Next: Girard vs. Liberty, Saturday, 7:30 p.m. at the Covelli Centre.
Next: Lakeview at Newton Falls, Friday, 7:30 p.m.
By Doug Chapin
Sophomore point guard Preston Williams poured in 26 points and the Liberty High basketball team rallied from a 13-point first-half deficit on Tuesday on the way to a 50-46 victory over Lakeview High.
Williams, who did not start the game, picked up the slack for three other starters who missed the game — Jalen Mann, Craig Washington and John Rivers.
“It really was a good win for us having some of our starters out,” Liberty coach Marlon McGaughy said. “We’ve been stressing defense all year and playing team ball. Tonight, with our big guys out, it was good to see us come together as a team.”
The 5-foot-10 Williams was 10-for-14 from the field and 5-for-6 at the foul line. Most of his points came on drives to the basket.
Lakeview (7-6, 1-2 All-American Conference White Tier) held a 16-8 lead after one quarter and led 21-8 less than a minute into the second quarter.
The Bulldogs led 26-14 late in the quarter before Liberty ran off six straight points, all off of steals in the backcourt.
“Not only were we up by 12, but we had held them to just 14 points at that point,” Lakeview coach George Lanterman said. “I felt that we really had defended them the right way, our intensity was really good, and we just lost focus there for the last minute and a half.
“Do I call a timeout with 30 seconds to go? You just hope you get through the half,” Lanterman said. “We talked about that at halftime. I thought we had our heads down when we came in at halftime even though, until the last minute, we had controlled the first half.
“Give Liberty’s kids credit, they came out, they got excited about it. I thought they played with a different speed in the second half, give them credit. And we never changed our speed.”
Lakeview seemingly recovered from the lapse when the third quarter began and still led 32-24 at the 3:49 mark. But Liberty (6-7, 1-2 AAC White) ran off nine straight points, seven by Williams, for a 33-32 lead, the Leopards first advantage since 4-2.
Zach McDivitt, who led Lakeview with 13 points, nailed a 3-pointer with eight seconds left to give the Bulldogs a 35-33 lead heading into the final quarter.
Liberty worked out to a 43-37 lead, then McDivitt sank another 3-pointer and scored off a steal to make it 43-42 with 3:40 remaining. The Leopards blanked their hosts for the next three minutes and slowly worked the lead back to 47-42.
Jabril Brown had an outstanding game for the Leopards with 10 points, 11 rebounds and five steals.
Austin Haines added 10 points for Lakeview and Elliot Metheny had eight.