By Mike Maltais
The Liberty Bell High School varsity boys’ basketball team hit a dead end on the road to the regional playoffs following losses to Kittitas and Lake Roosevelt in the bi-district playoffs at Wenatchee last week.
Kittitas catches ’em
The Mountain Lions let an eight-point fourth quarter lead slowly slip away to a pursuing Kittitas team as the Coyotes caught and dispatched the Mountain Lions by seven points, 55-48, in the Central Washington 2B district championship game at Wenatchee High School on Feb. 19.
Senior Cesar Dominguez got Liberty Bell on the scoreboard first in a game that was close through the first two quarters.
Junior Willy Duguay tied the game 9-9 with two free throws in the first quarter, and a three-pointer by Austin Watson knotted the score 19-all in the second period. Senior guard Jaymis Hanson gave Liberty Bell a 21-19 lead late in the second quarter as the Mountain Lions took a 25-23 lead into the halftime locker room.
“We put on another good run in the third,” said coach Kyle Acord, “but then Kittitas did an excellent job of disrupting our offense in the fourth quarter by denying our point guard [Hanson] and keeping us from setting up as we normally do. They also closed out the quarter with 12-for-14 free throw shooting.”
The Mountain Lions played without senior Logan Szafas, one of their leading scorers, who was sidelined with the flu.
“I think that may have affected the final quarter … some of our guys had to play more minutes than normal in such an extremely hard-played game and were probably a bit leg weary down the stretch,” Acord said.
Liberty Bell gradually extended its lead to 48-40 in the fourth quarter before Kittitas caught fire and outscored the Mountain Lions 23-8 through the last period to take a seven-point lead to the buzzer.
The win gave Kittitas the district title and first seed at upcoming regional competition against Liberty in Ellensburg this Friday (Feb. 28).
The loss left Liberty Bell with a second chance to advance to regionals in a loser-out game against Lake Roosevelt last Saturday.
Liberty Bell vs. Kittitas
LBHS 10 15 15 8 — 48
Kittitas 15 8 9 23 — 56
Willy Duguay 10-4-2-3
Cesar Dominguez 9-7-6-2
Austin Watson 9-0-1-1
Jaymis Hanson 7-3-3-2
Liam Daily 6-5-1-0
Jorge Lara 4-2-1-0
Daniel Sonnichsen 3-2-0-1
Raiders win in OT
Following a furious fourth-quarter comeback, the Mountain Lions gave up a heart-breaking three-point, 55-52 overtime loss to Lake Roosevelt last Saturday that allowed the Raiders to advance to regional play against Lind-Ritzville-Sprague at Cheney Saturday (March 1).
“Even though we had beaten them twice this season, we knew we would have our hands full,” Acord said. “Lake Roosevelt proved that to be true, jumping out to an early lead and building on it until the beginning of the fourth quarter, by which time they were ahead by 12 points.”
By that time Austin Watson had been benched with a shoulder injury and Szafas, still recovering from the flu, was only able to play in short spurts.
“It would have been easy to give up at that point,” Acord said. “Instead, the guys responded with a tremendous comeback that led to a very exciting game.
“At the beginning of the fourth, we switched to a court zone press that I think took Lake Roosevelt out of what they were trying to do a little bit, and our guys played extremely hard to make it work,” Acord said. “Then with just over two minutes left to play and still down by six points, Daniel Sonnichsen hit a clutch three-pointer to pull us to within three points.”
With less than two minutes remaining, Lake Roosevelt was again ahead by five points when Dominguez closed their lead to three points with a key put-back basket.
“Then with 25 seconds left to play in regulation, Hanson hit an acrobatic three-point shot to tie the game at 47 apiece,” Acord said. “We got the basketball back with seven seconds left, but a final shot at the buzzer just bounced off the rim and we went to overtime.”
In the overtime period, “Lake Roosevelt hit six-of-eight free throw shots and were able to just put together enough of a lead to hold us off,” Acord said.
“I’m very proud of their accomplishments over the last two seasons both on the court, including two straight league championships, a trip to the round of 16 state regionals last season, and an overall record of 15-7 this season, as well as off the court,” Acord said.
Liberty Bell vs. Lake Roosevelt
LBHS 8 13 7 19 5(OT) — 52
Lake Roosevelt 13 14 13 7 8(OT) — 55
Cesar Dominguez 14-9-4-2
Jaymis Hanson 13-5-2-4
Liam Daily 6-10-5-0
Daniel Sonnichsen 6-0-0-0
Willy Duguay 5-1-0-0
Austin Watson 4-1-1-0
Logan Szafas 2-3-2-0
Jorge Lara 2-2-1-1