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Undermanned Lebanon Pulls Away From John Stark

  • Lebanon's Jackson Stone (11) reaches for a rebound against John Stark's Christian Barr during their game on Jan. 23, 2019 in Lebanon, N.H. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Lebanon's Tommy Berthasavage (4) and John Stark's Noah Gamache chase down a loose ball during their game on Jan. 23, 2019 in Lebanon, N.H. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Minutes before the start of the Lebanon boys basketball game on Jan. 23, 2019, in Lebanon, N.H., officials noticed a torn net. Custodians Dave Vivian, on ladder, and Terry Dube, right, fixed the problem. Lebanon Athletic Director Mike Stone helps with keeping the ladder steady. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Lebanon — Watching Lebanon High’s boys basketball team dash and dice through defenses can be something to behold, even with two of its most talented players sitting on the bench in street clothes.

That goes twofold when Raiders junior Jon Willeman is shooting lights out.

Willeman scored a game-high 27 points, nine in the fourth quarter, to help understaffed Lebanon hold off slumping John Stark in a 61-48 NHIAA Division II win on Wednesday night at Lang Metcalf Gymnasium.

Wade Rainey added 15 points for the Raiders, who out-scored the Generals, 13-5, in the final stanza to stretch their win streak to three games.

“Those two (Rainey and Willeman), they know how to play. They play well together,” Lebanon head coach Dave Faucher said. “You get them on the same side of the floor against a zone, they feel the gaps and they know where to cut into. They’re always looking for each other. It’s pretty good.”

Missing from the game for Lebanon were junior point guard Logan Falzarano — still out with a broken right hand, and senior guard Hunter Bienvenu — out for what Faucher called a team issue. Bienvenu is scheduled to miss one more game before returning. Falzarano’s status is still up the air. Only seven players saw action for Lebanon (8-3 overall, 6-2 league) on Wednesday.

The difference, Faucher said, is his team’s defensive game. The offense, it seems, hasn’t missed a beat in their absence.

“It affects our defense and team speed and quickness, more so than it does offensively,” the Raiders coach said. “We’ve kind of figured things out offensively. We were a little careless for a while without them. But tonight we only had two turnovers as a team, which is huge.”

Lebanon led 23-17 at halftime before the game opened up offensively and John Stark — led by 6-foot-4 center Christian Barr — found its offensive groove. The Raiders and Generals combined for 51 points in the third period, and John Stark cut Lebanon’s lead to two points, 45-43, off a 3-pointer by Chad Martin with 10 seconds remaining in the quarter.

“It looked like every possession they were scoring,” Faucher said. “They were hitting 3s — they’re not known as a 3-point-shooting team. They really had it going for a while tonight. It brought out the best in us. A lesser night, that could have been a defeat.

“It was just one of those games where the other team was playing really well, and you’re forced to play as well as you can to win.”

A Willeman 3-pointer at the buzzer re-established a five-point lead headed into the fourth.

“That was huge,” Faucher said.

Lebanon took control in the final quarter, limiting the Generals to only three points over a seven-minute span before finally breaking through in the final seconds. Willeman was 4-for-4 from the free throw line down the stretch, helping the Raiders improve to 6-2.

“I thought we did a good job dissecting their zone, getting good looks,” Faucher said. “I thought we had a tough time with their size and we gave them a little too much floor space. When we brought it back, toward the end of the third quarter, we really took control of the game.”

Barr led the Generals with 19 points, scoring 14 in the third quarter as John Stark fell to 2-6. Lebanon freshman Jackson Stone added 12 points and Caleb Smith netted five points for the hosts.

“I had a freshman (Smith) on him,” Faucher said of Barr. “The game swung when Wade (Rainey) defended him. In the fourth quarter, he didn’t do much.”

Lebanon travels to Souhegan (6-2) on Friday before hosting D-II leading Pembroke (8-1) next Tuesday.

Josh Weinreb can be reached at jweinreb@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.