Matty Lopez and Shaq Ortiz lifted the Cedars to a key win Friday, surviving multiple runs from the Spartans.
The two previous quarters his team had suffered through the wrong end of an 11-3 run.
Closing in on the final moments of tight fourth quarter Friday, Lebanon senior Matty Lopez wasn't going to let the Cedars sink yet again.
Over the night's final 2:01, Lopez recorded three points, two assists and a game-sealing rebound to polish off a 64-57 win over section foe Garden Spot. The victory snapped a two-game slide for Lebanon (10-3, 7-1 Lancaster-Lebanon), which received a team-high 21 points from junior Shaq Ortiz and a dozen courtesy of Lopez.
"I realized I had to pick it up a little bit defensively and offensively and help my team out a little more," Lopez said of the game's finish. "I wanted to pick it up and show everyone that I can score."
The Spartans trailed for the final 6:36, despite holding a significant height advantage with 6-foot-8 Kyle Gordon and 6-foot-6 Brett Cataudella, who earlier had spurred them to strong finishes in the second and third periods.
Already shortchanged in the post against Garden Spot’s twin towers, the Cedars suffered another set-back when starting forward Felix Kortright (9 points) picked up a pair of fouls in the night's first four minutes. His absence initiated a tit-for-tat sequence that produced eight lead changes until Lebanon’s Dante Vargas hit from NBA range to close the opening quarter at 18-14 after an Allan Escoto layup.
Vargas then struck again from downtown to jump-start the second, though the Cedars hit only one other field goal through halftime, as Ortiz and Escoto joined Kortright in foul trouble. Their offensive woes also lay in the Spartans’ mid-quarter switch to a 2-3 zone, and Garden Spot (6-6, 3-5) took full advantage with their initial quarter-closing run that produced a two-point halftime lead.
"That was tough trying to combat them," Lebanon coach Tim Speraw said. "Logan (Blouch) gave good minutes playing against a big and having our guards, like Matty, rebound better helped."
Starting guard Justin Baker sparked the Cedars at the outset of the third with his all-around performance that eventually led to a seven-point advantage. However, the Spartans pushed back, as Gordon scored three times near the end of the period, his last a tap-in to beat the buzzer for a 48-45 lead.
And that's when Lopez went to work, hitting six of eight free throws in the final quarter and snaring almost a half-dozen boards to keep the Cedars ahead following a go-ahead Ortiz floater.
"I love it," Lopez said of rebounding. "That's a big part of my game — getting the ball and then getting it out quickly."
Lebanon's final basket registered in that exact fashion, initiated by a Lopez board at 18 seconds to go that transformed into a long assist to Danny Caricabeur, whose open-court lay-in left no doubt that the losing streak was over. Caricabeur also held Spartans starting guard Branden Bradley to four points. Garden Spot's Jordan Shewbridge led his team with 17.
"I think this gives us our swag back," Lopez said. "I think this was one win of many that we're going to have. And I think we're back on track."
Cedars guard Cam Shaak has been ruled out for the remainder of the season with a knee injury. He is set for surgery next week.
Lebanon 64, Garden Spot 57
Garden Spot (57)
Branden Bradley 2 0-0 4, Jacob Arndt 1 2-2 5, Joe Carver 3 0-0 6, Damien Young 1 0-0 2, Brett Cataudella 6 1-2 13, Cameron Sensenig 2 0-0 4, Jordan Shewbridge 6 1-1 17, Kyle Gordon 3 0-1 6. Totals — 24 4-6 57.
Danny Caricabeur 2 1-3 5, Justin Baker 1 2-2 5, Shaq Ortiz 9 3-4 21, Allan Escoto 2 1-2 5, Dante Vargas 3 0-0 8, Matty Lopez 2 7-10 12, Sebastian Seirra 0 0-1 0, Felix Kortright 3 3-4 9. Totals — 27 6-10 68.
Garden Spot_ 14_ 16 _ 18_ 9_ — _ 57
Lebanon_ 18_ 10 _ 17_ 19— _ 64
3-point goals — GS 5 (Shewbridge 4, Arndt). Leb 3 (Vargas 2, Lopez).