WINFIELD — The two student sections traded chants and cheers throughout South Carroll’s Friday night matchup at home against Liberty.
But on the court it was one sided as the Lions built an early lead into a 71-50 victory.
The Lions (15-0, 6-0 in the Carroll County Athletic League) continue their best start in school history and showed a balanced scoring attack throughout the game.
Senior center Tristan Kent got into foul trouble early, picking up his second personal in the first quarter on an offensive foul. Luckily for Liberty, Connor Stewart and Peyton Scheufele paced the Lions coring nine and five first-quarter points, respectively.
Stewart led the Lions with 14 points and despite less playing time in the first half, Kent finished with a dominating performance.
He totaled 13 points and 16 rebounds, eight of each coming in the third quarter when Liberty extended the lead into the 20s. Jack Merchak added 11 points and Cam Blankenship chipped in with nine.
From the opening tipoff, the Lions found success on offense when they moved the ball around and make the extra pass. For many teams when the big man gets the ball in the lane, it’s either a shot attempt or turnover.
But Kent kept the ball high and continued to look for open cutters, especially on the baseline.
South Carroll (6-9, 4-4) kept the game within reach for a quarter, down just 22-15 after the first, but Liberty’s high-scoring offense was too much for the Cavs to stay competitive throughout the contest.
Carson Scott scored a game-high 16 points and Mason Gavin tallied 10.
The Cavs had a few multiple minute runs on offense, but ultimately couldn’t sustain the amount of points Liberty was scoring on the other end. South Carroll had effective ball movement for stretches, but often the passes ended in jump shots and not high percentage shots inside the lane.
South Carroll switched to a zone defense in the second quarter and while initially slowing down Liberty, the Lions adjusted and used the shot clock and decisive passes to dissect the defense.
With three players reaching double digits, Liberty had nine total players register a point, and much of that is attributed to its balanced, disciplined offense. The Lions did not attempt nearly as many 3-point shots as were available, instead searching for teammates with better, higher-percentage shots.
Liberty’s defense also helped it widen its lead and secure a 15th consecutive victory. The Lions switched between man-to-man and zone defense, staying aggressive and active throughout the game. South Carroll had to work to make many of its passes and avoid Liberty players that were cutting off passing lanes.
Dylan Graham, the Cavaiers’ leading scorer, was held to one point.