Two losses by the Lebanon High boys basketball team illustrate how far the team has progressed in the past two seasons and also how much the young squad still has to learn.
The Warriors had a 17-point fourth-quarter lead against Dallas on Tuesday, Jan. 7, in a Mid-Willamette Conference game before falling 73-66 in double overtime.
On Friday, Lebanon trailed by 13 at halftime to visiting Putnam in a non-conference contest, but trimmed that deficit to two points late in the fourth quarter before falling short in a 42-37 loss.
“We’re learning. It’s such a huge learning curve mentally on how to win a basketball game,” said varsity head coach Casey VandenBos.
Against Putnam, the Warriors trailed 39-37 with Putnam’s Grant Ferguson at the free-throw line for the first end of a one-and-one. He missed, but the Warriors were unable to collect the rebound.
Lebanon got the defensive stop, but was unable to score, leading to another foul by the Warriors to stop the clock. Putnam once again missed the front end of a one-and-one and for the second time grabbed the offensive rebound.
That ultimately allowed the Kingsmen to put the game away.
“Twice, we didn’t get the rebound,” VandenBos said.
Despite the inability to execute in this instance, the coach is confident that the team is on the right track.
“We’re trending in the right direction. The boys know they can play with most teams. They know they can compete,” VandenBos said. “Once we get over the hump and get that first league win, I think it will be a ripple effect and we’ll get a couple more.”
Junior guard Cole Weber led the Warriors with 10 points against Putnam. Gideon Osborne added eight points and senior post Kyle Haley had seven.
Haley finished the game on the bench after suffering a knee injury on a rebound in the third quarter. The 6-foot-5 post feared the worst but is awaiting medical confirmation this week
VandenBos said a season-ending injury to Haley would be a terrible blow to the squad and a cruel end to Haley’s high school career.
“You feel bad for Kyle. Senior year and he’s starting to have some success,” VandenBos said. “And you can’t replace 6-5.”
This is the latest, and most severe, setback in a series for the Warriors. Osborne missed time after suffering appendicitis and Aaron Crowell is playing through an ankle injury.
On Tuesday, Jan. 14, the Warriors were scheduled to host Silverton (10-1, 3-0 MWC).
“It’s a phenomenal program. They’re going to be tough. They’re not going to take it easy on you,” VandenBos said of the Foxes.
Lebanon will then host South Albany (8-2, 1-1 MWC) on Thursday.
Putnam 42, Lebanon 37
Putnam 14 14 8 6 - 42
Lebanon 6 9 15 7 – 37
Putnam: Gonzalez 11, Ferguson 11, Ruffo 6, Sholty 4, Junta 4, Salviano 2, Greenleaf 2, Douangphrachanh 2.
Lebanon: Weber 10, Osborne 8, Haley 7, Pointer 4, Dargay 3, Birchem 3, Brandt 2, Crowell, Torgerson.