Liberty gains 46-38 win over Newton Falls
Mychal Doblanski paced the Leopards with 23 points and seven boards.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
LIBERTY -- Newton Falls has had the lead in the fourth quarter in all six of its Trumbull Athletic Conference boys basketball games this season, but the Tigers are just 3-3.
Tuesday night the Tigers led Liberty, 35-34, with four minutes remaining in the contest, but the Leopards outscored them 12-4 over those final four minutes and took a 46-38 victory.
Liberty (9-3, 4-2 TAC) was led by senior Mychal Doblanski, who tossed in a game-high 23 points and added seven rebounds, and featured the Leopards in their fourth quarter run by scoring 10 of their final 16 points.
"Mychal has been doing that for us for the last three years and I'm certainly glad that he's playing for us," said Liberty coach Burt Stellers.
"I thought our kids did a good job adjusting in the second half and we executed very well," Stellers added.
Shut down inside game
Newton Falls (5-6, 3-3) had 6-foot-10, 295-pound sophomore Marcus Fowler in the post, but the Leopards collapsed on him all night and limited him to just four points.
"Fowler is just huge and we knew we had to limit his touches on the basketball and we did that pretty well," Stellers added.
The Tigers were led by senior Matt Dillon, who scored 16 points, 11 of them in the final quarter.
"Dillon is just good and he showed that in the fourth quarter," Stellers said.
Newton Falls coach Roy Sembach said his team made too many mistakes.
"Turnovers and mental errors cost us again," Sembach said. "You can't beat a good team like Liberty making that many mental mistakes.
"Dillon is our go-to guy and I don't mind him having the ball in any situation," he added. "Marcus [Fowler] got his first real taste of a collapsing defense on him and he really had trouble handling it tonight, but he's young and he's only going to get better. He was averaging 14 points and nine rebounds going into the game."
Tigers take early lead
The Tigers, behind three 3-point shots, two by Cameron McCleary and one by Dillon, took a 15-8 lead after the first quarter.
The Leopards started adjusting in the second quarter and held the Tigers to just four points while closing the gap to 19-16 at halftime.
McCleary opened the third quarter with his third 3-point basket of the contest to expand the Tigers' lead to 22-16, but then the Leopards caught fire.
Liberty outscored the Tigers 12-2 over the next six minutes to take a 28-24 lead and still led 30-26 at the end of the quarter.
The final quarter was mostly a free throw shooting contest that was won by the Tigers, but the Leopards made four field goals to Newton Falls' two.
Foul shooting contest
Liberty was 8-for-9 at the line in the quarter, Doblanski was a perfect 6-of-6, while Newton Falls hit all nine of its free throws with Dillon getting seven of them.
After the Tigers took their only lead of the quarter, 35-34, with 4:01 remaining, Doblanski scored the next six points for Liberty and put the Leopards back in command, 40-37.
After Dillon's two free throws, Liberty scored eight straight points to put the contest away.
"It was a big win for us," Stellers said, "but then again every game is a big game in this league."