Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Liberty’s Andrew Castaneda goes up for two of his game-high 22 points with Faith Christian’s Mason Ramsey defending.
The Liberty Hawks boys basketball team prepared for its Hawks Classic basketball tournament with a non-conference win over Fowler and then routed Faith Christian-Coalinga in the opening game of the tournament.
The Hawks used a third quarter surge to turn a four-point halftime lead into a 14-point victory over the Redcats on Tuesday.
“We looked pretty good in the first quarter,” head coach Johnnie Gonzales said. “We have to cut down on our turnovers. Markie (Brandt) and Roy (Afonin) did a great job tonight. That’s been like that all season where one would lead one night and the other lead the next. What’s good is that Markie is able to get a lot of rebounds.”
The Hawks followed that up with a 74-17 victory over the outmanned Faith Christian Warriors team in the Hawks Classic.
Against the Redcats, the Hawks jumped out to an early 24-16 before the Redcats cut the lead to four at the half.
Brandt scored 11 of his game-high 24 points in the first half. Afonin hit three 3-pointers for 10 first half points of his 19 total points. Moises Cervantes added nine points.
Brandt remained hot and scored 10 of his 13 second half points in the third quarter to extend the lead.
“At the half, it seemed like we were tired so we had to get out of our press,” Gonzales said. “The press wasn’t good enough and they were breaking it. We had to adjust and we had to get out of the press. We are only about eight deep, but the guys that did come out did a great job.”
The Hawks took an 11 point lead in the second half after a Brandt jumper, but the Redcats outscored the Hawks 9-2 to close out the half trailing 35-31.
Liberty opened the second half with a 10-2 run, started by a Brandt 15-foot jumper. Cervantes followed with a 10 footer and Afonin got free with a spin move and hit a seven-footer after a Fowler layup. Afonin finished the run with a 12-foot jumper for a 45-33 lead.
Fowler answered with back-to-back layups, but Brandt came back with back-to-back 3-pointers to open the lead to 14 and head into the third quarter with a 51-38 lead after a Fowler free throw.
Fowler opened the fourth quarter with a bucket, but Afonin extended Liberty’s lead to 16 with a diving bucket and a 3-point play layup off an assist from Dennis Monastyrsky. The Redcats scored twice before Cervantes hit a jumper.
The Hawks put the game away with a Monastyrsky bucket off a rebound and a Brandt 3-pointer for a 63-46 lead with about two minutes left in the game.
Despite the Hawks turning the ball over three times in the final 1:30, Fowler only scored three points for the 63-49 final.
“At the end, we were making bad choices and bad passes,” Gonzales said. “We had to call time out to tell them that we were up and not the one behind.”
The Hawks opened the 11th annual Hawks Classic with a dominating victory over the outmanned Warriors. While the Warriors came into the game with just eight players, Liberty had 11 players score, including Andrew Castaneda scoring a game-high and career-high 22 points.
The Hawks opened the game by forcing 13 Faith Christian turnovers before the Warriors could get on the scoreboard.
Afonin started the scoring with a layup and Brandt hit a 3-pointer. Cole Remner scored down low and Afonin found Brandt for a layup.
Afonin followed with two free throws and Brandt went coast-to-coast with a defensive rebound and layup for a 13-0 lead.
After five missed shots, Monastyrsky made a layup off an Afonin assist and Luke Perkins hit the first of his four 3-pointers. Nate Samarin hit a jumper for a 20-0 lead with about 2:30 left in the first quarter. Samarin added a free throw and Perkins hit another 3-pointer to open the lead to 24-0.
Faith Christian hit a 3-pointer with about two minutes left in the first quarter to get on the scoreboard.
From there, the Hawks scored the next 13 points, starting with a Castaneda layup and two free throws. Perkins hit another 3-pointer and Wyatt Roth made two free throws and put back an offensive rebound for a 35-3 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Castaneda opened the second quarter with a layup and Faith Christian hit a 3-pointer.
After Liberty missed nine shots, Faith Christian got a layup and a free throw for a 39-9 Liberty lead.
Brandt found Remner underneath for a short bucket and the Warriors made a running jumper.
The Hawks closed out the first half with a Remner layup and another Perkins 3-pointer for a 46-11 halftime lead.
Afonin opened the second half with a steal and layup. He added a free throw and his 10-foot jumper invoked the running clock for the rest of the game because the Hawks led by more than 40 points, 52-11.
Castaneda made two layups before a Faith Christian layup and free throw for a 56-14 lead at the end of the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Castaneda looked like he was running a layup drill. He scored 12 of Liberty’s 18 points in the quarter on six layups. The Hawks also got buckets from Samarin, Dorian Stratakis and Sinna Mahjoob for the 74-17 victory.
Liberty played Dos Palos on Friday in the semifinals. A win Friday moves them into the championship game at 2:30 p.m. today and a loss puts them in the third place game at 1 p.m. today.