The little things will determine Lebanon's fate
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Looking back at the Lebanon boys basketball team’s entire postseason, it’s been a roller-coaster stretch run.
At this time of the year, it’s the little things that matters most, like decision making offensively and boxing out – something the Cedars have been inconsistent with recently.
In the midst of those struggles however, there still lies a quiet confidence they can play with the big boys.
Add a rematch in the state playoffs against an all-too-familiar opponent, and that makes them all the more ready.
After hanging with Reading High in the District 3 Class 6A third place game last Thursday, Lebanon faces District 1 third place winner Plymouth-Whitemarsh Saturday in the PIAA Class 6A first round, who handled the then short-handed Cedars in an 81-41 win in last year’s first round.
Of course after a loss like that, no one has forgotten that incredibly bitter feeling no team wants to end their season on.
“We obviously didn’t have a good showing last year,” said Lebanon coach Tim Speraw. “We didn’t have two starters. The guys know we didn’t compete that well. They want to come out and show we deserve to be there.”
With minimizing turnovers being a struggle recently for the Cedars, that essentially becomes vital in preparing for a rematch with a Colonials team that’s long, very athletic, and active defensively.
“You have to, just because they’re athletes and of how active they are,” Speraw said. “Taking care of the ball is one of the biggest keys on Saturday. We don’t, our chances go down tremendously.”
Being consistently active on the glass is something Lebanon has been working to improve on, knowing they face the challenge of containing P-W’s seven-footer Naheem Mcleod.
“It’s just a different aspect,” Speraw said. “We played a 6-foot-9 guy against CD East, but you normally don’t see that size and wingspan protecting the basket. It takes getting used to. We just need to find strategies to work around that and be successful.”
But having already defeated a lengthy team like CD East in the district quarterfinals, and just recently having hung in there with another lengthy and very active team like Reading High after a poor start, the Cedars know the task isn’t impossible.
“It gave us a little confidence in terms that we know we can play with Reading,” Speraw said. “We did for three and a half quarters. At the same time, our kids realize we have to do it from the start.”
Already having some familiarity with the Colonials also doesn’t hurt.
“It helps a little bit to know what they do ahead of time,” Speraw said. “It’s still tough to simulate the speed, and their 7-footer inside, unless you have one. We obviously don’t. We just try to do our best to put our kids in successful situations to get ready.”
After having a little over a week off, fresh legs could also give Lebanon a boost, after two straight deep runs in the league and district playoffs, but Speraw made sure the time off was still used wisely.
“They’re kids. I think they bounce back pretty well,” he said. “They’re used to playing games on consecutive nights or every other night. Besides rest, we still have things we need to take care of in the gym. It’s hard to stay how much time to give off and how much would be beneficial.”
In the midst of all these other factors that could determine when the Cedars’ season ends, it still comes down to those two aspects of the game Lebanon has struggled with recently.
Speraw said, “Defensively, we need to box out well. We’re probably one of the smallest teams in (Class) 6A. Offensively, it’s taking care of the ball and shooting well. If we do those things, we can have some success.”