Lebanon girls advance past Edgewood with defense

The big numbers next to Alexis Straw’s name Tuesday night were 22 points and six assists. But ask her what mattered most for her Lebanon High School basketball team and the answer doesn’t mention offense.

“We only gave them two points that third quarter,” Straw said with a winning smile. “Shots weren’t falling much, but our defense is what really held it for us.”

The Warriors’ defense and the offense it created turned a three-point halftime lead into a 51-31 victory over Edgewood in the second round of the Division I sectional at Troy.

The sixth-seeded Warriors (16-7) will be back at Troy at 6 p.m. on Friday to face No. 2 Springboro, a 48-32 winner over Troy, for a sectional title.

Lebanon lost to Springboro (19-5) by one and eight points this season and finished second to the Panthers in the Greater Western Ohio Conference National West Division.

Edgewood (20-4) scored first in the third quarter to cut Lebanon’s lead to 24-23 with 7:19 left. The Cougars didn’t score again until 6:55 remained in the game.

“Our defense was really the secret to our offense,” Lebanon coach Rob Hodges said. “Because it got us the momentum to go and get our feet underneath us. We wanted to attack on offense. And the best way to attack on offense is immediately after you attack on defense.”

Lebanon senior forward Rachel Perry led the attack that resulted in a 15-0 run to finish the third quarter up 39-23. She was in on almost every key play of the run’s first 10 points. She scored, grabbed a rebound and threw a long outlet pass to Straw for a layup, kept the ball alive on the offensive boards to allow Logan Mueller to score and scored again. Perry finished with 15 points and eight rebounds.

“She attacks the ball harder than anybody I’ve seen,” Hodges said. “She goes after the rebounds, she goes after the loose balls. She’s tenacious. She uses her athleticism to get all the advantages she gets. She has the gift of jumping, the gift of length and quickness. And those three together are a really good combination.”

Edgewood had some layup attempts early in the third quarter that didn’t fall. After that, the Warriors challenged shots and kept the Cougars away from the basket.

Straw took over with a strong driving layup and 3-pointer to close the third. She kept it going to start the fourth to score 12 straight points for the Warriors to push the lead to 46-28.

“You could tell that was her run,” Hodges said. “I think she’s the one who really wanted to make that separation happen. She did that on very little breaks.”

As the lead stretched, the Cougars had to become more aggressive on defense.

“We play good, solid, halfcourt man-to-man defense, nothing fancy,” Edgewood coach Greg Brown said. “But when you’re down you have to take risks and do things you’re not used to doing. And they exposed us.”

The Cougars also lost 42-23 at Lebanon in December.

Edgewood 14-7-2-8—31

Lebanon 13-11-15-12—51

EDGEWOOD (20-4): Lauren Gerber 3 0 8, Jessa Brown 3 0 7, Tori Childers 2 3 7, Cierra Lipps 3 0 6, Lexie Sparks 1 0 3. Totals: 12-3-31

LEBANON (16-7): Alexis Straw 8 3 22, Rachel Perry 7 1 15, Alex Warning 4 0 10, Ashley West 0 1 1, Logan Mueller 1 0 2, Taylor Hebert 0 1 1. Totals: 20-6-51

3-pointers: E 4 (Gerber 2, Brown, Sparks), L 5 (Straw 3, Warning 2)

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