By Travis Miller
LEBANON — It was far from pretty, but the Class 3A No. 5-ranked Lebanon Tigers stayed perfect on the season, while Plainfield remained imperfect, despite the Quakers’ best efforts.
Lebanon (6-0) got a double-double from Cord Barricklow — 7 points and 12 rebounds — as the Tigers bruised past the Quakers (0-6) 54-46.
“We didn’t shoot the ball well and Plainfield did a nice job defensively,” Lebanon coach Albert Hendrix said. “It really wasn’t a lot of pressure that hurt us. It was more of them making us take some tough shots. We missed some easy shots inside that we normally make and we had some poor free throw shooting.”
This physical game had plenty of free throw shooting, as the teams combined to go to the line 59 times. Lebanon had 39 attempts from the charity stripe but was only able to hit 21 of them. That allowed the Quakers to stay close, despite trailing 16-9 after one quarter and 24-22 at the half.
“If you can beat their trap and get the ball to the middle, then you’ve got numbers and you’re playing four on three,” Plainfield coach Andy Weaver said. “We were able to make some passes and baskets there out of their press that put us in a good position at halftime.”
Plainfield was able to turn a 9-2 second quarter run, thanks to breaking the press, after it looked as if the Tigers would build some space. The Quakers’ Jon Aldridge came off the bench, connecting twice on backdoor cuts and Bobby Jensen also scored inside to cut a nine point lead down to two at the half.
Plainfield then kept it close and tied the game for the only time at 27-27 when Josh Courtney hit two free throws with 4:23 left in the third quarter. Lebanon then took a timeout to regroup, and the Tigers were able to go back down low to their big forward Barricklow for a basket with 3:58 in the third, putting the Tigers ahead for good.
“We want to try and get one post touch per possession of the ball,” Hendrix said of his strategy to get the ball down low. “Tonight, I feel like we might have forced a lot of shots that we haven’t been doing. If we shoot a good percentage from the free throw line we’d probably win this game by a lot more.”
Out of the tie Lebanon went on a 12-3 run that was highlighted by a steal and two-handed dunk from Tre’ Comage on the first possession of the fourth quarter. The Tigers were able to stretch the lead out to 39-30, but Plainfield would not go away.
Plainfield freshman Max Kurkowski twice hit big 3-pointers and some sloppy ball-handling from both teams prevented Lebanon from really pulling away.
Plainfield was forced into 23 turnovers, while Lebanon had 16 of its own.
Kurkowski’s second three of the fourth quarter cut the Lebanon lead to 43-39 with 5:05 left in the game, but Lebanon had an answer. Caleb Brannon, who struggled shooting the ball all night, answered with a critical triple with 4:43 left and after a Plainfield turnover he tacked on two more free throws to make it 48-39.
Plainfield got the lead back down to four at 50-46 with 1:41 left, but another turnover led to a breakaway basket by Barricklow with a minute left.
Brannon finished with 14 points for Lebanon, with six coming in the crucial fourth quarter. Courtney led Plainfield with 14 while Kurkowski had 12.