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Rob Potter | Democrat

Liberty’s Brandon Tompkins (21) tries to block a shot by S.S. Seward’s David Oliver during Saturday night’s championship game of the first annual Liberty High School New Year’s Basketball Tournament. Among the players looking on are Seward’s Taylor Steele (20) and Liberty’s Herman Drayton (standing behind Steele) and Calvin Henry, right.

S.S. Seward defeats Indians, 50-45, to win New Year’s tourney

By Rob Potter
LIBERTY — January 12, 2010 — The S.S. Seward Spartans won the first annual Liberty High School New Year’s Basketball Tournament on Saturday night by edging the host Liberty Indians, 50-45.
In the consolation game preceding the title contest, the Monticello Panthers defeated the Livingston Manor Wildcats, 66-54.
The championship game was knotted at 11-11 at the end of the first quarter, but Seward (7-0) outscored Liberty by a 16-10 margin in the second period. Justin Sinisi made a pair of 3-point shots in the first three-plus minutes of the quarter to help the Spartans take a 17-13 lead.
David Oliver scored a traditional three-point play and Scott Glowaczewski made a shot from beyond the arc to give Seward a 23-13 lead with 3:23 to go until halftime.
With 5:54 remaining in the third quarter, Liberty (3-5) closed to within a basket at 29-27 as Chris Soto made a 3-point shot.
However, Seward again extended its lead to double digits in the fourth period.
Displaying the competitiveness and determination shown by all of the Indians throughout the contest, Liberty’s Herman Drayton made a 3-point shot in the last second of the game.
Oliver, who was named the tournament MVP, led the Spartans with 14 points. He went 8-of-9 at the free throw line.
Sinisi finished with 11 points, while Rob Gorski had eight points and Glowaczewski and Taylor Steele, who was chosen for the all-tournament team, added seven points apiece.
Seward Coach Rob Gravelle, who noted that he and Liberty Coach Jason Semo are great friends, was happy with his team’s performance. He especially praised Oliver for his scoring and rebounding throughout the game.
“This was a great tournament, especially for it being the first annual one,” Gravelle said. “I guarantee we’ll be coming back here for the next few years.”
Drayton, who was named to the all-tournament team, paced Liberty with 13 points, while Eddie Byrd had 11 points and Soto recorded nine points.
Semo was happy with his entire team and its performance.
“I am proud of all of our guys, not only for the basketball players they are, but also for the outstanding young men they are becoming,” he said.
Semo also noted that the tournament featured four good basketball teams who played very well.
Monticello takes third place
Monticello (4-4) took a 19-4 lead in the first quarter on its way to defeating Livingston Manor.
The Panthers held a 33-22 advantage at halftime, but the Wildcats steadily cut into that lead as the second half progressed. With 2:47 left in the fourth period, Troy Correa scored a layup to make it a 57-51 game.
But Monticello’s Kenny Sanders scored eight points in the last two minutes to help his team record the victory.
Sanders led the Panthers with 24 points, while teammate Jesse Kapito, who was chosen for the all-tournament team, netted 20 points. Fifteen of Kapito’s points were on successful shots from beyond the 3-point arc.
Juan Pena added nine points for Monticello.
“Kenny Sanders is becoming a very good player for us,” Monticello Coach Chris Russo said. “He’s a great athlete.
“This was a good win for us,” Russo added.
Correa, who was the Wildcats’ representative on the all-tournament team, scored a game-high 27 points. Brandon Smith and Troy Edwards added 11 points and five points, respectively, for Manor (2-6).
Manor Coach Charlie Hicks noted that his players might have been feeling the effects of playing four games in five days.
“But I’m very happy with the way we responded after the first quarter and played hard for the whole game,” he said.

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