Liberty County lost a close one Friday night in Richmond Hill when the Wildcats fired off a last-second shot to beat the Panthers 48-46.
“At the end of the game, we started to think about losing the game instead of winning and that isn’t Panther basketball,” Liberty County head coach Willie Graham said.
Liberty trailed Richmond Hill 46-43 in the final seconds of the match until Panther Tucory Rhodes hit a 3-pointer from the corner, tying the game at 46. The possession arrow gave the Panthers the ball at the end of the game, but Richmond Hill forced a turnover, giving the Cats a go-ahead layup for the victory.
Richmond Hill came out quick but Liberty neutralized them. After trailing by up to 8 points for much of the first quarter, Liberty County’s Shakur Cook nailed a 3-pointer as time expired to make it a 12-9 game.
The Wildcats forced the transition game and Liberty matched them with shots from the perimeter. Panther Tamontray Tucker’s 3-pointer tied the game at 21 midway through the second quarter. The speed of the game forced both teams into turnovers. Melvin King hit a pair of free throws to make it a 26-25 contest, but a Wildcat 3-pointer at the end of the half gave Richmond Hill a 29-25 lead.
“We are still taking too many shots on the perimeter. We have to do a better job of working the ball inside because those are high percentage shots and also gave us a chance for rebounds. We worked the ball in some but we have got do a better job of that in future,” Graham said.
The third quarter was a seesaw battle. Liberty tied it up a few times but the Wildcats protected the lead until the end. Liberty had a couple of players in foul trouble but, playing smartly, they made it through the game without anyone fouling out.
“The foul trouble wasn’t a problem. They simply played how they are coached to play we they have three or four fouls and are still on the floor,” Graham said.
Liberty falls to 12-3 for the season and 0-1 in region play.
RH 12 17 8 11-48
LCHS 9 16 11 10-46
Liberty top scorers: Michael Farrior 15, Melvin King 8, Tucory Rhodes 7, Sayvon Wilson 6, Shakur Cook 5, Tamontray Tucker 3
Richmond Hill top scorers: Vernon Jackson 15, Lorenzo Ross 12, D’Angleo Johnson 7, Alex Cruz 4, Brandon Jordan 4, Spencer Buck 3, Steven Williams 3