Notebook: Lebanon County boys hoops playoff races heating up
After another week of Lebanon County boys hoops, postseason races are beginning to heat up.
Here’s some leftover notes and nuggets from the week that was on the high school hardwood:
Aquino-Rios leading the way in Lebanon’s memorable run
Along with their size, the Cedars have found their rhythm offensively, leading to finding themselves in full control of Section One.
One player that’s made a difference in the scoring department has been Luis Aquino-Rios, who led the way with a game-high 17 points in Friday’s monumental win at Cedar Crest, which saw Lebanon break a seven-year losing streak to the Falcons.
Aquino-Rios continues to lead the team in scoring with 12.4 ppg.
“I’ve just been attacking the basket,” Aquino-Rios said. “When I attack, everything opens up, I pass it more, and my teammates see that. Once that starts happening, I start getting open looks and keep scoring.”
Though he thinks Aquino-Rios can still improve, Cedars coach Tim Speraw notices how the rest of the team feeds off No. 23’s energy.
“He’s just steady,” Speraw said. “He’s still learning and making mistakes, but we’ll live with those because what he does outside of just handling the ball…getting on the floor, rebounding, and giving people open looks. He does so much for us. He’s such a valuable player.”
Cedar Crest needs a quick recovery
We’ve all heard the approach of the “24-hour rule” teams usually enforce after wins and losses.
Trying to shake off a 19-point loss at home to a cross-town rival is the perfect illustration of this mentality.
It’s vital for the Falcons to do so, now finding themselves battling for their league playoff lives.
“It’s a tough one to take,” said Cedar Crest coach Tom Smith. “We’ll let this one sink in, then hit the gym and continue to get better. We’ll watch and learn from the film, and continue to take steps forward.”
Heading into Tuesday’s game at McCaskey, the Falcons are in a four-way tie for second place in Section One with the Red Tornado, Warwick, and Hempfield. So Tuesday becomes a monster game, with it being a virtual must-win for both teams.
Cedar Crest is still in pretty decent shape for districts however, now the eighth of 12 teams that qualify in Class 6A.
Palmyra stays alive for division crown
After an uncharacteristic performance and one-point loss at Lower Dauphin earlier in the week, Friday’s win at Mechanicsburg was a must-have for the Cougars, in order to keep their hopes of a division and league title alive.
Palmyra turned to its defense to scrap out a “W,” including shutting down the Wildcats' Cade Alioth to just 3-for-7 shooting, after Alioth torched the Cougars in their first meeting in December with 26 points.
Palmyra remains a game behind Mechanicsburg for first place in the MPC-Keystone.
One advantage the Cougars have in the race for the division crown – having five of their last seven at home, while the Wildcats have six of their last nine on the road.
Northern Lebanon wants to take advantage of facing section teams a second time
In what’s been a growing year for the Vikings, they know they can still win some games to finish the year strong – especially remembering they let a few games against section rivals slip away.
They want to make sure they take full advantage of the opportunity to play those teams again – this time coming away with a win.
“I told our guys for us…all these 50-50 games…Annville-Cleona, Columbia, and Elco…are games we’ve been in. Columbia and Annville…we led the entire game. We’ve got to get a couple of them, but all three have been on the road. Now we get all three of those teams at home the second-time around. So hopefully, if we can continue to improve, I think we’ll be OK.”
NL recently dropped its matchup with Elco on Thursday, 59-52. Elco travels to Fredericksburg Feb. 7.
The Vikings dropped their first date with A-C, 56-49, on Dec. 16, with the next match up Tuesday.
Columbia comes north Jan. 24, after taking the first game with NL, 61-52, on Dec. 21.