Lebanon survives upset bid from Ephrata
When a team has had as much success as the Lebanon boys basketball team has this season, one can only imagine the expectations to continue to climb the ladder as the season unfolds.
Having this theory in the back of their minds, the Cedars would be only human if they admitted to thinking about that, even though they know they can’t worry about the outside noise that comes with the postseason.
And what comes about from that mindset are sloppy starts offensively, which still haven’t phased Lebanon all season - even a three-field goal first half.
Despite yet another slow start, the Cedars are one step closer to a league championship after a 52-50 win over Ephrata Monday at Lebanon High School in the Lancaster-Lebanon League quarterfinals.
Lebanon will face Lancaster Mennonite Wednesday at Cedar Crest at 7 p.m. in the L-L semifinals, after the Blazers defeated Manheim Township 77-70 Monday in the quarterfinals.
While Cedars guard Camryn Shaak does admit he and his teammates probably tried to do too much offensively early on, knowing what future could lay before them, he says everyone still needs to do a better job coming out ready to play, no matter the circumstance.
“I think so. We came out real flat,” Shaak said. “That’s our problem sometimes. We think we can just step on the court and win, and it hit us hard right at the end of the first half. We knew we had to step up. It wasn’t just going to be another game. (Coach Tim) Speraw came in and ripped on us, and that woke us up.”
“We didn’t play well by any stretch of the imagination,” Speraw said. “We did what we needed to, but we definitely have to get better. It’s going to be a battle no matter who we have. You have to come to play.”
In seeing these types of mistakes over and over again offensively, Speraw says it just comes down to decision making.
“We just need to make sure we have good smart possessions from the start,” Speraw said. “I think we have too many quick possessions, which we’ll work on.”
But finding a way to change their luck offensively is what teams like Lebanon need to do to fulfill those high expectations, knowing there’s someone who can step up in a point of the game where it matters most.
That point came deep in the third quarter as the Cedars’ field-goal drought continued, and it was Shaak who lit the fire.
Shaak scored eight of his team-high 20 points in a Cedars’ 10-0 run which sparked the comeback, as Lebanon had climbed back within 31-29 with 2:10 left in the third, after trailing by as many as 11.
“We’re just playing,” Shaak said. “We’ve been through times like this before. We know we can score as a basketball team. It’s just someone needed to step up, and I happened to do that. But it wasn’t just me, everyone stepped up. It was the defense that helped me get going on offense.”
Having a team with a lot of grit in them certainly doesn’t hurt the situation either.
“I know I have tough kids that are going to fight back,” Speraw said. “It’s just a matter of how bad you want it. It didn’t look like we wanted it in the first half. We came out in the second half and after a basket here and there, you build confidence and everyone starts believing, and we made runs that made the difference in the game.”
Now the Cedars turn their attention to the Blazers on Wednesday, when they will look for some possible revenge.
Speraw said, “They ran through their section undefeated, so I know they have a lot of guys back from last year and they knocked us out last year. But we’ll be ready to play Wednesday.”