Pete Prokop Court unveiled, but Campbell tops Liberty
Prokop Court unveiled, but Red Devils win
By John Bassetti
The late Pete Prokop would have enjoyed the action, but not the outcome as Liberty lost to Campbell Memorial for a second time this season, 51-48, in an All-American Conference, National Division game Friday night.
It followed a pre-game ceremony to unveil the naming of the Liberty High gym court floor for the former Liberty coach.
Michael Williams’ partial tip of Cameron Clark’s 3-point attempt as time expired preserved the win for the Red Devils (11-5), who also beat Liberty on Dec. 10, 55-35, when the game counted toward the AAC National Division standings.
On Friday, after Stephan Elash’s first of two free throw attempts snapped a 48-all tie with 39.9 seconds left, George Billiris put back Elash’s missed second free-throw attempt.
“They took the lead at the end of the first half, then we battled back although a lot of things didn’t go our way,” Campbell coach Mike Szenborn said, referring to the lopsided foul count that showed Campbell with 13 to Liberty’s 3 in the first 16 minutes before the Red Devils picked up the first four fouls of the third quarter.
“That’s a great victory for us,” Szenborn said. “We knew it would come down the wire, but we kept telling our kids ‘every possession, every possession; let’s get a stop and a bucket on the other end.’ ”
Liberty had a 46-41 lead but Campbell cut it to 46-45 on back-to-back baskets by Williams.
We were down with 3 or 4 minutes to go, so we told our kids to just hang in there and we did alright.”
Billiris and D.J. Harrison both had 14 points for the winners.
“He gave us a lot off the bench,” Szenborn said of Harrison, who had four 3-point goals. “That’s what we’re looking for — guys to step up.”
Liberty coach Dan Bubon wished that his team’s final in-bounds play with nine seconds remaining would have turned out better.
“We froze it,” Bubon said. “They took Asim [Pleas] away and, at that point, one of our other kids needed to step up and make a play,but time was running down. I should have called a timeout, but that [Clark’s attempt] was the best option, but it was tipped.”
Of Elash’s free-throw attempts, Szenborn said he was hoping his player would have made both, so the coaches could then call a timeout and set up a little full-court pressure, but the Red Devils got the offensive rebound and put it back up.
Pleas, who had a game-high 20 points, said Liberty (10-8) wasn’t getting rebounds when it counted.
“We were trying to get a stop,” Pleas said. “We knew we had to play defense, but we had to do that by getting a rebound and we were having a hard time getting our hands on loose balls and finishing out our defensive execution. Our defense usually leads our offense, but we weren’t getting many rebounds and that slowed our offense down and let them get into a full-court trap, which made us change what we wanted to do.”
On Liberty’s final in-bounds. Pleas got the ball, but then passed down court to Clark.
“Originally, we were supposed to screen the outside of the zone, but I ended up getting double-teamed, so I figured I’d pass to a teammate for us to get a better shot. It just didn’t happen that way But I still had confidence that, if he [Clark] would have gotten that shot off, we’d have a different outcome. But hats-off to Campbell because they always play good defense.”