ELDERSBURG — A box of cookies and a lot of pizza awaited Century’s boys basketball players as they filed out of the locker room.
The Knights had just defeated crosstown foe Liberty in a riveting 66-64 home victory Friday, ending the Lions’ undefeated season and tying the Knights with their rivals for first place in the Carroll County Athletic League standings.
The last time the teams faced each other, at Liberty High School, the Lions pulled out a stunning 79-78 victory in double overtime on Jan. 11.
“It was a big win for us,” Knights coach George Wunder said. “Obviously there’s no question they’re a great basketball team and they’re really well coached so they’re really good. We’re just really proud of our guys’ effort tonight and they made some big plays tonight when we really needed them to.”
Senior forward Matt Huber notched a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds, and senior guard Carter Truby led the way with 23 points and seven boards for the Knights (14-3, 9-1 CCAL).
Century was forced to play catch-up through the entire first half as Liberty maintained the lead through both quarters. Lions senior center Tristan Kent scored 16 of his 33 points in the first half alone. The Lions (16-1, 7-1) led 18-14 after one quarter, and a basket from Kent gave the visitors a 20-16 lead in the second. A layup from Truby trimmed the deficit by two, but it was the closest Century got in the quarter.
Liberty carried a 36-28 lead into the break, but the Knights used a 9-0 scoring run in the third quarter to tie the game at 37-37.
From there, the Knights started to take control. Junior guard Justin Wunder scored six points of his own to bring the Knights up 43-39, and Truby’s layup at the buzzer made it 50-46.
Kent and junior forward Peyton Scheufele shared points back and forth in the final quarter for the Lions.
It was very back-and-forth in the final quarter as the Lions tried to inch closer to the Knights’ lead. Kent scored the final six points for the Lions to bring them within two at the end of the game.
The Knights were 8-for-10 from the free-throw line in the final quarter, however, which proved critical.
“We always practice free throws and we know they’re always a big part of a basketball game, especially when it’s tight,” Truby said. “It’s always going to be close when we play Liberty so it was a big deal that we could make all of our free throws … except for one.”
Truby playfully shoved teammate Jared Lamb in reference to Lamb missing one free throw at the end of the game.
The Knights haven’t lost since they last played Liberty and they are unbeaten through six games.
“It’s been great, we’ve grown up playing together, us five seniors and even the guys on Liberty, we’ve all grown up playing together,” Huber said. “It’s fun to come together and play against each other for what could be the last time. As a team, we’re always together, tight, we help each other out in practice and it shows on the court.”