Photo by Don Nelson
Libert Bell’s Carson Gunnip-Hunter drove to the basket against Bridgeport as Deken Smith, No. 1, readied for a potential rebound.

By Don Nelson

Liberty High School boys’ basketball coach Kyle Acord has been hoping that his team would find the consistency to put together four good quarters of play in a single game.

The Mountain Lions did just that on Saturday (Jan. 6) against visiting Bridgeport. They played their best game of the year, racked up their highest point total and had three scorers in double-figures.

That was enough to earn Liberty Bell a 51 – 51 tie at the end of four quarters. But the Mustangs pulled away in the 5-minute overtime for a 62 – 55 win.

The closely fought game had been tied 25 – 25 at halftime, and Liberty Bell was up by two, 38 – 36, after three quarters, thanks to a timely three-point bucket by Liberty Bell junior Brayden White.

Liberty Bell actually built an 8-point lead in the fourth quarter, 46 – 38, but Bridgeport rallied as the Mountain Lions’ shots refused to fall. The Mustangs pulled ahead by 51 – 48 with just over a minute to play.

On their next trip down the court, Liberty Bell senior Cash McClane drove to the basket and was fouled. He made both free throws to bring the Mountain Lions within one at 51 – 50, with 55 seconds remaining in regular time.

Liberty Bell got the ball back and McClane again slashed to the basket and was again fouled. He missed the first free throw but made the second, knotting things up at 51. Bridgeport missed its final shot and the game continued into overtime, with a raucous home crowd cheering the Mountain Lions on. But Liberty Bell couldn’t maintain its momentum in the final 5 minutes.

Junior Peter Aspholm led Liberty Bell’s scoring with 15 points, followed by McClane with 13 and senior Carson Gunnip-Hunter with 11. Freshman Deken Smith was active in scoring 7 points.

Aspholm and Gunn-Hunter were both dominant on the boards. Aspholm pulled down 15 rebounds, and Gunnip-Hunter added 14, so each had a double-double in the stats sheet.

Earlier in the week, the Mountain Lions dropped two road games at Manson and Tonasket. At Manson on Jan. 2, Liberty Bell outscored the Trojans in the second half, but couldn’t make up for a slow start and lost, 39 – 24. Aspholm scored 14 points to lead the Mountain Lions and added 8 rebounds. Gunnip-Hunter also had 8 boards.

Tonasket jumped to a 40 – 9 halftime lead on the way to a 64 – 23 victory over Liberty Bell on Jan. 4. Gunnip-Hunter scored 10 points and picked off 8 rebounds to lead the Mountain Lions.

The Mountain Lions now are 0 – 12 on the season. Next up is a home game against Manson on Thurday (Jan. 11) with tipoff at 7:30 p.m. They travel to Waterville-Mansfield, playing at Mansfield High School, on Saturday (Jan. 13), then host Roosevelt on Tuesday (Jan. 16), starting at 7:30 p.m.

STATISTICS
Manson 39, Liberty Bell 24

Liberty Bell 2 7 11 4 24

Manson 10 15 7 7 39

pts rbs stls assts

Deken Smith 0 1 0 0

Owen Hevly 3 6 2 2

Brayden White 0 3 0 0

Carson Gunnip-Hunter 2 8 0 0

Jude Klemmeck 2 0 3 0

Peter Aspholm 14 8 0 1

Lucaas Gonzales-Ortega 3 2 0 0

Simon Studen 0 6 3 0

Bo Hughes 0 0 0 0

Manson JV 59, Liberty Bell JV 35

Lucaas Gonzales-Orega 9, Deken Smith 8, Alex Whites 8, Nolan Falcon-George 3, Logan Hall 2, Tyler Darwood 2, Tommy Knox 1.

Tonasket 64, Liberty Bell 23

Liberty Bell 4 5 2 12 23

Tonasket 16 24 12 12 64

pts rbs stls assts

Deken Smith 5 3 0 0

Owen Hevly 0 3 3 1

Brayden White 0 0 0 0

Carson Gunnip-Hunter 10 8 0 1

Jude Klemmeck 4 1 0 0

Peter Apholm 2 2 1 0

Lucaas Gonzales-Ortega 0 2 0 1

Cash McClane 0 0 0 0

Simon Studen 2 2 1 0

Bo Hughes 0 1 0 0

Tonasket JV 66, Liberty Bell JV 27

Deken Smith 13, Tyler Darwood 6, Alex Whites 3, Nolan Falcon-George 3, Lucaas Gonzales-Ortega 2

Bridgeport 62, Liberty Bell 55

Bridgeport 12 13 11 15 11 62

Liberty Bell 15 10 13 13 4 55

pts rbs stls assts

Deken Smith 7 2 0 1

Owen Hevly 0 5 2 4

Brayden White 5 4 1 2

Carson Gunnip-Hunter 11 14 1 1

Peter Aspholm 15 15 2 3

Lucaas Gonzales-Ortega 0 1 0 0

Cash McClane 13 1 2 3

Simon Studen 4 4 0 1

Liberty Bell JV 44, Bridgeport JV 41

Deken Smith 10, Lucaas Gonzales-Ortega 10, Alex Whites 8, Nolan Falcon-George 5, Tyler Darwood 5, Dusty Patterson 4, Tommy Knox 2.

Leading scorers through 12 games (total points): Simon Studen 74, Carson Gunnip-Hunter 73, Peter Aspholm 66, Cash McClane 45, Owen Hevly 27, Jude Klemmeck 22, Deken Smith 17, Brayden White 15, Lucaas Gonzales-Ortega 12, Bo Hughes 2.