LEBANON, Va. – The Pioneers nearly met disaster.
Lebanon held off a terrific comeback attempt by Northwood for a 69-65 non-district boys basketball win in the season-opener for both clubs on Tuesday night.
The Pioneers held a 20-point lead, 55-35 going to the final frame. It was barely enough.
“I feel like we lost,” said Lebanon first-year head coach Ryan Potts. “That was completely my fault, we executed very poorly at the end. We weren’t prepared to have that kind of big lead. When (Preston) Steele went out with five fouls, that really hurt us.”
After scoring 35 points the first 24 minutes of the game, the Panthers exploded for 30 points in the fourth quarter. Luke Carter had 13 of his 28 points and Eli Carter had 10 of his 19 points in the fourth.
“We come back late with the full-court press,” Northwood coach Randy Vaughn said. “That’s the way we want to play. We showed a lot of heart, we never quit. We’re running a different type of offense this year. We have five kids that can score. We’re trying to give them all the opportunity to touch the ball.”
The double-digit Lebanon lead evaporated with just over two minutes to play. Christian Hall was the hero for the Pioneers. He had a couple of huge foul shots with just over a minute to play.
After a long 3-pointer by Kole Rolen cut the Lebanon lead to 67-63, with 35 seconds to play, the Pioneers had a turnover. Northwood had the ball, trailing by four, but Hall had a clutch steal and raced the length of the floor making a layup, to stop the Panther momentum.
“Hall has really worked hard and he’s a good athlete,” Potts said. “He’s been with us a few years and has waited his turn, now he’s getting the opportunity and he really came through for us at the end.”
Lebanon had built their advantage in the second quarter. The game was tied three times and there were six lead-changes. After a trey by Eli Carter, the Panthers led 22-20 with 4:43 remaining in the first half. Northwood didn’t score again, missing their last eight shots and committing six turnovers as Lebanon went on a 17-0 run to gain a 37-22 advantage at intermission.
“We started out playing good and I felt comfortable,” stated Vaughn. “We were in man defense, Lebanon started making some cuts and we weren’t switching and let them get a run on us.”
Sage Potts led the Pioneers with a game-high 30 points. Steele added 18 points in the win.
“In the fourth quarter we started playing Northwood’s game,” Coach Potts said. “We started playing up and down and quit running stuff. We fell apart a little bit.”
Lebanon 58, Northwood 15
The Lebanon girls won their contest in a big way. The Pioneers forced over 30 turnovers as they rolled to a victory over Northwood.
It was a huge night for a couple of Lebanon players. Kara Long surpassed 1,000 points for her career in the first quarter. Teammate Averie Price wasn’t far behind, joining the 1,000 point club early in the fourth quarter.
“I’ve been in this program for around 30 years and I can only remember about five 1,000 point scorers,” Lebanon coach Rex Parker said. “To have two on one team is quite an accomplishment. Kara and Averie are outstanding in any sport they play. It’s a privilege to coach them. They are respectful, work hard and been a big part of what we’ve done the last few years.”
Long (18 points) and Price (17 points) paced the Pioneers. Caroline Hayden led Northwood with seven points.