LEBANON — Points were at a premium in the boys game between Lebanon and Western Boone Friday night at Rosenstihl Gymnasium.
The Tigers held the Stars to 14 points through three quarters, and held off the Stars 38-31.
“We knew this was their first game and they were trying to get accumulated to playing someone other than themselves coming off that football state championship,” Lebanon head coach Albert Hendrix said. “It is going to take them a little bit to get themselves organize. But this was a good win for us. It was a big conference win and we are going to try to continue to get better after tonight.”
Western Boone head coach Bronson Lickliter downplayed the rust factor for his team.
He said the biggest thing for the Stars, was their defense in the first half, especially on the glass.
“We gave up some things on the pick-and-roll and our help-side defense just wasn’t where it needed to be,” Lickliter said. “You can talk about rust a little bit, but when you give up as many second-chance opportunities as we did, you are giving up extra possessions to them. We weren’t getting the stops we needed, because we weren’t finishing it off with the rebound.”
Lebanon led 8-5 after a quarter and held a 14-11 lead with less than 2:30 remaining in the first half.
But the Tigers scored the final seven points of the first half, and led 21-11 at the break.
“We did a nice job of defending them and making them take tough shots,” Hendrix said. “We did a good job of boxing out and not giving up offensive rebounds. Those are things we have been working on, and it is a step in the right direction.”
Neither team could get anything going offensively in the third quarter.
Lebanon won the quarter 4-3 to take a 25-14 advantage into the fourth, and pushed the lead to 13 early in the final quarter.
Western Boone was held to three points spanning a more than 12-minute stretch from the end of the second quarter to the beginning of the fourth. The Stars shot 30 percent for the game and 3-of-21 (14.3 percent) from behind the arc.
“They did a nice job of face-guarding Lucas Morton and we were running our stuff pretty well, but they were all from the outside,” Lickliter said. “We just aren’t quite there yet with our outside looks. We have to continue to work on that, and take about what is a great shot, more than a good shot.”
Lebanon appeared well on its way to winning the game, leading 29-20 with 2:21 to go. But back-to-back baskets by Spencer Wright and Peyton Young cut it to five with 1:58 to go.
Lebanon then missed an inside look, but Western Boone couldn’t secure the defensive rebound and Lebanon was able make it a 6-point game on a Jaden Jarrett free throw.
Western Boone got as close as four with 18 seconds to play, but Lebanon sealed the win.
“We weren’t as patient at the end as we were early, and they made a little run,” Hendrix said. “We knew they were going to pressure us, and we just had to take care of the ball and make free throws. We wanted to continue to play at a high pace, and we didn’t need to do that late.”
Jarrett led the Tigers with 13 points, with Reese Jones scoring five.
Hendrix said he was happy from the production of this three freshmen — Jones, Hunter Crew and Kobe Ottinger.
“It is good to get them some time on the floor and hopefully that helps us as we get later in the year,” Hendrix said. “The experience right now is going to be nothing but a positive for them.”
Peyton Young led the Stars with 10, and Wright added eight. Morton had six in the loss.
The Stars are back in action Tuesday night at Zionsville.
“It is all about finding our rhythm right now,” Lickliter said. “Lebanon had 22 practices, four games and a scrimmage coming into tonight, and experience can mean a lot, even if it is just game experience. We knew today was a going to be a great atmosphere and we wanted them to be hyped up, but not excitable. I think we were a little excitable in the first half, and that cost us.”
Lebanon is back in action Friday against Danville.
“They are big and strong, just like Western Boone,” Hendrix said. “We have to do a better job of taking care of the basketball, because they are going to try and trap us. We have to do a good job again of keeping them off the offensive glass.”