ELDERSBURG — The final 12.7 seconds of Friday night’s boys basketball game seemed to last a lifetime for Century.
Liberty senior guard Connor Stewart had just hit a crucial 3-pointer with less than two minutes to play to give the Lions a one-point lead over the Knights, their first lead of the game. The Knights responded with a pair of free throws from senior guard Justin Wunder, and called a timeout with 1:10 to go.
The Lions got the ball back with just under 13 seconds to go, and the Knights knew they couldn’t foul.
The Lions did, however, giving Knights junior guard Colby Owings the chance to shoot a pair of free throws. He made both — and the Knights held on to defeat the Lions 58-55.
“They were tough free throws for him,” Wunder said. “It was nervous, I bet, because the game was on the line, the crowd was going crazy. It was for the win, but he nailed them so it was great.”
Junior guard Noah Riley led the Knights with 17 points and Wunder contributed 13. Owings scored eight points and added four rebounds and six blocks for the Knights (10-2, 5-1 CCAL), who won their third in a row and ninth in the last 10 games.
“It was a great game played by two good teams,” Knights coach George Wunder said. “It was a great environment out there by the student bodies from both teams so it was just a really good game for the community as well. I’m really proud of our guys, they made some plays, Liberty made a run at us but we kept our composure and made some plays down the stretch.
“I’m really proud of our guys, it was a great team effort tonight.”
The Knights hit five 3-pointers in the first half, and seven overall. Justin Wunder hit two of those in the first quarter, and his second sparked a 6-0 scoring run that gave the Knights an 11-6 lead. The Lions responded with 10 straight points of their own, thanks to a three-point play from Stewart.
Lions sophomore Elias Rimel hit a 3 with 50 seconds on the clock to give the Lions their first lead, but Wunder responded with two free throws to tie the teams 16-16 at the end of the frame.
A pair of 3s from Riley and senior guard Matt Daniel helped boost the Knights in the second quarter and they picked up an eight-point lead. The teams traded points back and forth, but the Knights held on to lead by 10 at the break.
A pair of free throws from Connor Stewart and a 3 from Shane Stewart brought the Lions within five, 35-30. The Knights went on a 7-0 scoring run before Peyton Scheufele pushed back with a three-point play. Still, Century maintained its lead and used a 5-0 scoring run to lead 49-41 after three.
The Lions used another 10-0 run that included 3s from Connor Stewart and Shane Stewart to build their first lead in the final quarter.
“I thought they played us strong, had good offense and we knew we had to guard well,” Owings said. “We played the defense Coach told us to play and we came out with the win.”
Shane Stewart scored 13 points and Scheufele led the way with 15 for the Lions (6-7, 3-2).
“In my opinion, minus the second quarter, I thought we executed very well,” Lions coach Brian Tombs said. “We didn’t finish, we didn’t necessarily always make the basket but I thought we got good looks and took advantage of areas that we needed to. More or less, I was happy for the guys and Shane in particular because they’ve been listening. We had two grueling days of practice and to come out here and see results right away was good.”
Liberty (55): Shane Stewart 13, Justin Sheetz 3, Connor Stewart 11, Peyton Scheufele 15, Elias Rimel 3, Aaron Ostendorf 6, Jaden Adams 4.
Century (58): Noah Riley 17, Matt Daniel 9, Colby Owings 8, Spencer Copley 5, Justin Wunder 13, John Pavlick 6.