A regulation basketball game is 32 minutes long. It took every one of those 32 minutes Saturday night for the Liberty County boys to beat visiting McIntosh County Academy 56-51.
Michael Farrior exploded for 13 fourth-quarter points to help bring Liberty back from a 12-point halftime deficit. The Panthers’ Sayvon Wilson ducked inside for a jump shot with five seconds left to seal the 5-point win.
“Tonight was a good emotional win. Even down 12 points at the half we told them that if they come and play with passion they could get back in the game and win,” Liberty County coach Willie Graham said.
Both teams came out cold, missing easy shots and turning the ball over in the first quarter. Once the teams settled in, the game was a seesaw battle for the lead and Liberty led 12-11 at the end of the first period.
The Bucs took over in the second quarter allowing Liberty only four points. MCA out- rebounded Liberty and scored 10 unanswered points before Wilson broke the Liberty scoring drought on a putback with three minutes left in the second quarter.
Liberty trailed the Bucs throughout the third quarter. MCA appeared to be adding to its lead early in the fourth, but Liberty stayed resilient and never quit.
In the final two minutes, Farrior cut into the lane with an acrobatic move to make the score 50-49. Wilson, who was the inside presence for the Panthers, scored off an inside basket to tie the game at 51. Tucory Rhodes hit a jumper to put the Panthers ahead 53-51 in the final 20 seconds. Liberty collected a turnover and a Farrior free throw iced the game for the Panthers.
“We tried some different combinations tonight because we were getting beat on the boards. Sayvon played well tonight inside and helped us on the boards and with put backs,” Graham said.
Wilson was Liberty’s top scorer with a game-high 20 points. Farrior finished with 15 points. Rhodes added 12 points for Liberty.
Liberty moves to 10-3 for the season and will host Region 2A-AAAA power Brunswick on Tuesday night.
“Brunswick is going to be quick. They have some good ball handlers and have some size but try to score off cutting and dishing inside rather than a traditional post game, which can create problems. We will have to play smart and make them keep the ball in the back court more,” Graham said.
Liberty 56, MCA 51
MCA 11|17|11|12- 51
Liberty top scorers: Sayvon Wilson 20, Michael Farrior 15, Tucory Rhodes 12, Shakur Cook 5, Deantre Bacon 2, Melvin King 2