Liberty boys basketball team fall to rival from Renton, 50-44

December 4, 2012

By Christina Corrales-Toy

Liberty High School’s Robbie Thomas is fouled by a Hazen High School defender as he goes for the basket in the fourth quarter of the Dec. 1 nonleague game. Hazen defeated Liberty, 50-44. By Christina Corrales-Toy

New Patriots coach hopes to bring ‘spark’ to program

Only 3 miles, or less than 10 minutes, separate Liberty and Hazen high schools.

So it was a short drive for the Patriot boys basketball team, which traveled to Hazen to take on the Highlanders on Dec. 1.

It may have been a nonleague game, but it had all the intensity of a playoff match, as the Renton rivals battled it out.
Liberty won the rivalry game last year, but this year, Hazen held off a second-half surge by the Patriots to win, 50-44.

Liberty’s first-year coach Omar Parker said he was pleased with his team’s determination, especially in the second half, despite the loss.

“You know this is their kind of battle on the hill, the king-of-the-hill game, and so I think it brought something out of our guys to really compete, and I was proud of them,” Parker said.

Hazen got off to a quick start, outscoring the Patriots 14-8 after the first quarter. The deficit widened before halftime, with the Highlanders leading Liberty, 28-20.

But the Patriots refused to go down easily, putting together an inspired second half in which Liberty actually outscored Hazen 24-22.

With just less than two minutes to go in the fourth quarter, Liberty tied the game at 44. But the Patriots were never quite able to capture the lead and in the waning seconds of the game, the Highlanders pulled away.

Still, Parker said he was proud of the team’s play, in particular Matthew Campbell, who led Liberty scorers with 15 points.

“I think that Matt Campbell did a great job on the boards,” Parker said. “I thought our guys just played super hard.”

In Parker’s first year at the helm, he said he hopes to implement a sort of “revival” of the Liberty basketball program. It starts by instituting a strong relationship between the youth and high school programs, creating a continuity and camaraderie between the teams, Parker said.

Up next

Liberty vs. Juanita

  • 8 p.m. Dec. 7
  • Liberty High School gymnasium, 16655 S.E. 136th St.

“I think Liberty, in some ways, was a bunch of flammable material that needed a little spark and I feel that we’re building it up,” he said.

Parker has a very experienced team to work with this year, with nine of his team’s 14 players being seniors.

“The difference between a sophomore and junior in high school and a senior is a pretty big leap, and this group of seniors has shown great leadership,” he said.

Look for seniors Robbie Thomas, Timothy Phan, Tynan Gilmore, Dalton O’Brien and Matthew Campbell to play key leadership roles for this year’s team, Parker said.

“I’m looking to them for leadership,” he said. “You know, I’m looking for those guys to lead us through adversity and take us through the woods at times when it looks a little dark.”

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