Photo by Don Nelson Liberty Bell’s seniors were celebrated, along with their families, at the team’s last home game. From left, Josh Frey, Connor Cooley, Micah Klemmeck, Ben Klemmeck, Andrew Reggiatore and Chase VanderYacht.

Photo by Don Nelson

Liberty Bell’s seniors were celebrated, along with their families, at the team’s last home game. From left, Josh Frey, Connor Cooley, Micah Klemmeck, Ben Klemmeck, Andrew Reggiatore and Chase VanderYacht.

By Don Nelson

Two of its best games of the season were not quite enough to extend the Liberty Bell High School varsity boys’ basketball team’s post-season play.

In the first round of district playoffs on Feb. 10, the Mountain Lions dug themselves out of a deep hole against Warden, the No. 1 seed from the Central Washington 2B South league, and clawed their way back into the game. But Liberty Bell fell just short in a 75-70 loss.

On Saturday (Feb. 13), the Mountain Lions raced to an early double-digit lead over Lake Roosevelt, No. 2 seed in the 2B North league, but a furious fourth-quarter finish and last-second winning shot gave Lake Roosevelt the win, 76-75.

“We ended on a very disappointing note to a highly successful season,” coach Kyle Acord said of the heartbreaking loss to Lake Roosevelt.

Against Warden, the Mountain Lions fell behind by as much as 20 points, trailing 35-15 part-way through the second quarter before closing the gap to 15 at halftime.

In the second half, Liberty Bell applied full-court pressure defense and improved its shooting to fuel a comeback.

“By the last three minutes of the game, we were down by one point, and it was a very exciting and close finish with Warden making free throws during the last seconds,” Acord said.

Seniors Connor Cooley and Micah Klemmeck provided the firepower for the Mountain Lions, Cooley with 28 points and eight rebounds, and Klemmeck with 25 points, 10 rebounds and seven steals.

Against Lake Roosevelt, Liberty Bell built an early lead but the Raiders didn’t go away.

“While we were never able to pull away from them in the second or third quarters, we still had a eight-point lead entering the fourth quarter,” Acord said. “In the first few minutes, Lake Roosevelt came out with a few steals and easy buckets to cut away the lead, and the rest of the quarter was a very exciting and intense back-and-forth affair, with both teams scoring seemingly each possession,” Acord said. “Unfortunately, Lake Roosevelt had the ball last and was able to get the victory.”

Cooley and Micah Klemmeck were both saddled with foul troubles, Acord said. “I thought the rest of the team did a great job with both of them on bench in the third quarter,” he said.

Despite sitting out half of the third quarter and the final two minutes of the game because of fouls, Micah Klemmeck put up 33 points, grabbed nine rebounds and picked off six steals. Cooley added 16 points and seven rebounds. Senior Andrew Reggiatore scored 13 points and senior Ben Klemmeck scored 11 in their final game for the Mountain Lions.

“I can’t tell you how many compliments I received after both games about how hard this team played, and how fun they were to watch,” Acord said. “I am extremely proud of their hard play and their ‘never-give-up’ attitude, not only at districts, but all year long.” Liberty Bell will lose six seniors to graduation: Cooley, Micah Klemmeck, Ben Klemmeck, Reggiatore, Chase VanderYacht and Josh Frey. Cumulatively, the six seniors contributed an average of nearly 60 points per game. Cooley and Micah Klemmeck finished the year with nearly identical scoring averages.

“We will miss our seniors next season,” Acord said. “All six of them contributed mightily throughout this season. Next year, we will bring back a team with not as much experience, but with the potential to surprise a lot of people. With some hard work during the off-season, I look forward to seeing what next year’s group can accomplish.”

Warden 75, Liberty Bell 70

Liberty Bell 9 17 21 23 70

Warden 21 20 13 21 75

pts rbds stls asts

Chase VanderYacht 0 2 3 2

Ben Klemmeck 6 3 1 0

Andrew Reggiatore 7 5 1 3

Leif Portman-Bown 0 1 0 0

Connor Cooley 28 8 0 3

Micah Klemmeck 25 10 7 3

Carter Dornfeld 0 0 0 0

Josh Frey 4 5 0 2

Lake Roosevelt 76, Liberty Bell 75

Liberty Bell 20 16 18 21 75

Lake Roosevelt 8 19 19 30 76

pts rbds stls asts

Chase VanderYacht 0 5 2 2

Ben Klemmeck 11 6 4 4

Andrew Reggiatore 13 6 0 4

Leif Portman-Bown 0 2 0 0

Connor Cooley 16 7 1 1

Micah Klemmeck 33 9 6 4

Carter Dornfeld 2 3 0 0

Josh Frey 0 0 0 0

Through 22 games

gms pts avg

Micah Klemmeck 20 348 17.4

Connor Cooley 22 371 16.9

Andrew Reggiatore 20 176 8.8

Ben Klemmeck 22 187 8.5

Josh Frey 21 105 5.0

Chase VanderYacht 22 62 2.8

Carter Dornfeld 21 47 2.2

Leif Portman-Bown 21 29 1.4

Brendan Saling 2 2 1.0

Zane Herrera 8 6 0.8