Liberty Bell wrestlers Bodie Paul and Noah Holston extended their seasons by a couple of matches this week, participating in meets at Omak on Tuesday (June 15) and closing out the season in Tonasket on Thursday (June 17). Both Mountain Lions went undefeated for the week, Paul at 160 pounds Holston a notch up at 172 pounds.
Those wins sent the Liberty Bell duo packing for the Washington State Wrestling Association Super State Championships in Centralia. The event is not school- or WIAA-sanctioned, but invites high school-aged wrestlers from all classes in Washington to wrestle in a single-bracket, double-elimination tournament. Paul reached the quarterfinals of the championship bracket while Holston won his first match, then fell into the third-place consolation bracket after a round-two loss.
On the strength of two wins by falls, Paul advanced to the round of eight where he was pinned at 2:46 in the second round. Paul won two more in the consolation bracket, separated by a loss, and garnered the fifth-place trophy to close out a successful high school career that included three trips to the Mat Classic and two podium appearances: fifth place as a sophomore on the 152-pound division in 2019, and runner-up in 2020 at 160 pounds.
Holston defeated his first-round opponent by a 10-6 decision, but lost in the second round, 9-3, sending him to the third-place consolation bracket. He won two matches there, a fall and a 6-1 decision. Then Alex Bessonov of Vancouver defeated Holston by an 11-0 major decision victory. That loss in the round of eight was the end of the season for Holston, who looks to return in next year as an early contender to watch on the 1B/2B statewide list.
“Anybody who is anybody in Washington high school wrestling was at this meet,” said Liberty Bell assistant coach Marc Tareski. “It’s a tough field, but a place where a wrestler can really learn, grow and get a feel for what wrestling at the state tournament is like. Noah did really well, just missing a trophy. That Bodie made it that far in the championship bracket, and won the fifth-place trophy, is amazing.”
For the first time since the 2015-16 basketball season, the Mountain Lion boys put a wrap on a winning season, finishing with a record of six wins against five losses. Liberty Bell closed out the abbreviated season with a Senior Night home win over Tonasket on Tuesday (June 15), won at Entiat 72-32 on Thursday (June 17), and dropped a hard-fought battle at Oroville on Saturday (June 19), 66-62.
Nolan Falcon-George had a memorable Senior Night, leading the Mountain Lions with 16 points as they cruised to a 54-30 victory over the Tonasket Tigers. Liberty Bell jumped out to an 11-point lead at the end of the first quarter, 18-7, and outscored the Tigers 17-3 in the second period to lead at halftime, 35-10. Sophomore Sawyer Crandall added 10 points and six other Lions hit for points in the team effort.
Falcon-George again led all scorers at Entiat on Thursday, this time hitting for 26 points in the Mountain Lions’ 72-32 victory over the Tigers. Crandall contributed 12 points and six others showed great balance with individual scoring between 4 and 7 points each. The Mountain Lions were in double figures each quarter, leading 42-17 at the half and increasing their lead with each quarter.
A second trip to Oroville closed out the season for Liberty Bell, the Hornets hanging on for a narrow 66-62 victory. Once again, Falcon-George led the way with 23 points. Freshman Kyler Mitchell dropped 10 points through the nets as eight different Mountain Lions scored, including Tyler Darwood and Lucaas Gonzalez-Ortega with eight points each.
Liberty Bell went to the locker room at halftime leading 26-20, the Hornets pulling to within two at 45-43 at the end of the third quarter. The fourth quarter saw Oroville complete the comeback late in the game, hitting on most of their free throws down the stretch. The Lions had one last gasp when Falcon-George hit a three-point shot at the :55 mark to pull within two. A defensive stop coming off a timeout and layup by Gonzalez-Ortega tied the game at 62 with 13 seconds left. Oroville scored the game-winning basket on a lay-up with only a few seconds left, adding two more free throws at the end for the final margin.
“This season has been a weird one to say the least, but overall, I think it was a successful one for the guys,” said coach Kyle Acord. “Our four seniors, Dusty Patterson, Tyler Darwood, Lucaas Gonzalez-Ortega and Nolan Falcon-George, have come a long way over the last four years and I’m proud of the gains they have made.”
Indeed, a program that was winless for two straight seasons (2016-2018), and was 4-60 over the three seasons from 2016-2019, broke that trend with a winning record this year at 6-5.
“This year’s team finishes with a winning record, four of our five losses coming by five points or less,” pointed out the veteran coach. “This team would have been very competitive in tournament competition given the opportunity.”
Acord extended credit to parents and fans, who were limited in attending games this year under COVID-19 state protocols.
The Mountain Lions closed out their season at Oroville with a 71-33 win, running their season record to 10-1. The girls finished on an eight-game winning streak that included a tight Senior Night tussle with the Tonasket Tigers, and a 35-point win at Entiat, 56-21.
Senior Night at Liberty Bell saw the Mountain Lions in their toughest battle since their early one-point loss to Lake Roosevelt as they nipped the Tigers of Tonasket by three points, 48-45. Senior Sammy Curtis led scorers with 15 points. Junior Jadyn Mitchell was the only other Lion in double figures with 13. Mitchell was a power on the boards, though, nabbing a season-high 24 rebounds. Shae Taylor reached double figures, pulling down 10 rebounds.
It was on to Entiat for a Thursday night date with the Tigers, and a relatively easy 56-21 victory. Mitchell and Curtis topped the scoring with 18 points each, the former continuing her streak of double-doubles on points and rebounds, collecting 12 boards. Caitlyn Cooley added 11 points and Madi Surface scored 10, while coming up with 7 steals defensively.
The Mountain Lions closed out the 2021 season with a 71-33 win at Oroville on Saturday night. Cooley torched the Hornet’s Nest with a game-high 25-point effort and added 11 rebounds. She also tallied 5 steals defensively. Mitchell and Curtis scored 19 points each, the former extending her string of double-double games to 11 with 12 rebounds. She also had five steals. Ruby McCarthy battled for 8 rebounds and added 4 points to the scoreboard.
While the core of players left behind by the class of ’21 is a solid team, coach Stephanie Mitchell says this year’s seniors will definitely be missed.
“We are losing some good players,” she said. “Madi Surface is an excellent defensive player and Sammy’s ability to score will be missed.” Curtis averaged about 12.5 points per game, second behind Mitchell’s 17.1 average. Mitchell also averaged 16.1 rebounds per game.
By the numbers
Falcon-George led the boys in scoring this year, hitting for 150 points, and as is reflective of many games this year, the next four on the list are mere points apart: Tyler Darwood and Dusty Patterson each tallied 70 points, Isaiah Stoothoff scored 68 and Sawyer Crandall hit for 67.
Mitchell led the girls at 189 points, followed by Curtis with 138, Cooley with 102 and Surface with 100. Mitchell earned triple-double numbers twice.
Recently graduated Liberty Bell senior Wyatt Albright and accomplice (now senior) Jori Grialou were featured in an Okanogan County Public Health COVID-19 clinic vaccination video that had hit social media a few weeks ago. A clip from that video, featuring Albright’s vaccination soliloquy, has now hit the big time, appearing several times on this past weekend’s NBC coverage of the Men’s U.S. Open golf championship and their Sunday evening broadcast of the U.S. Olympic track and field trials from Eugene, Oregon.
Speaking of media appearances: First year Mountain Lion Boys’ soccer coach David Marz was heard working the “board” at Chelan’s KOZI FM on Saturday morning. He was introduced Saturday by Radio Lake Chelan’s normal weekend voice, Ken Johannessen, as the new relief person. Apparently, besides teaching and coaching, the ease with which he negotiated copy, music and an impromptu on-air interview with Johannssen indicated that Marz has some radio in his background. “It has been 15 years since I last, officially, cracked a mic,” relayed Marz via email. “I enjoyed the audition, now we’ll see what develops.”
Some things in life are just larger than the game.
At Brewster on Saturday, an emotional Senior Night basketball remembrance to Cade Gebbers, the Bears’ senior guard who died tragically earlier this year, opened play in the boys’ game with Cashmere.
The Bears sent only four players onto the floor for the opening jump ball, leaving room at the circle for the eldest of the three Gebbers varsity basketball brothers. When referee Bob Lloyd tossed the ball for the tipoff, Cashmere, their uniforms adorned with the initials CG and the number 4 to honor their fallen opponent, yielded to Brewster. The ball was then placed on the floor in the Bears’ backcourt while players and the crowd stood and paid tribute first with silence, then erupting into applause as the 10-second count wore on.
Lloyd’s whistle sounded the end of the brief, yet poignant and eloquent tribute, Brewster added their fifth player and the game, as if a metaphor for life, resumed. Cade’s brothers, junior Kelcen and freshman Cort, were both regular starters for the Bears this season.