By Lori Brown
LIBERTY When it’s all said and done, Liberty may be one of two teams to actually have held an eight-point lead over powerhouse John S. Burke this season.
The Indians’ 8-0 advantage in the first quarter didn’t hold up though as the defending state champions simply outmanned Liberty in a convincing 87-47 Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division IV basketball victory.
Burke (8-1, 3-0, Div. IV) is the No. 2 ranked Class B boys’ basketball team in the state and appears headed to Glens Falls again. Its only loss came to New Jersey power Don Bosco in one of several non-league games the Eagles are playing against top metropolitan and state teams.
“Burke has a very good basketball team, said Liberty coach Mike Salvia. This is the best team that we play all season.
“They bring more people off the bench and they have speed,” Salvia continued “They hit shots offensively and play great halfcourt defense. Their pressure got to us tonight.”
Still, Salvia seemed to take some kind of solace in the Indian’s first quarter effort.
“Burke had a 20-10 lead and we had an 8-0 run at the beginning of the game,” Salvia said. “We played evenly the rest of the [first] quarter.
After taking Liberty’s initial punch, Burke methodically ran its offense and poured in three-pointers at will. For the game, they connected on 11 shots from beyond the arc.
“I thought we jumped out good and caused some turnovers,” Burke Coach Doug Janeczko said. “Liberty had an 8-0 early advantage on us. We have pretty good shooters. Billy Garneau played pretty well and Stan Buczek played good and they were finding him inside.
“Overall we had a good team effort and played good defense,” Janeczko added. “We played unselfish tonight.”
Liberty’s Eddie Byrd scored six points during the Indians’ 8-0 burst to start the game. He finished with a game-high 19 points, “tough” points according to Salvia.
In the second period, Byrd netted seven points and teammate Taylor Van Keuren added four points as the Indians played the Eagles relatively even. Burke outscored Liberty 16-13 in the quarter to hold a 36-23 lead at halftime.
In the second half, Burke showed its form, outscoring Liberty 51-24. The Eagles tight, double-teaming defense caused many turnovers which were converted into easy baskets.
“We have a lot of work to do, for the rest of the sesaon to go well,” summarized Salvia.
All 12 players for Burke scored led by Billy Garneau’s 17 points and Zach Rufer’s 15 (12 from three-point land). Rufer also recorded eight assists, five steals and five rebounds.
Liberty will return to the court tomorrow night by hosting Chapel Field in a non-league game. On Monday night, the Indians will host S.S. Seward in another non-league contest.