ELDERSBURG — Century senior forward Zach Owings made it look easy Friday night against Liberty.
Owings scored a career-high 33 points on a 13-for-19 shooting performance from the field.
Unfortunately, the Knights were playing the county champion Lions, a team who has showed plenty of poise late in games. And Liberty pulled out another close game, beating Century 60-56 on its home floor.
“We have found different ways to win and that’s kind of been a microcosm of our season,” Liberty coach Brian Tombs said. “We overcome things. We have composure down the stretch and our kids are confident in what we are doing.”
Liberty (17-3, 11-0 county) led by as many as 10 points in the third quarter, but Century made it a game in the final quarter.
The Knights (13-6, 7-5) trailed for the entire game until Owings hit a jumper with 2:44 left to tie it at 52-52. After Liberty’s Jack Merchak sank a short jumper, Owings made two free throws to tie it again with 45 seconds left.
Connor Stewart then converted a three-point play 12 seconds later to put the Lions ahead 57-54.
Owings had a layup to close to 57-56 with 22 seconds remaining, but Century wouldn’t score again as the Lions sank three free throws in the final 21.6 seconds.
Liberty’s Tristan Kent had two of them and finished with 17 points. Ronak Morgan added 10 points for the Lions, who won their seventh in a row.
“Liberty stepped up and made some foul shots (15-for-20 overall) when they had to,” said Century coach George Wunder, whose team shot 43 percent (22-for-51), including 1-for-15 from 3-point range. “And they made some big plays at the end of the game.”
Century started the third quarter better than the first two, outscoring the hosts 6-3 and allowing the Knights to trim the lead to 32-24 less than a minute into play.
Owings then scored six consecutive points to make it 34-30 with 4:35 remaining. Liberty quickly extended the advantage to 38-30 and the Lions led 48-42 at the end of the period.
Owings had 25 points through three quarters.
“He had confidence in mid-range jumper and could get to the rim,” Wunder said. “He just had one of those nights.”
Liberty started the game fast. The Lions jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the first 3:20 and Jack Selby capped the stretch with a jumper.
Century missed its first five shots before Owings hit back-to-back jumpers to trim the lead to 6-4.
Liberty answered with a 6-2 run to finish the period and take a 12-6 advantage. Kent scored the first four points of the second quarter to boost Liberty’s lead to 16-6.
Century also struggled with its shooting to start the second quarter as the Knights missed its first four shots before Owings made a layup to make it 18-8.
Owings then really got hot.
He scored 12 of Century’s next 14 points as the Knights cut the deficit to 24-18. He converted two three-point plays in a row during that span. The Lions, however, ended the first half with a 5-0 spurt to lead 29-18 at the break.
“They are a really good team,” Owings said, “but in the playoffs we might get another shot at them.”
Liberty (60): Tristan Kent 17, Jack Selby 9, Peyton Scheufele 5, Jack Merchak 4, Ronak Morgan 10, Steven Goetz 9, Connor Stewart 6.
Century (56): Justin Wunder 3, Jared Lamb 2, Zach Owings 33, Azariah Knox 8, Carter Truby 10.
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Halftime: Liberty, 29-18.