Lebanon's first matchup of the season against South Albany in boys basketball was almost over as soon as it began.
The Redhawks jumped out to a quick 9-0 lead and put the Warriors on their heels. But to its credit, the Lebanon squad did not fold.
Lebanon rallied and tied the game at 16 in a 3-pointer by senior guard Daylon Shoyo.
The Redhawks eventually pulled away for a 68-53 victory, and Warriors coach Casey Vandenbos knows his team needs to get out of the blocks more quickly.
"We've got to stop this 9-0 hole, 11-2, 18-6 first quarters. If we can just play even, I like our choices. But when you get down 9-0, you can't turn the ball over, you've got to make your free throws, got to make your layins, got to make your open 3s," Vandenbos said.
After the Warriors rallied to tie the game in the second quarter, South Albany responded with three consecutive 3-pointers to regain control of the game. Two of those 3s were made by senior Jaden Lyons-Lopez.
Sophomore guard Cole Weber did his best to keep the Warriors in the game, tallying a game-high 25 pointsm including five 3-pointers. He scored 13 points in the fourth quarter.
The Warriors (3-8, 0-5) trailed 45-30 after three quarters before the high-scoring final frame.
"Defensively I thought we buckled down in the half court. In the third quarter, we were getting steals, rotating really well," Vandenbos said.
Junior Zachary Birchem added nine points for Lebanon. He said the team is still finding its way.
"It's a little rough sometimes. We don't have the chemistry," Birchem said.
Before the game opened up in the fourth quarter, the Redhawks (11-1, 4-1 MWC) played a very conservative defense, packing the paint and forcing the Warriors to rely on their outside shooting.
"We've got to make shots. they're going to pack it and make us shoot. Some of those 3s at the end of the game, it's too little, too late," Vandenbos said.
But he is not discouraged with where his squad is at as the midpoint of the conference schedule nears.
"The system is good, the philosophy is good, what we're building is good. We just to get our skills to where we're at," Vandenbos said.
Lebanon is scheduled to host West Albany on Tuesday, Jan. 15 and then play at Crescent Valley on Friday, Jan. 18.