By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin
LEBANON, Ind. —
Joe Nadaline had seen just enough of the Lebanon boys basketball team this season to develop a healthy concern for Tuesday night’s game.
But Anderson calmed their head coach’s nerves early, jumping out to a big lead against the Class 3A No. 10 Tigers and rolling to a 75-60 victory at Rosenstihl Gymnasium.
“I scouted them and watched them play several times,” Nadaline said. “I knew how good they were, and I never would have thought we would take over early and really dictate what happened in this game.”
Senior Chris Lemon hit his first five shots, scoring 12 points in the opening quarter, and the Tigers (13-5) quickly were on their heels.
Anderson led 17-10 after the first quarter, holding Lebanon to 3-for-13 shooting, and pushed its lead into double figures early in the second period. The Tigers failed to cut the deficit below 10 points again until the fourth quarter.
“Against a team like this, you can’t let the crowd get into it,” said Lemon, who finished with 24 points on 9-for-12 shooting. “If you let the crowd get into it, then the team gets into it and starts feeding off their energy.”
Lemon has been spending an hour or two on his own after practice in the past two weeks working on his jumper. The Tribe (15-4) lost two key North Central Conference games in a three-game stretch ending two weekends ago, and it caused the players to take a deep look at themselves.
Lemon’s perimeter offense opens up room for his teammates to operate in the paint, and he was determined to help get Anderson’s offense back on track. The extra work paid off.
Lemon has scored 41 points on 15-of-22 shooting in wins over Muncie Central last Saturday and at Lebanon. Included in those totals is a 7-for-10 performance from beyond the 3-point line.
“The shots are just going in,” Lemon said. “I know my teammates need me to step up and make some shots, and that’s what I’m going to do.”
Senior Tre Boyd helped himself with a strong perimeter showing of his own against the Tigers. The 6-foot-5 center made 3 of 5 attempts from 3-point range to pull Lebanon’s 6-foot-7 Cord Barricklow out of the post, then routinely drove past the opposing big man to finish with a team-high 25 points.
It was Boyd who put away the Tigers’ last best chance to get back into the game.
Lebanon twice cut its deficit to 10 points in the third quarter, but the Indians opened the final period with an 11-4 run to take their biggest lead of the game at 65-47.
The Tigers answered with a 9-0 run led by six points from Barricklow, who took control of the offensive glass and finished with 15 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
“It’s something we’re always working on because of our size,” Nadaline said of limiting second-chance points for the opposition. “We just didn’t block out tonight. But we got to a lot of loose balls, and that really helped make up for the rebounds.”
With Anderson holding a 65-56 lead and 2:03 remaining, Boyd made four consecutive free throws sandwiched around a pair of charity shots for Lebanon’s Caleb Brannon. That gave the Tribe some breathing room again.
Senior Jalin Beard then slammed the door shut with a basket in transition as the Tigers were called for goaltending with just more than a minute to play.
“This was a great win,” Lemon said. “We played well on their home court.”
The Indians especially shined on defense. Nadaline singled out senior Armon Daniels and juniors Kenya Wilkerson and Grant Bennett for their efforts on that end of the court, but he was impressed with the team’s total defensive performance.
The Tigers shot just 41.8 percent from the field (23-of-55) and committed 13 turnovers, negating their advantage on the boards (31-27).
Brannon scored Lebanon’s first 10 points and led three Tigers in double figures with 26 overall. Jake Marshall added 10 points but shot just 3-of-11 from the field.
Despite the balanced offensive attack, Lebanon never really threatened to win the game.
“We made some shots early,” Nadaline said, “and it was nice to see we never really let up.”