Randolph Speller led the Red Tornadoes with 18 points and surpassed 1,000 for his career in Wednesday's third quarter
LANCASTER - The Red Tornadoes unleashed an avalanche Wednesday night, and almost as soon as the Lebanon boys basketball team's hopes for a road victory arrived, they were buried.
Trailing by more than 20 after three quarters, the Cedars fell at McCaskey, 82-71, done in by non-stop transition and on-target shooting. Randolph Speller registered as one of five Red Tornadoes in double figures, cashing in for 18 points on the same night he surpassed 1,000 for his career. Meanwhile, Allan Escoto carried Lebanon (11-4, 8-2 Lancaster-Lebanon) at both ends, eventually rewarded with a game-best 24 points.
McCaskey (11-3, 9-1) scored at least 19 in every quarter and led from nearly start to finish.
"If you come out on them for the 3-pointers, they're going around you for layups. It's kind of a pick your poison," Cedars coach Tim Speraw said. "Couple kids got hot for them and it's tough. Sometimes that's us, sometimes it's the other team, and tonight it wasn't us."
Red Tornado junior Ricky Cruz (13 points) personified the double-threat his team posed early, connecting on a fast-break layup and left-corner 3 in the opening minutes to push McCaskey ahead. As Cruz eventually slowed down, Kobe Gantz picked up the slack in perfect rhythm, knocking down a buzzer-beating trey to close the first quarter at 19-10 Red Tornadoes.
Gantz, who collected 14 points, then supplied McCaskey's final three field goals of the half, his last a crowd-rousing, put-back dunk in transition.
"When we speed teams up, it's like no one can stop us," Speller said. "But when we play down to these other teams, it's like sometimes they might end up running away with the game, like Hempfield. But when we keep these teams running, it's like they have no chance."
While Lebanon, down 14 at intermission, had its hands full defensively, a separate problem dogged the visitors at the other end, where they finished without a single made 3-pointer.
"I didn't think our patience was good," Speraw said. "When we had fast breaks, we took them. But when we didn't, we just took quick shots. If we don't have fast breaks, we want to be more deliberate. And we got into a track meet with them."
And there was no better example of the ongoing chase than the third quarter, which contained Speller's 1,000th point. Less than seven seconds after an inside score from Lebanon's Shaq Ortiz (nine points), the diminutive guard sped back and sank a floater to reach his historic mark. An 8-2 McCaskey run then closed the period, and third-string Red Tornados soon began populating the floor.
According to Speraw, there's a simple fix for what most ailed his Cedars during their first blowout loss of the season. And, he believes, it should arrive in time for their rivalry clash with Cedar Crest on Friday night.
"We need to come with a better energy. This was the worst that, I think, we came out of the locker room with energy all year," he said. "I didn't think we had it, and I will take part of the blame on that. I've got to do a better job getting them up. But Friday I think we'll be ready."
McCaskey 82, Lebanon 71
Danny Caricabeur 3 2-3 8, Justin Baker 1 0-0 2, Allan Escoto 9 6-9 24, Dante Vargas 2 0-0 4, Matty Lopez 3 2-2 8, Shaq Ortiz 4 1-1 9, Luis Aquino Rios 2 0-0 4, Felix Kortright 5 2-3 12. Totals — 29 13-18 71.
Kobe Gantz 6 1-3 14, Ricky Cruz 4 4-4 13, Jathan Gonzalez 5 1-3 14, Izaiah Baratta 4 2-2 10, Greg Nunez 2 0-0 4, Randolph Speller 6 3-3 18, Skyler Davis 1 2-5 4, William Jospeh 2 1-2 5. Totals — 30 15-24 82.
Lebanon_ 10 _ 18_ 14_ 29 _ — _ 71
McCaskey_ 19_ 23 _ 21 _ 19 _ — _ 82
3-point goals — McCaskey 8 (Speller 3, Gonzalez 3, Gantz, Cruz), Lebanon 0.