Tigers cruise to season-opening win

Nov. 24—LEBANON — For the past several seasons, the Lebanon boys basketball team has put on emphasis on their defense, and winning games by grinding out results.

If Wednesday night's season opener was any indication, the Tigers showed they may win a few games with their offense this season as well.

Lebanon topped Hamilton Heights 71-42 to start the year, surpassing 70 points for the first time since late in the 2017-18 season.

"I like the fact that we showed we can get to 70 points and that's a good thing," Lebanon head coach Albert Hendrix said. "We showed that we can win a game that's played in the 60s-70s, and there are going to be games where we have to win have to win in that 48-52 point range. Our defense is going to have to win us some games, but our offense can too."

The Tigers jumped on the Huskies early, racing to a 15-5 lead midway through the first quarter and leading 21-12 at the quarter.

Jake Burns scored 12 of his 16 points in the first quarter, hitting three 3-pointers to help kick start the team.

"That was a big boost for us," Hendrix said. "Jake and I had a discussion about some things last week and had a really good 1-on-1 discussion. Since then he has really stepped it up."

After the first, it looked like it might be a more grind it out affair.

Lebanon held a 34-23 lead at the half, but the Huskies closed to within six midway through the third quarter.

But the Tigers started attacking the basket more, and pushed the lead back to 12 heading to the fourth, then dominated the final quarter.

"Late in the third quarter we answered their run," Hendrix said. "In the fourth, we really put the pedal to the floor, pushed the tempo and Kaden Lark got some easy baskets. Korbyn Sloggett really stepped up his game in the third and fourth quarters too. That was good to see."

Korbyn Sloggett had 18 points to lead the Tigers on Wednesday.

Along with Burn's 16, Lark had 11, Jack Ferrell had seven and Kayden Sloggett had six.

Ten different Tigers scored in the opener. Hendrix said it wasn't perfect, but for an opener he was pleased with the effort he saw.

"I thought both teams played really hard," Hendrix said. "They didn't have a lot of size, and that forced us to play smaller as well. We were able to knock down a few more shots. Both teams played hard defensively, even though we scored a good amount. I was proud of the guys for an opener. We still have a lot of work to do on the defensive side, but we will get that fixed."

Lebanon travels up to Kankakee Valley on Saturday afternoon.

The Kougars are a new opponent on the Tigers schedule and present a different challenge.

"We have a lot of work to do," Hendrix said. "They have a couple of 6-6, 6-7 kids and are strong inside. We are really have to defend well on the inside. They have a good left-handed shooter and their point guard is solid. They are big, strong kids and we have to take care of the ball and be solid defensively."

Will Willems is the Sports Editor of the Lebanon Reporter. Follow him on Twitter @Will_Willems.