Liberty picks up big win over Stallions
Wendy Alexander/The Madera Trbune Madera South’s Julian Galvan drives to the basket during Friday’s loss to the Edison Tigers. He scored six points in the loss.
The Liberty Hawks boys basketball team took advantage of Madera South’s lack of inside scoring in a 49-44 non-conference victory at Madera South.
The Hawks outscored the Stallions 19-9 in the second quarter and hung on for an important victory Saturday evening.
“This was a good game for us,” Liberty head coach Johnny Gonzales said. “Madera South, with the conference they are in, it’s a good win for us and our program. Everything is starting to look up. Playing a team like Madera South will help us later on down the line.”
For Madera South head coach Jody Sharp, it was a frustrating loss that could have been a win.
“The bottom line was we did what we wanted to do defensively,” he said. “We didn’t have enough offense. We didn’t score like we should have. We missed a ton of shots around the rim. We didn’t make free throws. We did not finish around the basket. If you don’t finish, you have to be strong enough to get fouled. All season, it’s our inability to finish around the rim.”
Liberty standout Makani Whiteside led all scorers with 21 points to go with 14 rebounds. He hit four 3-pointers, including three during the second quarter. Logan Stephens scored 11 points with three 3-pointers.
Andre Johnson led the Stallions with 13 points to go with six rebounds. Cousins Joel and Julian Galvan combined for 15 points and 16 rebounds, including 11 on the offensive glass.
However, both coaches were upset with the officiating in the non-conference game.
“This game was brutal,” Gonzales said. “It was a hard-fought win. The officiating was tough tonight.”
“Officiating was terrible,” Sharp said. “That didn’t help. There was times where a foul occurred and the whistle didn’t blow. The bottom line, at the other end, when we are getting hit, we aren’t getting the whistle.”
Jayshawn Thomas started the scoring with a layup for the Stallions. After Stephens hit a 3-pointer, Joel Galvan found Julian Galvan for a layup. Johnson hit a 3-pointer and the Stallions led 7-3.
Whiteside hit a 17-foot jumper and Nathanael Samarin converted a 3-point play to give the Hawks an 8-7 lead.
On the next possession, Jonbree Neal hit a 3-pointer for a 10-8 Stallions’ lead.
Stephens hit a 3-pointer and Gary Afonin drove in for a layup for a 13-10 Liberty lead.
Neal hit a pull-up 15-footer and Julian Galvan found Johnson for a layup and a 14-13 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Jose Villafan hit a short jumper and Johnson made a 3-pointer for a 19-13 Madera South lead.
The Hawks found their long-distance stroke. Of the seven field goals Liberty made in the second quarter, six were 3-pointers.
Quaid Copher started the barrage to cut the Stallions’ lead to three. After a Joel Galvan layup, Stephens hit another 3-pointer to cut the Madera South lead to two.
Whiteside made a free throw to cut the lead to one. Two possessions later, Adam Enos hit a 3-pointer. Whiteside made back-to-back 3-pointers. He added another with less than a minute left in the half for a 16-0 run and a 32-21 lead.
Neal hit two free throws before the end of the half for a 32-23 Hawks’ halftime lead.
Stephens opened the second half with a 15-foot jumper.
Johnson followed with a 3-pointer and found Julian Galvan for a layup to cut Liberty’s lead to six.
Copher put back a Samarin miss to extend Liberty’s lead to 36-28. The two teams traded buckets. Joel Galvan made a layup and Whiteside drove in for a layup.
Julian Galvan followed with a layup and Whiteside made two free throws.
A minute later Jonathan Garcia hit a 3-pointer and Julian Galvan made two free throws with four seconds left in the quarter to cut the Liberty lead to 40-37.
Copher made a layup to open the lead to five, but Galvan made a free throw.
Quentin Stewart turned a steal into a layup to extend Liberty’s lead to 44-38.
The Stallions tried to cut into the lead with a short jumper from Johnson and a Joel Galvan putback to get Madera South within two.
However, Whiteside immediately hit a 3-pointer to get the lead to five.
Madera south missed three shots and two free throws on its next possession. Meanwhile, Liberty missed two 3-pointers on its possession.
Trying to come back, the Stallions forced two turnovers and three missed shots. However, the Stallions turned the ball over on three straight possessions.
Whiteside made a free throw with 1:03 left in the game and Garcia made a layup to cut the lead to four.
Whiteside added a free throw with 14.1 seconds left in the game and Madera South missed a final 3-pointer for a five-point Liberty victory. Stallions fall short in a tall task against Edison As a Div. IV team in a league full of Div. I and II teams, the Madera South boys basketball team constantly faces an uphill battle team.
Stallions head coach Jody Sharp understands that his team is often up against the odds, but still wants to see a strong competitive spirit.
In the league opener against Div. I Edison on Friday, the Stallions stayed competitive in the first half, but phased out in the fourth quarter and lost 75-46.
“In the fourth quarter, we just stopped competing,” Sharp said. “There was no competitive spirit in our heart, in our souls. We were just going through the motions.”
The Tigers put together several runs in the first half, but the Stallions were able to respond each time to keep the game close. Edison senior Kelley Few, who ended the night with 20 points, was giving the Stallions problems from the beginning.
Few made two out of three free throws after being fouled on a 3-point shot in the second quarter. He then converted a layup on a fastbreak, giving the Tigers a 31-25 lead. Edison senior Eli Nourian made two more free throws before the end of the first half and gave the visitors a 33-27 lead at the break.
“I was proud of our kids in the first half,” Sharp said. “For a small part of the third quarter we did a good job, but then they just took over. We weren’t scoring and they were getting high quality shots. They wore us down with that press and we just didn’t do a good job taking care of the basketball.”
The Stallions had chances to cut the lead with fastbreak layups in the second half, but they weren’t able to convert. After scoring 13 points in the third quarter, the Stallions managed only six in the final period.
“We had opportunities, but we weren’t scoring,” Sharp said.
The Stallions also had difficulty getting rebounds against the Tigers’ taller players.
“There’s no question that their length caused us problems,” Sharp said. “Outside of two guys, we don’t have any size.”
Joel Galvan scored 13 points for the Stallions, while Jonbree Neal added eight points.
While he hopes that the team will be able to grow from facing tough challenges, Sharp also believes that there will be changes for the Stallions in the future.
“We shouldn’t be in this league,” Sharp said. “We should be in a league that gives our kids a chance to be competitive all over, in reference to all of our sports. But it is what it is and we have to do the best job that we can.”
In the meantime, Sharp said he’s not interested in the final score, but in how the team competes.
“If we just compete for the whole time, that’s all I ask,” he said “I don’t care about the outcome. If we just compete, give ourselves a chance, we’re helping ourselves for the next game down the road. When the playoffs come that helps us.”
He adds that there is a still of time in the season for the Stallions to grow.
“There are still a lot more teams to play and some teams that are very good,” Sharp said. “That’s just way it is in our league. We’re playing in a Division I and two league.”