Liberty County needed overtime to beat Beach the first time the two teams met. The Bulldogs returned the favor without the need for an extra period Saturday, holding off visiting Liberty County 47-45.
"We got beat on the boards and that didn’t help us," Liberty County coach Willie Graham said. "I also think that we played a little flat at times. We were thin tonight because we were missing two important players and we knew that going in. You just have to play with what you have available at the time."
From the outset it was clear the game would be a close one. The Panthers led 9-8 at the end of the first quarter, but Beach took a 14-12 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Liberty County tied the game seconds into the third period and a Michael Farrior layup after a steal by Tucory Rhodes put the Panthers up 19-16.
Neither team could keep momentum for long.
Down by three points, Liberty’s Tamontray Tucker hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key at the end of the third period to tie the game 25-25. Tucker hit another 3-pointer at the beginning of the fourth to give Liberty a 28-25 lead.
Beach retook the lead and held it until Rhodes scored on a lay up, drew a foul and made his free throw to knot the game 38-38.
Beach took a 42-40 lead late, forcing the Panthers to foul. The Bulldogs hit five-of-six free throws in the final 40 seconds to notch the win, despite a last-second 3-pointer from Shakur Cook.
Liberty had three players finish in double figures. Farrior had 15 points. Cook and Tucker added 10 points each.
The Panthers drop to 6-2 on the year and with Christmas break approaching begin getting ready for the Gentlemen’s Classic in Statesboro from Dec. 27-29.
"We haven’t seen a bracket yet so we don’t know who we will play. Based on the field though it should give us a chance to play some good games," Graham said.
Beach 47, Liberty 45
Beach 8|6|11|22 - 47
Liberty 9|3|13|20 - 45
Liberty - Michael Farrior 15, Shakur Cook 10, Tamontray Tucker 10, Melvin King 7, Tucory Rhodes 3.