener.
“I feel better than we did a couple of days ago,” Lebanon coach Tim Speraw said. “I think we got better tonight.”
The Cedars (2-2, 1-0) looked considerably better than they had in losses the last two games when they posted a 35-11 lead midway through the second quarter. Lebanon made six 3-point shots over the Blue Streaks' zone defense in the first 10 minutes to help build the cushion.
“We preach to take what is available,” Speraw said. “We had some open looks tonight. We had those looks in the last two games and didn't make any.”
Camryn Shaak had four of the six 3-pointers. Shaquell Ortiz and Felix Kortright Roman had the others.
Lebanon slowed down after that, though, holding the ball against the zone on a few occasions. Manheim Twp. (2-2, 0-1) got to within 37-20 at halftime and to within 38-32 with 3:16 left in the third quarter.
Tyler Crespo scored 11 of his game-high 20 points in that 21-3 Blue Streak run.
“He is a flat-out great player,” Speraw said. “I don't know that any of (his shots) were uncontested. We always had a hand up.”
Khalique Washington made a jumper with 2:42 left in the third to make it 40-32 and end a 10:44 field goal drought for the Cedars. A trey by Brendan Mellott got the Blue Streaks back within five, the closest it had been since the first two minutes, before Luis Aquino-Rios had a hoop and free throw for a 43-35 Cedar lead after three periods.
Lebanon almost completely abandoned jumpers in the fourth quarter, and working the ball inside got the home team up 54-40 midway through the final period.
“We had them a little more spread out,” Speraw said of the last eight minutes. “They were trapping, and we had guys open on the back side.”
The Blue Streaks made it interesting again, getting within 56-52 with 1:50 left on a Mike Brockway layup. But Rios answered with a layup, and then had two free throws with 55 seconds left to put the game away.
Rios scored 10 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter, with all four fourth-quarter field goals within a few feet of the net. Ortiz also scored 15 and Shaak finished with 14.
Rios had a game high six rebounds, as the Cedars held a 30-17 advantage on the boards.