See the top 5 plays from the Cedars' 59-48 win over the Blazers in Wednesday's Lancaster-Lebanon League Semifinals. Matt Catrillo/GameTimePA.com
One thing that was clear from Lebanon’s league tournament quarterfinals win Monday was the need to find a faster start offensively.
And as it’s been all year, any time the Cedars need someone to step up, it could be just about anyone who is capable of doing so.
Wednesday, it was Dante Vargas’ turn.
Thanks to five threes and a 24-point night, Vargas helped get Lebanon off to a much faster start en route to a 59-48 win over Lancaster Mennonite at Cedar Crest High School in the Lancaster-Lebanon League semifinals.
With the win, the Cedars are bound for the L-L championship game Friday at 7 p.m. at Manheim Township against Lancaster Catholic, which defeated Hempfield 35-19 in the other semifinal Wednesday.
“It’s very rewarding. I’m at a loss of words,” Vargas said. “Coach said we haven’t won an L-L championship in a long time (since 2004). That’s been one of our four main goals of winning the section, leagues, districts and making states. We did one of them, and we have the chance to get the second one Friday.”
“It means a lot,” Lebanon coach Tim Speraw said. “It’s always a goal at the beginning of the year, and to see it come to fruition means a lot.”
All five of Vargas’ threes came in the first half, as part of 19 first-half points, with the final three beating the halftime buzzer.
“Honestly, I thought it was going off the side of the backboard, but it went in,” Vargas said. “I was thinking before the game how tough it was going to be. I just did my part and stepped up. My teammates were finding me and I was knocking down my shots.”
Having teammates who have the full ability to put the team on their own backs on any given night is what Vargas says makes everyone so comfortable offensively; even when everything wasn't the cleanest offensively at times during the season.
Vargas said, “It makes me feel really good because we don’t need one person to do it. We all can do it. We’re all averaging almost the same amount of points a night. It just takes one person to step up and do their job.”
For Speraw, while it’s just another night of seeing a different guy step up in the scoring department, it’s also about other guys playing well in their different roles that help make everything run as one cohesive unit.
“We do everything as a team,” Speraw said. “We have a lot of guys who can attack the rim and shoot the ball. Obviously Dante was the spark, but sometimes it's Cam (Shaak), Luis (Aquino-Rios), or Shaq (Ortiz). It’s just another guy stepping up each night. Dante had the points, but it was a lot of other guys with the intangibles you don’t see.”
It was also important for Speraw to see his team bounce back with a better start offensively than in Monday’s quarterfinal win over Ephrata.
“It’s always emphasized,” Speraw said. “If the ball bounces your way and you knock down a couple of shots … that’s what we did. Obviously having Dante knocking down a couple of early shots helped, but we were getting the ball inside and getting a couple of drives. That changes the whole complexion of the game.”
Now as the Cedars turn their attention to the Crusaders, looking for their first L-L championship in 13 years to be exact, Speraw says it’ll be the same approach as always.
Speraw said, “I haven’t seen them on film yet this year. I’ll watch them, get a game plan come Friday and be ready to roll.”