By Rob Potter
FALLSBURG January 4, 2008 A strong second quarter helped the Liberty Indians record a victory on Wednesday night.
Liberty outscored the host Fallsburg Comets 24-8 in the second period and went on to register an 80-57 win in the Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division IV basketball game.
The lead changed six times in the first period. A 17-foot jump shot by Fallsburg’s Colin Whitaker with 11 seconds remaining gave his team a 13-12 advantage at the end of those opening eight minutes of play.
But Liberty (3-4, 1-1 Division IV) opened the second quarter with a 15-4 scoring run. Junior guard Dustin Van Lieu capped the offensive surge by swishing a 3-pointer from the corner at 3:54 to give the Indians a 27-17 lead.
Van Lieu knocked down another 3-point shot with 58 seconds left in the period to give Liberty a 36-21 advantage at halftime.
But Fallsburg (3-5, 0-1 Division IV) began the third quarter with a spirited rally. Darius Buckner scored consecutive baskets in the first minute of the period and Randy Gilmore swished a pair of free throws at the 6:50 mark to shrink the Liberty lead to nine points at 36-27.
Thirty seconds later, Whitaker drilled a 3-pointer to make it a 36-30 game. Whitaker’s shot elicited one of the loudest cheers of the evening from the Fallsburg fans and caused Liberty Coach Jason Semo to call timeout in an attempt to slow down the Comets.
About 15 seconds after the timeout, Gilmore made two more foul shots to cut the Liberty lead to 36-32.
But in the final six minutes of the frame the Indians outscored the Comets, 22-8. As a result, Liberty enjoyed a more comfortable 58-40 advantage heading into the fourth period.
Liberty pushed its lead to as many as 26 points in those last eight minutes of the contest.
Van Lieu finished with a game-high 25 points. He scored nearly half of that total on four successful 3-point shots.
Dashawn Williamson netted 14 points for Liberty, while teammates Ivan Rivera and Trevor Tompkins added 14 points and eight points, respectively.
“We had a balanced team effort tonight,” Semo said. “Dustin got hot there and made some shots, but the other guys kept playing hard. Sometimes when one guy is taking a lot of shots, the other players just stand around and watch. But our guys didn’t do that, they passed the ball, got some rebounds and played good defense.”
Semo noted that rebounding was a key factor in the contest.
“We did a great job on the boards tonight,” he said. “It just wasn’t one or two players, either. Dashawn Williamson, Justen Mills, Trevor Tompkins, Connor Hinton and Ivan Rivera all did a tremendous job rebounding the ball tonight.”
The fact that the Comets rallied in the third quarter did not surprise Semo at all.
“We expected that because Fallsburg is a very good team and Darius Buckner and Randy Gilmore are tremendous players,” he said. “But my players didn’t get rattled by Fallsburg’s comeback and kept their composure.”
Buckner and Gilmore led the Comets’ offense. Bucker scored 22 points and Gilmore recorded 13 points.
Evan Moyes added nine points for Fallsburg.
“Dustin Van Lieu got hot in the second quarter,” Fallsburg Coach Pete Dworetsky said. “He hit a couple of 3-pointers and they got a couple of transition baskets and went on from there.”
Like Semo, Dworetsky noted that rebounding was very important in the contest.
“Physically, they were bigger than us,” Dworetsky said. “They were able to use that size advantage to grab a lot of rebounds. Their size and speed gives them a balanced attack.”
In addition to noting that Liberty “is a very good team,” Dworetsky praised his own team.
“My guys played hard tonight,” he said. “They worked hard and didn’t give up.”