LEAVITTSBURG -- LaBrae High couldn't win the Trumbull Athletic Conference championship this year, so for the Vikings the next best thing was to spoil things for Liberty.
The Vikings (16-4, 11-3 TAC) outscored Liberty 29-18 in the final quarter and rallied to defeat the Leopards 74-68 Friday night.
Liberty (15-5, 12-2) needed a victory to claim the outright title in the conference. They have to settle for a tie with Lakeview instead.
Friday's contest was the final game for LaBrae in its old gym as they will move to a new school and new gym next season and for Vikings coach Gregg Isler it will be something to remember.
"These kids are going to remember this win for a long time," Isler said. "It was a tremendous effort against an outstanding team like Liberty."
Junior Danny Hartman led the Vikings with 24 points, including 11 in the final quarter, while senior Todd Rowan added 15 points, 12 of them in the fourth quarter.
Kershaw leads Liberty
Ed Kershaw, who led all scorers with 36 points for Liberty, went on a hot streak at the end of the third quarter, scoring the final seven points to pull the Leopards from a two-point deficit (45-43) to a five-point lead (50-45) going into the final eight minutes.
But the final quarter started poorly for the Leopards as senior Brandon Cornwell picked up his fourth personal foul just seconds into the quarter.
While Hartman was shooting his first foul shot, Cornwell was hit with a technical foul, meaning his disqualification. Hartman made his second foul shot, Jason Frederick made two on the technical and the Vikings got the ball and scored again for a quick six-point run. Before it was over they added seven more points to complete a 13-0 run and a 58-50 lead.
Liberty would come back on three consecutive buckets by Kershaw to cut the lead to one point, 60-59, but the Vikings wouldn't let them any closer.
Leading 69-65, the Vikings missed a shot, but Todd Rowan stole the ball, scored and was fouled as LaBrae reeled off seven more unanswered points to close out the victory.
"Those first seconds of the fourth period were the difference in the game," said Liberty coach Burt Stellers. "We had a five-point lead going in and came out eight points behind, besides losing Cornwell."
Stellers praised the play of Kershaw.
"Ed Kershaw is the finest individual player in the TAC-8 and he did everything he could to come out of here with a win tonight," Stellers said.
Liberty jumped out quickly, taking a 6-0 lead and extending that to 16-6 before Hartman hit a 3-pointer just before the first-quarter buzzer.
LaBrae came back to take the lead 19-18 midway in the second quarter and the two teams battled the remainder of the half, which ended with LaBrae on top 33-31.
The third period was a battle with five ties and six lead changes and it wasn't until the final minute when Kershaw took over that the Leopards pulled on top.
LaBrae finished 25-of-64 from the field and 19-of-23 at the foul line, while Liberty was 28-of-70 and 9-of-14. The Leopards dominated the boards, 51-29, with Lonnie Showers getting 14 and Kershaw 12.