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What a time to be part of the Lebanon Cedars boys basketball program.
After coach Tim Speraw reached one of the biggest milestones of his career earlier this week, the Cedars won the 2017 Section One championship, taking care of Penn Manor 61-39 on Friday at Lebanon High School.
Lebanon clinched the section title with its win and Cedar Crest’s 61-57 loss at home to Manheim Township.
Once the game was over, the Cedars and their faithful anxiously waited to hear the final score from the Falcon cage.
A few minutes later, it was time to cut down the net.
“It felt good ... a lot of hard work was put into it,” Lebanon coach Tim Speraw said. “The kids just came together. I knew this was going to be a year where we could do something special or fight issues, and the kids decided they wanted to do something special. They feed off each other, and I couldn’t be happier for these group of kids. They put in the time, and stepped up when they needed to.”
Luis Aquino-Rios, who led the Cedars with 16 points, says it feels great to feel the vindication of achieving a goal since the preseason.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” Aquino-Rios said. “In the beginning of the season, we talked as a team, and wanted to work for it. To finally achieve it really means a lot.”
Speraw, however, has had plenty to celebrate this week, after earning his 100th career win in Tuesday’s 69-44 victory against Warwick, in addition to a section title – a week that he says goes down as one of the most memorable weeks he’s had.
“I’d say in coaching, yeah,” Speraw said. “To win the section, that means a lot to us. It’s been a while since we’ve won Section 1.”
But for Speraw, personal milestones are one thing, but having an impact on each player he coaches is what makes the job worthwhile, certainly leading to the success he’s had.
“When I first got the job, I was hoping to be here for as long as I could,” Speraw said. “Obviously a lot has changed since then. I got married and have two kids. Life changes. I’m glad I’m still here and was able to get 100, but that wasn’t something I ever looked at. As I look back, I think of the different kids I’ve had the pleasure of coaching ... kids who have made an impact not only on me, but in society. What the kids do outside of here is what means a lot.”
And it’s something Aquino-Rios truly appreciates.
“It means a lot. Being a part of it is a special feeling,” Aquino-Rios said. “He’s hard on me because he wants me to get better. He’s always there for me. He wants the best for each and every one of us, and that means a lot. It’s more than basketball. He wants us to be good kids in the future. He’s just a great coach and I’m glad to play for him. He’s a special guy.”
As if a section title and Speraw reaching the century mark wasn’t enough, the Cedars still have something else to play for – an unbeaten section record.
Lebanon can achieve that by winning its final three section games against Conestoga Valley (Tuesday), at Hempfield (Feb. 3), and against cross-town rival Cedar Crest (Feb. 7).
But it’s still a day-by-day approach for the Cedars.
“We’re more focused on Tuesday. We make it a point to never look ahead,” Speraw said. “Obviously, that would make it that much more special. But our next goal is making a run in L-L’s.”