Liberty overcomes sluggish start to beat Hazen, 54-48

January 6, 2012

By Christina Lords

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Both teams look to improve in conference play

Ben Wessel, Liberty High School senior post, fouls Hazen High School junior center Cody Moorhead on the putback from a rebound during the first quarter of the Dec. 22 game. By Greg Farrar

As the Hazen High School boys team opened play against Liberty on Dec. 22, Hazen coach Ryan Thompson liked the pace his team was setting.

Led by senior guard starter Alex Olson’s eight points in the first quarter, the Highlanders were up 17-8 after the first quarter of the game.

But Liberty rallied back for a 54-48 home victory over the Highlanders, scoring 21 points in the second quarter — including nine points from junior point guard and co-captain Tynan Gilmore.

“I talked to them about playing more with their feet and doing what we do with Liberty basketball,” Liberty coach Joe Fithian said. “We’ve had a couple of games where we’ve just kind of gone into a funk. We haven’t been playing real fast, which is what you could see in the first quarter.”

The surge put the Patriots back into the game, trailing by just two points, 32-30, at the half.

Gilmore would go on to contribute 17 total points for Liberty.

“Tynan is a solid leader for this team,” he said. “When you seen him, he never gets rattled.”

Liberty junior post Matt Campbell, who tacked on 11 points for the night, has been a major contribution to the team as well, Fithian said.

“When we play hard, when we run fast, we’re a good team,” he said. “When we don’t, we’re mediocre.”

This season, Liberty has come away with just one conference win over Juanita on Dec. 9. The Patriots hope to improve on a 1-3 KingCo 3A conference record and a 5-4 record overall.

“I’m happy where we are … what I preach to my guys is do what we do,” he said. “I think we’re on our way. You saw tonight that we put in three out of four quarters of doing what we do, and it translates to a win.”

Liberty’s other wins on the season include a 44-36 victory against Mariner on Nov. 30, a 60-53 win over Black Hills on Dec. 17 and a 53-44 win over Highline Dec. 21.

Hazen senior guard Frankie Johnson and senior forward Dawit Kasa scored 14 and 12 points for the Highlanders in the contest, respectively.

Kasa is averaging 14 points, 2.2 steals and 7.6 rebounds per game.

The Highlanders have split their Seamount Conference contests 2-2, beating Lindbergh, 66-55, on Dec. 7 and beating Highline, 62-37, on Dec. 14.

Hazen’s overall record stands at 4-5, beating Mariner, 59-53, on Dec. 2 and beating Puyallup, 48-45, on Dec. 10 in nonconference play.

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