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Lebanon boys ready for challenge of Section 1

For coach Tim Speraw, expectations do not change when it comes to Lebanon boys basketball.

Although, why should they when they have produced results like L-L Section 2 championships in 2014 and 2016 most recently, an eighth-place finish in District 3 last season, and a trip to the state championship tournament?

“It’s Lebanon, and we’re not only expected to win, we’re expected to put up banners, and we accept that responsibility,” Speraw said. “This is year seven and those expectations haven’t changed from the moment I got here and when I played and when I coached under other coaches, and I don’t think they’re going to change.”

But they are not just satisfied with getting there. Although he lost a few players to graduation, Speraw has a lot of key contributors back from a squad that battled through key injuries to make the deep playoff run, and he fully expects that ability to adjust to pay dividends again this season.

“We’re a good eight to nine deep and our starting lineup can change week in, week out,” Speraw said. “We’re just counting on everybody playing as a team and becoming one, and once we get there we could have some potential.”

And they will need to gel as a unit pretty quickly in their new home in Section 1 of the Lancaster-Lebanon League. With the new alignment, Lebanon will have teams on their schedule twice this season that previously they saw only once.

“Obviously being in Section 1 you get to play with all of the big boys, and we’re more than up for the challenge,” Speraw said. “I like the competition, and I think the kids will thrive on the competition, so we look forward to it.”

The Cedars will rely on their experience to get them through the tough section competition because they do not have a great deal of size. But what they lack in size, they make up for with athleticism and are pretty balanced in terms of the returners and new players who are expected to contribute.

Speraw said, “We have five guys back that got a lot of experience last year, and where we may lack size, our guards are pretty quick and strong. I think balance is probably our biggest strength.”

With his tallest player, Khalique Washington, listed at 6-foot-5, the Cedars are going to have to battle a little more in the paint, but that epitomizes Lebanon basketball, according to Speraw, who said, “We’re going to scrap; it’s just what we do.”

Other top returners include Shaq Ortiz, Felix Kortwright, Camryn Shaak and Dante Vargas.

Outside the arc, Speraw has many combinations that can fit into the puzzle. He expects that the team will run at times offensively, but he’s also looking for the guards to be patient at times, and be unselfish in order to have success.

But really, success has become synonymous with Lebanon Cedar basketball. They’re just looking to push it to little higher level. After all, Speraw and his bunch want to hang some more banners.

Lebanon boys

Coach: Tim Speraw, 7th season

Last year: 16-12 (12-4)

Returning players: Felix Kortright (jr., G, 6-2), Shaquell Ortiz (sr., F, 6-1), Camryn Shaak (sr., G, 5-10), Dante Vargas (sr., G, 5-9), Khalique Washington (sr., F, 6-5)

Other top players: Luis Aquino-Rios (jr., G, 6-0), Phil Hillesheim (sr., G, 5-9), Sabdriel Pereyra (sr., G, 6-0), Sebastian Sierra (sr., F, 6-0)

Season opener: Dec. 9, at home against Red Lion, 7:30. Cedar Crest and Elco will play at 6.