For the first time since 1983, the Lebanon Yellowjackets boys’ basketball team won a road game at Kickapoo, after a dominating 70-57 on Tuesday night in Springfield.
It is also just the eighth time in program history that the Yellowjackets (17-9 overall, 7-2 Ozark Conference) have defeated the Chiefs altogether.
After the final buzzer sounded, though, it looked as if the entire team had expected this and knew they could hang with a team that was competitive in the Tournament of Champions and has been ranked in Missouri Class 5 this year.
Lebanon head coach Bill Brown concurred.
“It was cool that after they (Lebanon) beat them (Kickapoo), they acted as they should have,” said Brown. “It wasn’t a super celebration or anything like that; it was more of a hey we are good and can beat anyone.
“Had we just squeezed out that game at West Plains, we would have the first conference championship in school history.”
With Lebanon leading at halftime by a score of 33-26, the ‘Jackets outscored the Chiefs 19-10 in the third quarter behind eight points from senior Quenton Shelton and five points from junior Caleb Falzone to take a 52-36 lead with just eight minutes to play in the contest.
To Kickapoo’s credit, they didn’t go away easily in the fourth quarter. The Chiefs jumped out to 9-1 run to start the final period and cut the deficit to just eight points, but LHS did a fantastic job of controlling the clock while still looking for good looks and knocked down nine free throws in the fourth quarter to seal what was a complete team victory.
“I thought we executed as good as we possibly could have in regards to handling pressure, stretching out the defense, making threes, making free throws, and limiting turnovers,” Brown said. “We played great defense, and Kickapoo is a very explosive team. They got about ten points there, and we got a little tight, but we got them in foul trouble, and when we got to the free throw line, we started to relax and playing a little bit.”
In the first half of the game, senior Bryson Crowell knocked down three three-pointers and finished the game 4-4 from beyond the arc and finished with 14 points. Falzone chipped in 11 points along with senior Jordan Lewis, and junior Tyler Williamson had numerous hustle plays and played solid defense throughout the entire contest.
“We had some great passes against their press all game long,” said Brown. “Caleb Falzone had some great catches and passes, just turning and making the passes right to Jordan (Lewis) who had some crucial layups.
“For us to come in here after a tough loss on Saturday to West Plains and rebound the way we did, I am so proud of these kids. These seniors have provided such great leadership and gave us a great foundation.
“Tyler Williamson is doing a great job for us by turning down the three-point shot, and it is tough for any high school kid to do. He handled the ball and took some nice shots for us.
“Bryson stretches the defense, and Jordan (Lewis) does a great job of catching the ball in the post, being patient, and finding the open guy. Bryson knocked them down when we needed him the most; he is my war dog and was getting key rebounds for us at the end.”
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