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..."It doesn't get any easier for the Yellowjackets as they finish out their stretch of playing three state-ranked opponents at 6 p.m. Friday at No. 4 Glendale.
Payne said his team needs to give a good effort against Glendale, even if it means playing well again, but still losing.
"We have to go down there and play as well as we can -- go for the win," he said. "Glendale is not an unbeatable team. They are very good, but they have some losses and have played some people close. We are going to go down there and do everything we can to win the ballgame. The key to beating Glendale is getting to the free throw line. They hand check, they push and play real physical on defense. If you have a closely called game, you'll shoot a lot of free throws. That is how some of the teams in the past have beaten them"...
Basketball: Lebanon loses OT fight against powerhouse team
By Matthew J. Wilson
SPRINGFIELD -- For the third straight game, the Lebanon High School boys' basketball team was in it until the end against a state-ranked opponent.
But for the third straight game, the Yellowjackets came away without a win as they fell 69-61 in overtime Friday at Glendale -- ranked No. 4 in Class 4A.
"We had a good game plan, we took it to them and I think we really surprised them with how we played," Lebanon coach Jacky Payne said. "This team, tonight, gave a 125 percent effort. They played their hearts out against a very talented team. Glendale has a lot of weapons -- they've go size, they've got speed, they're quick and they can shoot it. And they just guard the heck out of you. We really stepped up tonight."
Lebanon was beaten 71-68 in overtime by Ash Grove, ranked No. 3 in 2A, in the championship game of the Bolivar Tournament on Feb. 1.
Then the Yellowjackets lost 71-67 to No. 6 Waynesville on Tuesday at Boswell Auditorium.
The loss to Glendale (19-4 overall, 6-1 in the Ozark Conference) gave Lebanon (16-8, 3-3) its first three-game losing streak of the season.
Payne praised the Yellowjackets after the game.
"I told them I was proud of them," Payne said. "We played a heck of a team tonight and a really good game. I said, "We're not on a downside -- we played three tough, state-ranked teams in a row.' We're on the upward trend right now, even though we came up short tonight. These games will help us come district time and finishing out the season. Hopefully, we'll use it as a positive and go with it from there.
"But it is disheartening and it's frustrating to play your hearts out and still come up short. I think we have a mature team of seniors that will bounce back."
Payne said there were some things his team needed to do to get over the hump in tight games.
"We've got to make our free throws and we've got to shore up our defense," Payne said. "Our defense has been better. But there are still times that we have moments when we're a step slow getting to the shooter. We still want to continue to rebound. There are times we rebound very well, but I think as a team we've got to rebound better."
Senior guard Jason Russell scored a game-high 28 points for the Yellowjackets, including 11 of Lebanon's last 15.
"I thought Jason stepped it up big-time," Payne said. "Jason has been a marked man all year and he really amazes me sometimes with some of the things he does. He still gets his shot off and stays in the flow of the game."
Senior center Seth Wolken was the only other Yellowjacket to break into double figures, scoring with 11 points.
The game marked the return to action for Glendale junior guard Brandon Kimbrough, who had been out almost a month with an injury.
Kimbrough led Glendale with 21 points.
"(Glendale) picks (tonight) of all the nights for Kimbrough to come back off the disabled list -- to come back and play and score 20 points," Payne said. "You take him out of their equation tonight and play like we did tonight, it is a different outcome. He is a go-to guy, there is no doubt. He is a very talented individual."
Payne said in order for Lebanon to win, it would need to get to the free throw line.
But the Yellowjackets were just 6-of-14 (43 percent) from the line in the second half in overtime.
"We kept going at Kimbrough ... and trying to get them fouled out of the game," Payne said. "I know Jason took it in there one of those times on Kimbrough and we probably had Kimbrough's fifth. (Jason) got hammered and it was a no-call. But that is the way it goes sometimes."
Glendale was 15-of-19 (79 percent) from the free-throw line in that same span, including 9-of-11 (82 percent) in overtime.
Lebanon was without two of its starters -- Wolken and senior point guard Jared Plassmeyer -- for most of the second half and all of the overtime period.
"That just took two major weapons out of our arsenal," Payne said.
Plassmeyer had his head slammed to the floor trying to draw a charge on a driving Kimbrough with 1:28 to go in the first half.
"He set up for a charge and Kimbrough plowed over him -- it was a big-time play," Payne said. "Both of them could have been severely hurt on that play. That is how Kimbrough got his wrist hurt to begin with."
Plassmeyer, who was knocked unconscious, lay motionless on the court for about 10 seconds before he was attended to.
After about four minutes, he was on his feet and went to the bench.
He did not return to the game.
"He took quite a blow and he is still fuzzy," Payne said of Plassmeyer. "He has a mild concussion. But he is a tough-nosed kid and played hard tonight. I really hated to see that happen. It was bad for us."
Wolken picked up his third and fourth fouls in the first three minutes of the third quarter before fouling out with 1:39 left in the fourth quarter.
Lebanon senior forward Josh Hart and senior guard Christopher Tegtmeyer filled in for their teammates.
"Josh and Chris really stepped in tonight and played well," Payne said. "I'm real proud of those two.
"Josh is a real competitor. He came in and played very good position and got some key rebounds for us. Josh played a tremendous game. He doesn't always play that many minutes in a game but he will do whatever is needed for the team to compete."
Russell drove the lane for a layup to tie it at 56 with 18.4 seconds left in regulation.
The Falcons turned it over to Russell with 2.8 seconds left without getting a shot. Lebanon called a timeout and Russell had a chance for the win with a half-court shot that didn't fall.
Kimbrough made a layup and drew Lebanon senior forward Phillip Garrison's fourth foul to open the overtime scoring.
Kimbrough missed the foul shot and Hart got Lebanon back within one on the next possession when he hit 1-of-2 foul shots.
Russell followed with two free throws at 2:46 to give Lebanon its first lead since 6:57 in the third quarter.
Glendale got a hoop from senior center Justin Williamson at 1:20 to take a lead the Falcons would never relinquish.
Russell bounced an off-balance jumper off the front of the rim 20 seconds later and Glendale got the rebound.
Senior guard Ryan Luethy was fouled and hit both shots to put Glendale up 62-59 with 51.5 seconds to play.
Lebanon then worked for a shot and senior forward Trent Copling got open for a trey with 33 second remaining, but he missed.
"We wanted to go for the three-point shot, because if we didn't make it we still wanted to have time to foul and get the ball back," Payne said. "You can do that various ways. Hold for the last shot and go for the three or you can try to get one up fairly quick if you get a good look. Trent has been making the three so there wasn't anything wrong with that shot except it didn't go in."
Lebanon then was forced to foul (Garrison fouled out with 30 seconds on the clock) the rest of the way and Glendale hit 7-of-8 free throws down the stretch to hold on for the win.
Russell had Lebanon's only points in the final 30 seconds with a floating jump shot in the lane.
The Yellowjackets endured the Falcons' emotional first quarter storm as the Glendale seniors were honored for senior night before the game.
Lebanon countered Glendale's relentless quarter-court defense and physicalness with its size inside with excellent ball movement.
The Yellowjackets were able to set up Wolken in the post for easy scores when the Falcons would overplay passes or lanes would open up for a driving Russell.
Payne said it was the best ball movement his team has had all season.
"We got great ball movement and we got the ball inside," Payne said. "We threw some good skip passes and we penetrated. That was all against a very good defensive team. We are a very good passing team and we have good basketball sense about us."
The Yellowjackets capitalized on its opportunities with its best shooting quarter of the night at 8-of-10 from the field.
Russell had a three pointer, and was a perfect 4-of-4 from the field and 2-of-2 from the free-throw line in the first quarter, while Wolken, 6-foot-6, 190-pounds, was 3-of-4 inside and 2-of-3 from the line.
Wolken survived the pounding inside he was receiving from Williamson, who is 6-5, 250.
There were nine lead changes in the first six minutes of the game.
Plassmeyer hit his only field goal of the game, a trey, at 1:46 to put Lebanon ahead 16-14 and the Yellowjackets never trailed the rest of the first half.
Lebanon finished the quarter with a 6-2 burst to hold a 22-16 lead entering the second period.
"I thought it was real important against a team like that to establish yourself," Payne said. "Quite frankly, I don't think we always get the respect down here in Springfield that sometimes we deserve. I think we surprised them. We weren't going to back down and let them dictate the tempo of how the game was going to be played."
Lebanon never could increase its lead to more than six -- leading by that margin for the last time with two minutes to play in the half after a Russell basket made it 32-26.
Glendale closed the quarter on a 6-0 run to knot it at 32 at halftime.
Copling had five points in the second quarter as he started to get good looks inside because of Lebanon's ball movement.
Garrison and junior point guard Jeremy DeMuth had baskets to put Lebanon ahead 36-32 to begin the third quarter.
Glendale countered with a 7-0 run and took the lead at 6:56 on a trey by Luethy.
Lebanon tied it at 46 on a free throw by Garrison at 1:18, but Williamson made a conventional three-point play with two seconds to go in the third.
Glendale increased its lead in the fourth quarter to 54-29 on a basket by Williamson with 4:37 left in regulation.
That score stood until 2:08 when Russell sank a three-pointer from the right corner on an assist by Garrison.
Wolken was called for his fifth foul at 1:39, that sent Glendale junior forward Grant Sparks to the line.
But Sparks missed the first shot of the one-and-one and Hart, who had taken Wolken's spot, got the rebound.
Russell couldn't get free for a shot and got some help from DeMuth, who hit a shot from inside the three-point line to tie it at 54 at 1:12.
"We needed other people to step up a little bit," Payne said. "DeMuth's jumper was really big because you can't just rely on one person (Russell) for all your shots -- no matter how good that person is."
With 27.4 left in regulation, DeMuth was called for a foul on the perimeter and Luethy made both free throws to put Glendale up 56-54.
Russell then drove the lane to send it to overtime.
Lebanon will play its last home game of the season Tuesday against West Plains. Seniors and their parents will be recognized before the varsity game.
Lebanon junior varsity improves to 15-5
The Lebanon junior-varsity boys' basketball team won 83-73 Friday at Glendale.
Freshman guard Colt Blair had a career-high 35 points for Lebanon.
Blair was 16-of-16 from the free-throw line and connected on five three-pointers and two two-pointers.
Blair poured in 12 points in both the second and fourth quarters.
Blair suffered a severely sprained ankle in the game.
"He couldn't even hardly walk," Payne said. "Colt is a tough kid, also. He doesn't limp around on stuff. He has to be hurt to be hurt."
Sophomore forwards Chris Meckem and Chris Oursbourn added 14 points each for the Yellowjackets.