The Lebanon High boys basketball team enjoys a fairly comfortable lead in the Section One standings, but the Cedars know there’s no time to relax.
Especially with a desperate McCaskey team coming to town Friday night.
Coming into their second matchup of the season with Lebanon, the Red Tornado is looking to snap a three-game losing streak, while also trying to stay alive for a Lancaster-Lebanon playoff spot in Section One and keep their slim district playoff hopes alive.
But after enjoying a 10-point win over McCaskey (5-8, 4-4) in December, the Cedars (11-3, 8-0) are keeping the same approach for their second meeting with their section rival.
“We prepare the way we normally would for them,” said Lebanon coach Tim Speraw. “Obviously, they’re in a different situation than us, but we got to make sure we just keep our focus, and do the things that have made us successful so far. McCaskey’s always dangerous. They’re going to bring athletes, they have a bunch of shooters. Hopefully we’ll get the same outcome.”
With its loss Tuesday to Cedar Crest, McCaskey is a game behind the Falcons, Warwick, and Hempfield, who all come into Friday in a three-way tie for second place.
In the Class 6A power rankings, the Red Tornado is 16th, chasing Wilson for the 12th and final playoff spot.
The Cedars on the other hand, want to maintain that significant lead in the section, while also keeping their section record unblemished.
And facing a desperate team like the Red Tornado has definitely been a good way for Lebanon to maintain its focus.
“It challenges us just a little bit more,” Speraw said. “If it’s a team that’s out of it, sometimes they just fold when they get down. I’m sure McCaskey won’t fold on us. They’re going to test us, so we got to come to play like we always do.”
Camryn Shaak, who is Lebanon’s second leading scorer at 11.2 ppg, had plenty of success in December’s meeting, with a game-high 19 points, including 7-of-8 from the foul line.
“It’s not just me or Luis, it’s a whole team effort,” Shaak said. “It’s just moving the ball around. We get the ball inside to Khalique (Washington)…that definitely opens it up for us….then having Shaq (Ortiz) inside, Luis (Aquino-Rios) getting inside, it opens me and Dante (Vargas) up and a couple of our other shooters.”
Offensively for the Red Tornado, Speraw says while they still can be potent, a lack of a No. 1 guy has hurt them this season.
Speraw said, “They’ve had (Kobe) Gantz the last couple of years. They had (Antanee) Pinkard a couple years before that. I think it’s kind of Ricky Cruz, but I don’t think they have that one main person they can go to all the time. But that doesn’t mean they’re not dangerous. They got some ball players there.”
But after holding Cruz, whose McCaskey’s leading scorer (17.8 ppg), to 12 points in their previous meeting, Shaak says Lebanon must stick with what worked.
“We get a game plan,” he said. “If we stick to that, we can stop anybody. That’s how we feel about that.”
Bottom line, Speraw says Friday will be just another slugfest between two rivals.
“It’s been a strong rivalry since before I played,” he said. “I don’t remember a time where the games weren’t intense. It's two cities schools going at each other. It’ll be fun.”
Tip-off Friday is at 7:30 p.m.