Basketball: Liberty used 'phenomenal' second half to overcome Bel Air

Liberty junior guard Jack Selby talks about the Lions' rout of Bel Air.

Liberty put together a balanced offense and got a spark from its bench to defeat visiting Bel Air, 74-40, Monday night — the game ended the Lion’s stretch of non-league games.

The Lions have beaten Frederick and lost to Walkersville so far this season, but now they can focus on county play when Winters Mill visits this Friday at 7 p.m.


“It’s (coach) Devon Lesniak’s first year there, and he will have his kids playing hard,” Lions coach Brian Tombs said. “They have real good guard play and shoot the ball really well. We have to play really well and to beat a good team, that’s what you have to expect.”

Liberty will go into the game with momentum, coming off back-to-back wins.

Junior point guard Jack Selby (10 points, 5 assists) and 6-foot-6 junior center Tristan Kent (10 points, 8 rebounds) led the Lions to the win over Bel Air (0-3).

“Jack runs the show and when he gets going, it gets everybody else moving,” Tombs said. “Tristan demands so much attention. Getting both of those guys off to an early start just opens up everybody else for easier opportunities.”

Twelve Liberty players scored and the Lions also received solid contributions from Steven Goetz (9 points), Peyton Scheufele (9, 3 steals) and Ben Brown (8 points).

Liberty turned the game into a blowout in the third quarter, going on a 14-0 run and Goetz had a pair of 3 pointers to highlight that stretch.

Bel Air missed its first six shots and committed three turnovers before Connor Smith sank two free throws with 2:59 remaining after Goetz was called for a technical foul. The Bobcats only scored seven points in the period.

“Our downfall the past two games has been the third quarter,” said Bel Air coach Alex Darko, whose team had 24 turnovers. “We didn’t run our offense very well at all.”

The Bobcats committed five turnovers in the first 1:52, but when Smith (10 points) hit a 3-pointer, he tied the score at 5 with 5:43 remaining. A 7-0 run for Liberty ensued to push the advantage to 12-5 and Jack Merchak keyed it with a 3-pointer.

Bel Air’s Hunter Hruz hit back-to-back 3 pointers in the last minute of the quarter to trim the Lions’ lead to 16-13 at the end of the period.

Liberty extended its advantage to 22-15 early in the second quarter on Peyton Scheufele’s off-balance jumper.

Kent gave the Lions their biggest lead of the quarter on a put back midway through the period, and they led 33-24 at halftime.

“The second quarter was a little slow for us,” Selby said. “But in the second half, I thought we were phenomenal.”

Liberty (74): Ben Brown 8, Tristan Kent 10, Peyton Scheufele 9, Jack Selby 10, Steven Goetz 9, Cameron Blankenship 3, Tim Cortese 4, Ronak Morgan 2, Connor Stewart 6, Grant Cavender 2, Ryan Luthe 6, Jack Merchak 5.


Bel Air (40): Connor Smith 10, Kieran McDermott 6, Cameron Kalandros 2, Brandon Kestner 2, Hunter Hruz 6, Terrell Brown 3, Jaiden Jakubowski 5, Michael Nicol 6.