LEBANON — Six weeks worth of frustration gushed out of the Lebanon High School basketball team on Friday night.
Lebanon won its first game of the season in 11 tries, beating Monroe 62-46.
The Warriors shot 60 percent from the field and attempted 26 free throws to the visiting Hornets’ two to improve to 1-10.
“This feels awesome, absolutely amazing,” said senior Beau Smith, who scored a game-high 17 points. “No way we were going to let this one get away.
“We finally played a whole game of team basketball, in my opinion. It was a lot of fun.”
Smith scored eight points in the final five minutes, stopping a Monroe rally that cut a 17-point Warrior lead to eight points.
“Our kids fought hard and I’m proud of them for that,” Monroe coach Casey Popplewell said. “We cut it to eight and had the ball twice and turned it over both times. Those are big possessions, and we have to realize that those are big possessions and do a better job of taking care of the ball.”
Monroe (1-12) took an early lead behind the 3-point shooting of Logan Rutter, who finished with a team-high 16 points.
But foul trouble plagued the Hornets in the second quarter, and Lebanon went on a 21-5 run to take control of the game.
“We have to do a better job on defense of keeping our man in front of us and making them take a tough shot while not fouling,” Popplewell said. “We had to play the second quarter without three starters, and it’s tough to overcome a free throw discrepancy like that.”
Lebanon sophomore Ben Esposito was a force inside, scoring 14 points and grabbing six rebounds.
“I had a mind-set where I was ready to go to work tonight,” Esposito said. “I felt like I was going up against some guys I was stronger than and I was able to post them up.
“I got some great post feeds from our guards, and we did a good job of playing team basketball.”
Lebanon took nearly all of its shots from inside the paint on the evening, attempting only one 3-pointer.
“Our philosophy tonight was to attack the basket and either make layups or get fouled,” Lebanon assistant coach Matt Higgins said. Warrior head coach Pat Murphy missed the game due to a two-game suspension he was serving for being ejected from a game on Jan. 7.
“Tonight was about the kids. They came out with a purpose to win and put together a full game. They executed and were determined to finish out the game and get the win.”
Nick Esposito added 11 points for the Warriors, while Colton Conover had nine.
Monroe also had three players in double figures. In addition to Rutter’s 16, Zach Pate and Sam Thompson each scored 10.
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