Emotions often run high on senior night. They certainly did in the Lebanon Warriors (13-10, 6-7) last home game against the Dallas Dragons (12-10, 8-5). The Warriors built a double-digit lead and held on down the stretch to walk away with a 51-48 victory on Feb 24.
“For us, it’s a big win because we have been talking about finishing the year strong. Outside the Central game, I feel we have really stepped it up and gotten better and are playing at a high level, I feel good about it,” head coach Joe Williamson said.
The Warriors eschewed their typical starting lineup and put all three of their seniors; Ian Smith, Chad Nissen and Tyler Romeo in with Ty Hargis. The seniors came out firing, scoring 13 of Lebanon’s first 15 points en route to a 20-15 lead after one quarter.
Coming off the bench, Isaac Garber scored seven straight for the Warriors, including the last basket of the first, and the first basket of the second quarter. The quick barrage from Garber took a three point game and promptly put the Warriors up by double digits in the first half.
Once again, the Warriors found themselves in foul trouble as the referees called a tight game. The Dragons worked into the bonus at the 2:15 point of the first quarter and Lebanon was not far behind them, going to the foul line with 1:23 to go in the first.
With a game that goes down to the wire, fundamentals take an important role, and free throws decided this one. Dallas shot 43 percent from the free-throw line, missing 16, while Lebanon was solid from the stripe shooting 75 percent, including seven of eight in the fourth quarter.
“In a tight game, free throws and rebounds will win it. I thought we rebounded well and we hit our free throws,” Williamson said.
Things got heated in the third quarter when Dallas coach Trent Schwartz argued a call with a referee, earning a technical foul. Ty Hargis converted at the line as part of his team-high 14 points. Despite this, the Dragons started to chip away at the Warrior lead.
Lebanon seemed to put the game away in the closing seconds, but Isaak Tichenor connected from long range to cut the lead to one with five seconds remaining. The Warriors got the ball inbounded following a timeout and Isaac Garber came through with clutch free throws.
The Dragons had one last look at the basket but their final attempt went of the iron allowing the Warriors to clinch their 51-48 win. The Warriors close the season on the road against the Crescent Valley Raiders on Friday Feb. 27.