An early preseason winning streak didn’t cure the Lebanon High School boys basketball team’s struggles on the road.

Coming off of an undefeated three-game homestand, sluggish opening-quarter efforts away from the Bud Page Activities Center sent the Warriors’ record back to 0.500.

Seniors Jacob McConnell, Kendall Leopard and junior CJ Hargis each scored in double figures, but it wasn’t enough to offset a 19-4 first-quarter deficit at Willamette (4-3) on Dec. 21.

Despite a 13-46 effort from the field, Lebanon drew within 9 points by the start of the final period before falling 58-44.

The Warriors couldn’t recapture their winning ways at the West Salem Holiday Hoops Fest, falling in all three contests at the annual exhibition to cap the preseason.

“As a team, we lose our heads while in pressure moments and start turning the ball over to the other team,” said LHS third-year coach Kevin Johnson. “You’re not going to have much success with 29 turnovers.”

The host 6A Titans (9-1) scored 47 first-half points in the Dec. 27 tournament-opener to cruise to a 74-56 victory before Western Mennonite (8-4), then the second-ranked team in the 2A classification, grabbed a 30-point advantage in the opening two quarters on Dec. 28.

The Pioneers were led by a 30-point effort from senior standout Bradley Branch, while the forward added nine blocks in a 68-51 win over the Warriors.

“We continue to struggle when it comes to playing on the road,” Johnson said. “We have played some pretty decent teams on the road and have had little success against them.”

Even when they gained the early advantage, the Warriors failed to hold it on the road.

Just 10 days after the host Warriors beat 4A Sweet Home 77-73, the Dec. 29 Hoops Fest finale saw the Huskies even the preseason series at the neutral site in Salem by dominating the fourth quarter.

LHS freshman Isaac Johnson led the way with 15 points as the Warriors grabbed a 26-20 halftime lead, but it wouldn’t last far into the final period.

Bryce Daniels’ game-high 18 points sparked a 24-9 fourth-quarter run for the Huskies en route to a 56-45 preseason-capping victory.

Sweet Home (2-8) went 19-25 from the free-throw line, while Lebanon was 8-10.

McConnell and Warriors teammate Tim Maddox combined for 20 points in the loss.

“I contribute some of the problems we are having to inexperience, youth and flat out fear,” Johnson added. “I try to remind myself that they are young and will continue to get better as the season progresses.”

Lebanon opens 5A Mid-Willamette Conference play at home tonight against fellow 3-6 Dallas before traveling to West Albany (6-4) on Jan. 11.

Dec. 21

Willamette 58, Lebanon 44

Lebanon    4    15    15    10    —    44

Willamette    19    12    12    15    —    58

Lebanon: McConnell 12, Hargis 10, Leopard 10, Johnson 6, Alley 2, Smith 2, Romeo 2, Denny, Shanks, Maddox, Young, Garber. Totals: 13-46 15-25 44.

Willamette: Wyatt 17, Johnson 8, Kuvaas 8, Muncon 7, Brands 6, Ferguson 6, Jackson 4, York 2, Nelson, White, Munson, Williams, Goldbegger. Totals: 17-40 21-38 58.

West Salem Holiday Hoops Fest (Dec. 27-29)

Dec. 27

West Salem 74, Lebanon 56

Lebanon    16    14    12    14    —    56

West Salem    23    24    17    10    —    74

Dec. 28

Western Mennonite 68, Lebanon 51

Western Mennonite    19    25    17    7    —    68

Lebanon    5    9    21    16    —    51

Dec. 29

Sweet Home 56, Lebanon 45

Sweet Home    10    10    12    24    —    56

Lebanon    15    11    10    9    —    45

Sweet Home: Daniels 18, Jutte 15, Porter 12, Kauffman 5, Gaskey 4, Dixon 2, Adams, Hutchins, Sarger. Totals: 16 19-25 56.

Lebanon: Johnson 15, Maddox 9, Shanks 6, Hargis 6, Leopard 4, Romeo 2, Smith 2, McConnell 1, Denny, Nissen. Totals: 16 8-10 45.

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