LEBANON — Lebanon, last year’s Lancaster-Lebanon League boys’ basketball champion, has established itself among the hunted again this year.
The Cedars managed to avoid another series of traps Tuesday, holding off McCaskey 59-46 in an L-L crossover game.
“It was kind of a grind,’’ Lebanon coach Tim Speraw said, “which is kind of what our games turn into a lot.’’
The Cedars are 8-2, 3-0 in the league. Their recent scalps include Elizabethtown, impressive of late, archrival Cedar Crest and, in a shootout Sunday at Lebanon Valley College, 10-2 Palmyra.
McCaskey (3-6, 2-3) had won two of three, including an upset of once-beaten Hempfield last week.
“They have quickness,’’ Speraw said of the Tornado. “Their guards are solid, strong, quick kids. I liked that we didn’t back down.’’
Lebanon led Tuesday from the opening minute, and appeared to be cruising as Marquis Ferriera nailed a 3-pointer early in the second quarter to push the lead to 23-11.
But Adrian Cruz, Ferreira’s backcourt mate and one of Lebanon’s key pieces, picked up a second foul around then and didn’t return until after halftime.
Lebanon led 32-18 at the break, and by as many as 18, at 47-29, on a Emanuel Mason three early in the fourth quarter.
By that point McCaskey, and especially those guards Speraw mentioned, Hasan Williams and Jonathan Byrd, were digging in defensively over 94 feet.
The Cedars committed 19 turnovers. They played an unusual amount of zone defense to slow things down and make the Tornado shoot over the top.
It got ragged, but McCaskey never got closer than 51-40, on a steal and run-out by Williams with 2:30 left.
The Cedars got 19 points and enormous energy from Ferreira. They continued to get good work from guys, like Mason and Cruz, who have made the big step up after playing JV last year.
Critically, they made 16 of 21 free throws.
But those 19 turnovers were a reminder of the absence of veteran point guard Luke Collins, who is missing his entire senior season with a knee injury.
“That’s where we miss Luke,’’ Speraw admitted. “That was his job for the last 10 years of these kids playing together.
“But, we’re not getting him back. We’ve got to figure it out. We’ll keep working on it, and I thought we took care of the ball when we had to tonight.’’
McCaskey, which got 13 points from Williams, hosts Conestoga Valley in another crossover Thursday.
Lebanon is off until it gets Cedar Crest again, this one a league crossover game, Saturday in South Lebanon.