The Lebanon Warriors girls basketball team couldn't handle the Central Panthers at home dropping the game 41-30 to begin league play on Jan. 9. The Warriors entered the game with a perfect 9-0 preseason record. 

Against Central, it was even a back-and-forth physical defensive battle as the teams matched baskets — until the fourth quarter when the Warriors came unglued.

In that quarter, four minutes ticked off the clock, while the Warriors couldn't get any shots to drop or the Panthers forced turnovers in Warrior territory.

"We just didn't take care of the basketball," head coach Mardy Benedict said. "We had opportunities to score but we just didn't capitalize on them."  

Central iced the game halfway through the fourth when Panther Annika Riddel sunk two shots from the charity stripe to put the Panthers up by 10. 

Entering the contest, Oregon State Athletic Association had Lebanon ranked fifth in state, and Central first (this does not reflect placement in league by records). Following the contest, Central now ranks second, while Lebanon moved up to fourth. 

Sophomore Ellie Croco led the Warriors in points with 13. She also managed six rebounds during the contest and two steals as well. 

Benedict said the hype and implication of the game may have gotten into the players heads.

"We just need to take care of the basketball, and slow ourselves down," Benedict said. "This was a big game."

Lebanon will get another crack at the Panthers later in the season when the Warriors travel to Independence on Feb. 2. 

"That's what we'll be talking about, we'll get another shot," Benedict said. "We just have to take it one day at a time." 

The Warriors faced South Albany on the road on Jan. 12 where they returned to their winning ways with a 52-48 victory for Lebanon's first league win of the season. 

Against South, the Warriors took an eight-point halftime lead against host South Albany and held on in the second. Ellie Croco lead the Warriors in points on the road with 19. 

The Warriors hosted Silverton on Jan. 16. The results of that game were not available by press time. 


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