By Will Willems
The Lebanon boys basketball team gave it everything they had Friday night when they traveled to Danville for a Sagamore Conference showdown.
But in the end, the Warriors made just a few more plays in a 54-45 double overtime victory against the Tigers.
“I can’t be more proud of the kids with their effort tonight,” Lebanon head coach Albert Hendrix said. “We hung in there and battled. Danville is a good, athletic team and they are very well coached. But I just can’t say enough about our kids tonight.”
Lebanon trailed 29-26 after three quarters.
After Danville went up five with 5:00 to go, Lebanon got baskets from Clayton Barber and Sam Godby to cut the lead to one with 2:18 left.
Lebanon had multiple chances to take the lead, but couldn’t get the shots to fall. Danville’s Jake Elliot hit two free throws with 10.1 seconds left to give Danville the 35-32 lead.
The Tigers, who were 1-of-15 from three-point range at the time, got the long ball they needed when Godby drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key with one second left.
Lebanon continued its new hot-streak from deep in the first overtime, as Trevor Lakes hit back-to-back 3s to give Lebanon a 41-37 lead with 2:55 remaining.
The Tigers eventually pushed the lead to five with 1:31 to go after four-straight points from Nick Starkey, but after a 3-pointer by Danville’s Austin Anderson, a charge on Lebanon and two free throws by Danville’s Ryan Cloncs, the game was tied with 9.0 seconds left.
Lebanon got two highly contested looks inside but couldn’t get the game winner to fall.
In the second overtime, foul trouble and tough shooting luck hurt the Tigers. Lakes and Barber both fouled out and Lebanon couldn’t score as the Warriors hit 9-of-10 free throws.
“Our kids are playing hard and are starting to understand what we want them to do,” Hendrix said. “They are starting to execute some of that stuff. Even though the shots aren’t going in, we are executing the things we want to do. Tonight, the difference was the first half. We were 1-of-9 from the three-point line and had seven turnovers, which is too many against a good team.”
Lebanon trailed 11-8 after one and 22-15 at the half.
The Tigers finished the game 17-of-53 (32.1 percent) from the field and 4-of-21 (19 percent) from 3.
“It was just a tough night shooting,” Hendrix said. “I can’t complain about our shot selection, we took good shots, they just didn’t go in. Good shooters have bad nights. But we settled down in the second half, got the ball inside and got some shots inside the three-point line and were able to climb back into the game. The ball just didn’t bounce our way at the end of the game. But again, our kids played really hard.”
Lakes led the Tigers with 12 points and added six rebounds.
Starkey had 11 points and nine rebounds, while Isaac Harker had 10 points and nine rebounds.
“Isaac has done a great job,” Hendrix said. “Both him and Nick have shown great leadership. Isaac plays hard every day, his skills are improving and his understanding of the game is coming back. I am just very happy, not only with where Isaac is, but with Nick and our team.”
The Tigers are off until January 3 when they travel to Brebeuf.
The Braves are unbeaten and ranked fourth in Class 3A.
“They are going to be a tough team,” Hendrix said. “They have just about every one back from last year’s team and we know how good they were last year. But the luxury we have now is nobody is looking at us as being a top contender this year. And our kids are tough kids; they are resilient, they are going to fight and we are going to Brebeuf expecting to win.”