By Mike Maltais
The Liberty Bell High School boys’ varsity basketball team, champions of the Central Washington 2B League North division, will face Kittitas, champions of CW2B South, in the first round of district playoff action at 7 p.m. Wednesday (Feb. 19) at Wenatchee High School.
The Mountain Lions, 9-2 in league play and 14-5 overall, closed out their regular season with a 51-25 Senior Night home win over league opponent Oroville last Friday.
In a pre-game ceremony, spectators, coaches and teammates acknowledged the Mountain Lions’seven seniors — Liam Daily, Cesar Dominguez, Jaymis Hanson, Morgan Ott, Logan Szafas, Daniel Sonnichsen and Austin Watson — and their parents for their contributions to the team.
The visiting Hornets seemed to have shrugged off an earlier 49-32 loss to Liberty Bell on Jan. 28 and came to town intent on evening the score.
Through the first two quarters of play it appeared Oroville just might make good on the threat as the Hornets only trailed Liberty Bell by five points at the end of the first quarter and seven at halftime.
However, when the teams adjourned to their respective locker rooms, that unpredictable mascot called momentum, capable of energizing or abandoning any team, left the floor with Liberty Bell.
As a consequence, when play resumed the Mountain Lions owned the second half as the team pumped in 27 points while holding Oroville to single digits.
Led by Szafas with 18 points and Hanson with 12, all seven seniors scored in the course of the game as Liberty Bell’s 14-point third quarter and 13-point fourth left the Hornets trailing by 26 when the buzzer sounded.
“We played a strong second half, particularly on defense,” said coach Kyle Acord. “It was great to see the guys make a few adjustments at halftime and play focused, team basketball after that.”
The Mountain Lions got an early season look at Kittitas on Jan. 7 when the Coyotes handed visiting Liberty Bell a 50-39 loss. The 8-0 Coyotes are undefeated in league play and 15-4 for the season.
If the Mountain Lions win on Wednesday, they will enter regional play as the No. 1 district seed. If they lose they will play the winner of the other half of the bracket at 11 a.m. on Saturday (Feb. 22) at Wenatchee High School. In that bracket Bridgeport was scheduled to play Riverside Christian on Wednesday (Feb. 19) in a loser-out game, with the winner advancing against Lake Roosevelt. The winner of Lake Roosevelt vs. either Riverside Christian or Bridgeport would be Liberty Bell’s Saturday opponent.
Mountain Lions’ boosters are invited to ride the LBHS Rooter Bus that will depart the high school at 4 p.m. on game day and leave the Methow Valley Community Center in Twisp at 4:15 p.m. Bus fare is $5 and game admission $7 ($5 with ASB card).
Liberty Bell vs. Oroville
LBHS 15 9 14 13 – 51
Oroville 10 7 6 2 – 25
Logan Szafas 18-6-1-0
Jaymis Hanson 12-6-2-3
Cesar Dominguez 7-5-2-0
Liam Daily 5-3-1-2
Austin Watson 3-3-0-2
Daniel Sonnichsen 3-1-2-0
Morgan Ott 2-2-0-0
Micah Klemmeck 1-1-0-0
Willy Duguay 0-3-2-4
Jorge Lara 0-2-1-0
Connor Cooley 0-2-0-0