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Hawks can’t withstand second half surge

Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune

Liberty’s Max Vestal tries to dribble around a Fowler defender to try to add to his team-high 19 points in Wednesday’s loss to the Redcats.


The Liberty Hawks boys basketball team wilted under the pressure of the Fowler Redcats in a 62-48 loss on the first day of the Madera South Basketball Classic.

The Redcats overcame a four-point halftime deficit and outscored the Hawks 33-15 in the second half to cruise to the win.

The Hawks had three players in double-figures, but the other two players that scored combined for only nine points.

Max Vestal led the Hawks with 19 points with 15 coming on five 3-pointers. Dante Ciritella scored 10 with six rebounds. Chris Baltierra, playing in his second game of the season, scored 10 points with nine rebounds, eight on the offensive board.

The Hawks had success defending the Redcats in their half-court set. They forced 21 turnovers with 15 steals. However, the Redcats had more success with their full-court press and forced 26 Liberty turnovers.

Vestal’s 3-pointer and Ciritella’s jumper tied the game early at five. After Fowler scored four points, Vestal put back a miss. Then, Israel Rivera answered a Fowler bucket with a layup. Baltierra put back his own miss to tie the score at 11.

Fowler scored the next six points for a 17-11 lead heading into the second quarter.

The Hawks got a pair of 3-pointers from Vestal, a jumper from Rivera, a 3-point play from Ciritella and a steal from Harmon Singh who found Vestal for a layup for a 13-2 run and a 24-19 lead.

The Redcats stopped the run with a 3-pointer, but Baltierra put back a Ciritella miss to get the lead back to four. After a Fowler bucket, Vestal drained a 3-pointer at the shot clock buzzer to get the lead to five.

Fowler came back with a free throw, but Ciritella sank a free throw for a 30-26 lead.

The Redcats hit a 3-pointer, but Rivera hit one of his own for a 33-29 lead at the half. The Hawks outscored 22-12 in the quarter and were 4-of-6 from 3-point range.

Fowler scored the first four points of the second half to tie the game. Baltierra scored down low for a two-point lead.

Then, the Redcats took advantage of four turnovers for a 12-0 run to get the lead to 10.

A 3-pointer and another bucket grew the run to 17-0 for a 50-35 lead.

Liberty closed the quarter with a bucket from Ciritella and a Vestal 3-pointer to trail 50-40.

Ciritella quickly cut the lead to eight with a layup, but Fowler answered with their layup. Baltierra put back his own miss, but Fowler answered, again, with a layup.

After another Fowler layup, Baltierra put back a miss, but Fowler scored the next six points to cruise to the win. Jaylen Rosentiel closed out the Hawks’ scoring with an offensive putback in the 62-48 loss.



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