BY JEFF FALK
LEBANON – A setback, not a step back.
A bump in the road, not a crushing blow.
A learning experience, not a proliferation of bad habits.
It was a familiar result, with a much different feel.
On Tuesday night at Lebanon High School, the Cedars’ girls’ basketball team had its early season success – but not its confidence – tempered by a 67-53 home loss to Governor Mifflin. The Mustangs pulled away late in the third quarter, but Lebanon never gave up and never gave in.
Following years of hardwood struggles, Lebanon entered the contest riding high, thanks to a championship at this weekend’s Fleetwood Tip-Off Tournament, an event where the Cedars matched their win total from a year ago. Last night’s outcome left both the improving Cedars and Governor Mifflin 2-1 on the year.
“I think it created confidence for our kids,” said Lebanon head coach Jaime Walborn, of the success her side enjoyed at Fleetwood. “We haven’t won a tip-off tournament since I’ve been here. I think it made a statement like, ‘this is a different year’. We know we have some weapons. What’s great about this group is that they work really well together. We’ve been passing the ball nicely. We were confident, but not over confident.
“Last year was tough, just because of COVID-19,” continued Walborn. “We had low numbers. It feels really good to have a somewhat normal year. There’s a lot of energy in the gym. The older kids are doing a good job of taking the younger kids under their wings.”
Courtesy of three-pointers from senior Olivia Uffner and a driving lay-in by freshman Kailah Correa, the Cedars enjoyed modest early leads of 5-1 and 10-8. But that was before the Mustangs tallied the final four points of the opening quarter and the initial three points of the second to extend their lead to 22-14.
“It was a good non-league game for us, a good test to figure out where we’re at and what we need to work on,” said Walborn. “It will help us find the things we need to fix. They (her girls) shouldn’t be disappointed. They played hard and that’s (Governor Mifflin) a good team. We played hard to the end.
“There’s always something to learn from every game,” added Walborn. “We were on a two-game win streak and we told the girls, ‘let’s make it a three-game win streak’. It’s a minor setback. In this game they (Mustangs) out rebounded us, and they’re a good three-point shooting team.”
Down six points late in the second quarter, Lebanon notched the final two buckets of the first half on a Correa jumper and a Liyna Saadini lay-in, then used Correa’s pull-up to knot the score at 29 seconds into the third period.
“It felt much closer to me,” said Walborn of the final score. “They (the Mustangs) went on that run at the end. We had that little lull in the third quarter, but I liked the way we responded. We didn’t back down. We stuck to our game plan.
“I think the rebounding hurt us a little bit,” Walborn continued. “We were giving them two or three shots. It’s something we’ve got to look at. I think we also have to do a better job of moving on offense. I thought there were times when we stood around and watched.”
Governor Mifflin out scored Lebanon 20-10 over the final seven minutes of the third quarter to establish a 49-39 advantage. Then the Mustangs pieced together a late 10-3 spurt to remove any doubts about the outcome.
“We’ve set short goals,” said Walborn. “We wanted to win the tip-off tournament this weekend. Today was another goal. Now we go back, re-evaluate and set another goal.”
On six field goals and four-for-four free throwing, Correa poured in a team-high 16 points. But seven other Cedars found their way into the scorebook.
Governor Mifflin outscored Lebanon 44-30 on two-point field goals.
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2021-22 Lebanon Girls’ Basketball Schedule
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