By brandon judeh
Attitude, effort, rebound and run.
Those simple words were the motivation Liberty head coach Dan Bubon gave to his team before the Leopards’ season opener against Howland on Friday night.
The Leopards took the advice as they cruised to an 83-70 victory.
“Our game plan for this season is to push the ball — if you’re going to play us, you are going to have to slow us down,” Bubon said. “We play 12 guys, sometimes it’s tough since there are only 160 total minutes to give out, but I try as best as I can to get them all in.”
Nine of those 12 players found the bottom of the net and five players reached double figures for the Leopards (1-0).
“These kids are tough — I never question how tough our kids are,” Bubon said.
After taking a 41-36 lead into halftime, Liberty came out in the third quarter and put the game away with an 11-0 run to start the half.
“I love how we came out in the third quarter,” Bubon said. “We were up by five at halftime, but our coaching staff thought we could have been up by 20 if we hadn’t fouled so much,” Bubon said.
Helping lead the Leopards second half surge was junior guard Asim Pleas Jr. who scored a team high 19 points, including seven in the third quarter.
Teammate Cameron Clark chipped in with 16 points and four rebounds. David Hight, Darrien Underwood and John Helms Jr. also scored in double figures for the Leopards.
Howland (0-1) would not go away quietly in the fourth quarter, as they put together an 11-2 run to cut the lead to single digits.
In the end, it was too much of Pleas and company.
“This was a great win and we have a lot of tough challenges coming up with Poland, Fitch and East coming up in the next couple of weeks,” Bubon said.
Senior Arbie Murray, who scored a game high 26 points and added eight rebounds, led Howland.
Tigers co-captain Brendan Cope added 11 points and seven boards.