Liberty North trailed for only one possession in the second half, but the Eagles put their fans on an emotional roller coaster in their 49-43 victory over St. Joseph Lafayette on Wednesday evening in the Missouri Class 4 sectional.
By DAVID BOYCE
Special to The Star
The excitement level at Staley High School remained charged throughout as Liberty North first gave its fans a thrill by going on a 13-0 run midway through the third quarter and built a 36-25 lead.
The Fighting Irish fought back and brought their fans to their feet as they closed to 42-40 with 3 minutes left.
“It was a great experience, one of the best atmospheres I have ever played in,” said Liberty North senior Jacob Hanson. “I thought we had pretty good atmosphere last year in the Sweet 16 at Liberty, but this one was better.”
With the lead in jeopardy, Hanson stepped up with perhaps the biggest three-pointer of the season for the Eagles for a 45-40 lead.
“I think we played calm through all of that emotion,” Hanson said. “We settled down. That was a great game. They played a great game against us.”
Hanson, who finished with four, three-pointers and 15 points, played a key role in the third quarter when he scored nine of the 13 points in the run.
Those shots were available to Hanson because of the play of Liberty North junior forward Brinkley Jolly. Jolly scored all nine points for Liberty North in the first quarter. He finished with a game-high 18 points.
“That is just the way our offense is,” Hanson said. “We are going to pound it inside until they respect it. We got shooters waiting outside.”
The Eagles trailed by one after the first quarter and took a 21-18 lead into halftime. The only time Liberty North trailed the rest of the game was early in the third quarter when Lafayette’s Billy Cook hit a three-pointer, giving the Fighting Irish a 25-23 lead.
Liberty, 22-5, advances to the Missouri Class 4 quarterfinals, which will be Saturday at the Independence Events Center. The Eagles will face a familiar foe in Grandview. It will be third time the two teams have faced each other this season and the sixth time in the last two years.
Smithville girls win Class 4 sectional
Smithville built a seven-point lead in the first quarter and led the rest of the way in its 54-49 victory over Liberty North on Wednesday in the Missouri Class 4 sectional at Staley High School.
Liberty North, though, showed plenty of spunk, battling back from a 42-24 deficit midway through the third quarter and closing to 51-45 with 3 minutes left.
The game was won in the first half when the Warriors used their fast-paced approach and took a comfortable 32-19 lead into halftime.
But the first-half highlight belonged to Liberty North senior Selena Dunn, who hit a three-pointer that was beyond half court just before the buzzer.
Dunn’s offense kept Liberty North in striking distance. She made three three-pointers in the first two quarters and scored 12 of her team’s 19 points.
Smithville simply had too many sources on offense for Liberty North to keep up in the first half. Paige Imhoff and Madison Nelson combined for 17 points in the first half. Four other Warriors also scored at least two points.