Hawks get win over Coyotes


Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune

Liberty’s Logan Stephens drives to the hoop in front of Madera’s Sammy Hass to score two of his team-high 15 points in Tuesday’s 58-52 victory.

The Liberty Hawks boys basketball team worked the first quarter boards for an eight point lead and made it hold up for a 58-52 victory over the Madera Coyotes in a non-conference game in Joe Flores Gym.

The Hawks outscored Madera 17-9 in the quarter while the teams played basically even the rest of the way.

“We still have a lot of work to go,” Liberty head coach Johnny Gonzales said. “We showed a lot of heart playing against a bigger school. Madera is like our big brother. We gave it our all and came out victorious.”

“They are a good brother, little or big,” Madera head coach David Lozano said. “They can play. That coach does a great job.”

Logan Stephens led the Hawks with 15 points to go with six rebounds. Ahmarion Gaines-Smith scored 13 points with seven rebounds while eight different players scored points.

Eli Barrios led the Coyotes with 18 points to go with five rebounds.

“No. 1 (Eli Barrios) is a heck of a player,” Gonzales said.

Kecian Primes added 14 points with five rebounds. Nine different players scored for the Coyotes.

What hurt the Coyote was the difference at the free throw line. Madera was 9-of-14 (64 percent) from the line. However, Liberty took 26 free throws and made 19 (73 percent).

“It took us a while to get aggressive and try to get to the paint,” Lozano said. “It took us a while to get off our heels.”

Liberty scored nine of the first 10 points of the game for the early lead. Quaid Copher made a layup and Stephens hit a 3-pointer for the 5-0 lead. After a Sammy Hass free throw for the Coyotes, Copher made a layup and Gaines-Smith made two free throws.

Madera cut the lead to four with a Barrios layup and two free throws from Hass.

Stephens added two free throws for the Hawks, but Primes made a layup to keep the lead at six. Stephens found his brother, Carson, for a layup.

After a Primes bucket, Lani Whiteside found Michael Rivera for a layup and Stephens made two out of three free throws after getting fouled on a 3-point attempt for a 17-9 first quarter lead.

“Liberty came out on fire in the first quarter playing us tough,” Lozano said. “It kind of threw us off. We have to match that, especially at home. Credit to them.”

Two buckets from Whiteside opened a 21-9 lead after an 8-0 run. Barrios stopped the run with a layup, but Gaines-Smith hit a floater.

After a Barrios free throw, Liberty’s Johnny Levine made a driving layup for a 13-point lead. David Monge hit a 3-pointer for the Coyotes to cut Liberty’s lead to 25-15.

Stephens followed with a driving seven-footer to get the lead to 12.

Madera closed out the final three minutes of the game by scoring five straight points to cut the halftime deficit to seven.

Monge made a free throw. Barrios got a steal and converted it into a layup. Gauge Buchanan pulled down a rebound and found an open Barrios for a layup to cut the lead to 27-20.

Liberty turned the ball over on three straight first half possession to go into the locker room with a seven-point lead. Liberty turned the ball over seven times in the quarter.

“It was a tough game,” Gonzales said. “What was hurting us the most was we turned the ball over at the end. We also turned the ball over in the first half and we kept them in the game the whole time.”

Stephens extended Liberty’s lead to nine with a five-foot jumper.

Madera came back with a Primes layup from Alek Trukki and a fadeaway 12-footer from Barrios. Trukki made two free throws for a 6-0 run to cut the lead to three.

Carson Stephens made a layup and Logan Stephens went coast-to-coast for a layup after pulling down a rebound to get the lead back to seven.

Fawzet Saed made a short bucket, but Gaines-Smith answered with two free throws.

Bryson Smith scored down low off an assist from Zach Roque and Smith hit a 17-foot jumper on the next possession to get the lead down to three, again.

Liberty came back with a free throw from Whiteside and two more from Gaines-Smith. Rivera pulled down a rebound and went all the way for a layup for a short 5-0 run to open the lead to 40-32.

Roque stopped the run with a free throw with about two minutes left in the quarter. Barrios turned a steal into a layup to cut the lead to five.

Copher closed the third quarter scoring with a layup to get the lead to seven at the end of the quarter.

Barrios opened the fourth quarter scoring with a layup. After a free throw by Gaines-Smith, Madera went on a run to cut the lead to two.

Primes turned a rebound into a layup on back-to-back Liberty possessions.

Rivera stopped the run with a 3-pointer. Gaines-Smith followed on the next possession by putting back his own miss to get the lead to seven.

Primes put back a miss, but Gaines-Smith kept the lead at seven with two free throws.

Primes hit a jumper and, after a Stephens free throw, skied over a Liberty player to put back a rebound to cut the lead to four.

After two missed Liberty shots, including a made 3-pointer by Carson Stephens that was nullified by Gonzales when he called a time out, Barrios came down with a rebound.

Trukki missed a 3-pointer, but Monge put back a bucket while falling down to cut the lead to 51-49 with 1:44 left in the game.

Adam Enos drained a wide-open 3-pointer to, essentially, put the game away for the Hawks. Two possessions later, he made two free throws with 39 seconds left to open Liberty’s lead to 56-49.

“He was clutch at the end and made some free throws to help seal the deal,” Gonzales said of Enos.

Stephens made a free throw to get the lead to eight, but Barrios gave the Coyotes a chance with an off-balance 3-pointer to cut the lead to five with 14 seconds left.

However, Enos sank a free throw for a six-point lead with 11 seconds left and Madera missed its last 3-point attempt for a 58-52 final.

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