Highlights from the Cedars' 59-50 win over the Red Tornado Friday. Matt Catrillo/GameTimePA.com
Lebanon coach Tim Speraw clearly wasn’t happy with how his boys basketball team was playing in the early going of another clash with section rival McCaskey.
Shots weren’t falling, turnovers were occurring, and the Cedars just didn’t quite look like an 11-win team that’s been dominating section play all season.
But despite an overall uncharacteristic performance, Lebanon still found a way to win, pulling out a 59-50 win over the Red Tornado (5-9, 4-5) Friday at Lebanon High School to remain unbeaten in Section One play.
With the game tied at 10 after a first quarter that saw five Cedars turnovers (18 for the game), Speraw went right to his bench, helping the Cedars jump out to a 6-0 run to start the second quarter, which turned into a 10-point halftime lead.
Speraw said, “If we’re not playing well and we look to someone else to come off the bench, we expect those guys to do their job. We got great minutes from Sabu (Pereyra), Felix (Kortright) and Carlos Rivera gave us great minutes. Sebby (Sierra) as well. They gave us a spark and a little bit of a lead. That’s what the bench is there for. We’re a team. It’s not just the starters, it's everybody. I’m proud of those guys.”
Speraw says being able to have that type of depth is critical the rest of the way.
“Some teams have really tight lineups,” he said. “I like that I have guys that can come in and we don’t lose anything. It’s important to have, especially if we’re going to make a playoff run.”
Though it’s strange to anticipate a team like Lebanon (12-3, 9-0) coming out flat in a rivalry game at home where it also still has plenty to play for, Speraw says games like this can still happen.
“You’ll have that,” he said. “It was ugly most of the game, but we still have more points than they did. That’s all I can ask for.”
And the Cedars' starters still came through with some big shots with the game hanging in the balance, including a clutch hoop-and-the-harm from Khalique Washington early in the fourth, making it 37-33 Lebanon, after Washington missed the free throw.
“We needed that shot really bad,” Washington said, who led Lebanon with 13 points. “They were on a run, and we were trying to slow it down and get on our own run. We got a big stop, and I was able to get the and-one, but just didn’t make the free throw.”
Speraw said, “Khalique was working hard in there. He got their big guy (William Joseph) in foul trouble, which was huge down the stretch because he was blocking a lot of shots. He made good post moves and finished well, and other guys stepped up and hit shots at different times. It’s a next-man-up mentality. I’d rather have that than have to rely on one guy all the time.”
Camryn Shaak also had some big shots from beyond the arc, finishing with 12 points.
So consider it a lesson learned for the Cedars.
“We’re not always going to come out and play great,” Speraw said. “Everyone’s not going to have a great game every night. It was a good experience. They hit some shots down the stretch, and forced some turnovers. I’m a little unhappy with us turning the ball over … but we’ll fix it.”
Through it all, everyone has each other’s back.
Washington said, “We’ve been in tough situations already this season, even though the scores from previous games don’t show it. We’re coming together as a team and as a family, so coming together like that wasn’t a hard task for us.”