Lebanon High School boys basketball coach Albert Hendrix wants his team ready to overcome anything once the postseason begins and Friday night’s 60-52 victory over Hamilton Heights was good preparation for the Class 3A No. 10 Tigers .
After trailing by as many as 20 points, Hamilton Heights went on a 9-1 run in the fourth quarter, getting within 53-50 on an Alex Etherington free throw with 3:07 left to play.
“We’re talking about getting ready for the sectional,” Hendrix said. “I probably could have called a timeout and tried to stop the run that they were on but we’re coming down the stretch and it was an opportunity to see how my kids would respond.”
The Tigers answered with a 7-0 run to pull away. Lebanon’s Nick Starkey scored and Caleb Brannon followed with a jumper and a free throw to give Lebanon a 60-50 lead with 1:14 left.
“I wanted to get the ball in my hands so I could make plays for everybody,” said Brannon, who scored 12 points. “I wanted to get to the basket or dish it off to Cord (Barricklow) since he was having such a good game (scoring 17 points).”
The Tigers, who snapped a three-game skid, jumped to a 15-0 lead to start the game. Brannon hit two 3-pointers, Tre’ Comage added another as Lebanon held the Huskies to just two points in the first quarter.
Barricklow scored a basket in the first quarter run and created a spark in the second.
“We were ready to come out and get a win,” Barricklow said. “Hamilton Heights is a 3A opponent, somebody that we knew we could get.”
He scored to start a 6-0 spurt in the second quarter and later scored a layup to give the Tigers a 22-5 lead.
They eventually extended the lead to 20 points when Barricklow made a free throw after being fouled on a dunk to give the Tigers a 33-13 advantage with 2:26 left in the first half.
But Hendrix said it was Lebanon’s defense that allowed the Tigers to take such a lead — something that has been part of the team’s identity all season.
“They play with a lot of heart on the defensive end and they just never give up,” Hendrix said.
The Huskies shot just 28 percent in the first half (7-of-25) and Etherington, who finished with 12 points, had only four by halftime. Etherington, who was once committed to Kansas State, said there is a good chance he will attend a prep school next year, mentioning Brewster and IMG.
“I thought we had some good looks,” Huskies coach Chad Ballenger said. “But we just dug ourselves too big of a hole early. They punched us in the mouth good to start with.”