The first of Liberty’s final three boys basketball games of the 2021 season took place Monday when the Lions faced rival South Carroll for the first time this winter.
The significance of reaching this stage of the season wasn’t lost on Liberty, which put together a few dominant stretches to overpower the Cavaliers and win 60-40 in a battle for second place in the Carroll County Athletic League standings.
The Lions (8-2) stayed on their season-long pace in points per game, and outscored the Cavs 31-18 in the second and third quarters to take control. Their inside-outside passing game was on point, which gave their veterans a chance to shine.
“Oh man, when we’re in that rhythm we just feel unstoppable out there,” said senior forward Jayden Adams, who led the way with a game-high 16 points. “We get the ball movement and we get everybody involved with plays. When everybody’s scoring and everyone is doing what they’re supposed to do, we can’t really be stopped.”
Liberty closed the second quarter on a 10-4 run, with junior guard Shane Stewart draining a 3-pointer in the final minutes and Steven Talbot, a senior forward, swishing a 3 just before the buzzer. The Lions opened the third quarter with a 9-4 scoring spurt, and when Stewart converted a layup with 3:34 remaining his team led 41-21.
Stewart finished with 14 points and senior guard Justin Sheetz added 13.
“Overall I’m pleased,” said Liberty coach Brian Tombs. “We’re always those guys that constantly harp on, ‘Hey, we’ve got to do this all the time.’ Just as reminders. ... We don’t have any practices. For the younger guys in particular, they need to hear it because we’re not getting the reps in practice.”
South Carroll (7-4) got 11 points from Aiden Greaney but no other player finished in double figures. The Cavs were disjointed from the start and committed six first-quarter turnovers. SC coach Jim Carnes lamented his team’s early misses as well, compared to Liberty’s hot shooting.
“They were outstanding from the field,” Carnes said about the Lions. “When they shoot like that it’s going to be hard for anybody to beat them.”
Liberty has a road game Wednesday with Manchester Valley before hosting the Cavaliers on Thursday to close out the week. The Lions are chasing Century (9-1) in the standings, with the reigning county champion Knights scheduled to play South Carroll on Wednesday and Francis Scott Key on Friday.