By Lori Brown
LIBERTY The Liberty Indians hosted the Marlboro Dukes last Tuesday evening in non-league basketball game.
Members of the crowd were on the edge of their seats as Marlboro recorded a 63-53 win.
Liberty (2-3) jumped ahead early, but was unable to retain the lead as the game continued due to Marlboro’s good rebounding and defense.
The Indians took a 14-8 lead in the first period on the strength of four 3-point shots.
Marlboro (5-1) had a great second quarter, scoring 22 points to take the lead. Maxx Faircloth scored nine points and Ben Cary netted seven points in those eight minutes of play to help the Dukes gain the advantage on the scoreboard.
Marlboro’s Danny McElrath scored to put his team ahead with 2:48 left in the half.
In the last second of the quarter, Cary swished a shot to give the Dukes a 30-27 lead at halftime.
At the beginning of the third quarter, Liberty’s Danny Anderson scored and was fouled. He made his free throw to even the score at 30-30.
Both teams played hard during the quarter as the lead went back and forth. In the last three minutes, however, Marlboro pulled ahead and held a 45-40 advantage going into the fourth quarter.
With just under six minutes remaining in the contest, the Dukes went on an 8-0 scoring run to take a 53-44 advantage.
The Indians cut the Marlboro lead to 57-53 with two minutes remaining.
But in the final minute, the Dukes converted all six of their foul shots to ensure the victory.
Faircloth led Marlboro with a game-high 24 points, while McElrath added 11 points. Faircloth also made three steals on defense.
“Maxx Faircloth played well tonight,” Marlboro Coach Mike Koehler said. “They came out and shot the ball well, but our defense is what won the game for us.”
“We had a lot of fun, it was a hard game,” he added. “But we like playing these games; we showed character
“Danny McElrath did great tonight and was the turning point in tonight’s game,” Koehler said.
The next game for Marlboro, which was listed as one of the Honorable Mention Class B teams in the New York State Sportswriters Association boys’ basketball poll released on Dec. 20, is a Mid-Hudson Athletic League (MHAL) contest versus Red Hook on Tuesday, Jan. 5.
Leading the Liberty offense were Herman Drayton and Chris Soto, who had 14 points and 11 points, respectively. Drayton also recorded eight rebounds and Soto had five rebounds.
Mike McLean registered six rebounds for the Indians.
“What a great game, a very evenly matched game,” Liberty Coach Jason Semo said.
“My 13 guys practiced hard to be a part of this game,” he continued. “Marlboro is a well-coached and a much disciplined team. Mike Koehler does a nice job. We knew we had to be ready for them, as they are a Class B team.”
As for his players, Semo said that he was “proud of them.
“All around we had good team effort and balance,” he said. “Danny Anderson, Chris Soto and Eddie Byrd did a great job. Brandon Tompkins and Mike McLean rebounded good tonight, as they [Marlboro] definitely outsized us.”
Liberty is scheduled to return to the court on Tuesday, Jan. 5. At 7 p.m., the Indians will host the James I. O’Neill Raiders in an Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division IV game.