By Mike Maltais
Unforced Liberty Bell turnovers, a half-court press and some timely three-point shooting helped Tonasket edge the Mountain Lions, 69-60, in non-league varsity basketball action at Liberty Bell last Friday (Dec. 6). But the Tigers had to work at it.
For the first two quarters of Liberty Bell’s first full game of the season, both teams were neck-and-neck with only one point separating them by halftime.
The Mountain Lions led, 19-18, at the end of the first quarter when senior guard Austin Watson stole the ball from a Tiger opponent near Liberty Bell’s basket and scored a lay-up just before the buzzer.
Good three-point shooting kept Tonasket in the game through the first half as each team had matching 18-point second quarters to give Liberty Bell a one-point advantage going into the locker room.
Tonasket employed a half-court press during part of the second half and that along with Liberty Bell turnovers allowed the Tigers to outscore the Mountain Lions, 13-6, through most of the third quarter until a three-pointer by senior Morgan Ott just beat the clock to end the quarter with Tonasket up 49-45.
Junior Willy Duguay opened the fourth quarter with two free throws to close to within two of Tonasket, but the Tigers capitalized on last-minute Mountain Lion fouls to build their lead to nine points.
“I thought Willy Duguay played the most consistent for us Friday night, with a lot of solid play on the inside,” said coach Kyle Acord.
Earlier in the week, the Mountain Lions warmed up at the Okanogan Jamboree with a couple of one-quarter games against Tonasket and Okanogan.
“We were short-handed at the Jamboree, but it was a good chance to get some other guys a bit of experience in varsity action,” Acord said.
The short unofficial games also gave the coach an opportunity to evaluate his pre-season varsity roster selected for the Jamboree. Senior Wes Pilkinton, whose inclusion on that squad was overlooked in last week’s team preview, made the final cut, and Acord said he’s considering “another junior and a few sophomores who are currently still challenging for varsity sports as well.”
The junior varsity boys played a spirited game against the Tonasket JV in the Eagle gym but came up seven points short in the end, 71-64.
The Mountain Lions were scheduled to play the Billygoats at Pateros Tuesday (Dec. 10). Liberty Bell will be on the road for the next seven games through Jan 7. Their next home opponent will be league rival Riverside Christian from the Central Washington 2B League South division on Jan. 11.