Hawks ride big first quarter
The Liberty Hawks boys basketball team dismantled visiting Sierra-Tollhouse Chieftains after dominating the first quarter 23-6 in a 69-47 Div. V playoff win.
“It was a great start and we started off really quick,” Liberty head coach Johnny Gonzales said. “It was 28-6, things were going smooth and Markie’s (Brandt) shots were falling and everything was looking up. We ran our offense well and our ball movement was key.”
Led by Markie Brandt’s 10 first quarter points on Feb. 22, the eighth-seeded Hawks were able to shoot their way past ninth-seeded Sierra for a first round playoff win.
“He did a great job tonight,” Gonzales said. “He’s a team leader and we expect that from him.” Brandt scored 26 for the Hawks and Roy Afonin added 20.
The visiting Chieftains were no match for the Hawks after they struggled to match the scoring of the home team.
Afonin showcased his shooting ability after he connected on three long range shots in the first half. He helped open the game on a 10-2 run.
Cole Remner added to his team’s lead after an easy layup pushed the team on a 13-2 run.
Brandt led the team in the quarter scoring 10 points along with providing defensive help. The Hawks ended the quarter leading by 17 points.
The second quarter started off with Brandt attacking the basket again for the easy two points. Brandt scored again shortly after to push the lead to 21.
Moises Cervantes entered the game and quickly made a difference. He hit two long distance shots while also taking a charge on defense. The Hawks ended the quarter on a 7-0 run after Afonin connected on his last triple of the half.
Brandt opened the second half on a tear after he scored an easy layup in the paint then followed up from a long distance 3-pointer. The Hawks went on a 7-0 run to open the quarter.
The Hawks pulled their starters halfway through the third but regretted it when the Chieftains went on a 6-0 run to end the quarter.
The Chieftains capitalized on good matchups and cut the lead in half with six minutes remaining. The starters for the Hawks came back into the game and were able to snuff out the rally attempt.
Wyatt Johnson ended the visitors run with an easy finish in the paint. With three minutes remaining, the Hawks capitalized on consecutive Chieftain turnovers to end the game leading by 11 points. The Hawks closed out the game on an 8-0 run to win 69-47.
However, in the quarterfinals on Friday, the Hawks couldn’t match the up-and-down game of top-seeded California City and lost a shootout 101-91.
Brandt led the team with 25 points. Cervantes added 21 and Afonin added 19 in one of the highest scoring games in Liberty’s history.
Johnson added 10 points in the loss.