Liberty Patriots sweep rival Lake Washington Kangs
January 8, 2013
By Christina Corrales-Toy
Students returned to school after winter break on Jan. 2, but coach Omar Parker’s Liberty boys basketball team didn’t see much of a layoff during the two-week respite.
In fact, the Patriots practiced on Christmas Eve and played in a tournament in Salem, Ore., just three days later.
“We practiced long and hard over the entire break,” Parker said.
The hard work definitely paid off for the Patriots, who soundly defeated Lake Washington, 64-44, in a Jan. 4 contest.
The Patriots shot out of the gate quickly on the way to an 18-10 lead after the first quarter. Liberty went on to extend the lead by one, heading into halftime, leading, 29-20.
The beginning of the second half, however, was a different story, as Lake Washington emerged from the locker room with what appeared to be a new sense of urgency. Just three minutes into the half, the Kangs cut Liberty’s lead to just one point.
At that point, the Liberty coach called a timeout to refocus the team.
“In the timeout, coach just said to make sure we talk on defense. We just focused back up and we got back to the fundamentals which we’ve been doing all year,” said senior Matthew Campbell, who led the team with 19 points.
After the timeout, the Patriots held Lake Washington scoreless for nearly eight minutes, effectively allowing Liberty to put the game away.
“Coach wanted us to really step on their throat and take this game away from them, not let them back in, and I think we feel like we played well,” said senior Robbie Thomas, who had 18 points.
Liberty captured the win behind big scoring performances from both Thomas and Campbell, but it was senior leader Tynan Gilmore who made many of the baskets possible as he dished assist after assist.
“Tynan is the heart of the team,” Thomas said. “He makes those little passes; he gets us all those open looks and our offense really goes through him.”
Campbell agreed, adding that Gilmore was a key factor that led to his 19 points.
“Tynan is a really good point guard, one of the best in the league in my opinion, and the reason why I had such a good night was because he passed me the ball down low,” he said.
Liberty at Sammamish
The Liberty coach said he was particularly proud of the team’s defensive effort, especially the eight-minute stretch holding Lake Washington scoreless.
“Our identity has been defense,” Parker said. “No matter what’s happening on the offensive end, we’ve really said that we can give maximum effort on the defensive end and be committed to each other down there.”
Parker couldn’t name one standout player after the team’s complete effort, but he was particularly impressed with the play of his seniors and their leadership, he said.
“We’ve been talking about playing together and playing for each other and playing harder than our opponent and I think for one of the first times, we really did that tonight,” he said.
Liberty girls beat Lake Washington, too
The Liberty girls also captured a win against Lake Washington, defeating the Kangs, 45-38.
Senior Delane Agnew and junior Tara Johnson led the team in scoring with nine points each.
Liberty finished the first quarter down just one point to the Kangs, but stayed tough behind a strong defense through the game.
The Patriots held Lake Washington to just five and six points in the second and third quarters, respectively.