Hawks open with tournament split
Tyler Takeda/The Madera Tribune
Liberty’s Dante Ciritella drives the lane for two of his 13 points in a three-point loss to East to open the Hawks Classic on Thursday.
The Liberty Hawks boys basketball team picked up a split in the first two games of the Hawks Classic.
In both games, the Hawks had to overcome the loss of reigning Madera Tribune Boys Basketball team’s Most Valuable Player Carson Stephens in the third quarter.
Against East-Bakersfield on Thursday to open their own tournament, the Hawks almost overcame Stephens’ loss (fouled out in the third quarter) with a 62-59 loss. Dante Ciritella narrowly missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to tie the game.
In Friday’s game against Yosemite-Oakhurst, Stephens went down in the third quarter with an ankle injury. The Hawks held on for a 51-46 victory. Ciritella and Vestal made clutch free throws at the end of the game to seal it for the Hawks.
To close the game on Saturday, Sierra-Tollhouse, overtook the Hawks for a 61-41 victory in the fifth place game.
Ciritella was named to the All-Tournament Team. He scored 48 points in the three games.
The Hawks continued play Monday against Madera South and will traveled to Tranquillity on Tuesday.
East 62, Liberty 59
Ciritella and Stephens combined for 30 points in the loss to open the tournament. Max Vestal added 13 points as the Hawks almost overcame a 10-point fourth quarter deficit.
East jumped out to an early 10-4 lead to open the game.
Stephens helped the Hawks go on a 9-2 run to take the lead. He started the run with a 3-pointer. He found Harmen Singh for a layup. Singh got a pass from Israel Rivera for another layup and Stephens drove the lane for another for a 13-12 lead.
East hit a short jumper to take a 14-13 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Buckets from Ciritella and Vestal gave the Hawks a 17-14 lead. Stephens found Robbie Geening for a layup and Vestal made a free throw for a 20-14 lead.
East battled back with three straight points. Sing stopped the run with a offensive putback. Vestal made a free throw and Stephens made two technical foul free throws for a 25-19 lead in the final minute.
However, East made a layup and then put back a miss. They stole the inbounds pass and drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer for a 26-25 lead at the half.
Stephens made a layup to tie the game early in the third quarter and then drove for a layup to tie the game at 29.
East hit a 3-pointer and a short bucket, but the Hawks responded with two free throws from Stephens. After an East layup, Ciritella made a pair of free throw to cut the lead to three midway through the third.
Ciritella got a steal and found Stephens for a layup. Then, Stephens found Ciritella with a long pass for a layup for a 37-36 lead.
East made a pair of free throws and put back a miss for a three-point lead. Then, Stephens was called for his fourth personal foul and hit with a technical foul with 1:13 left in the third and the Hawks were without their leading scorer.
East made all four free throws to open the lead to seven.
Vestal made a layup, but East made two more free throws and a 3-pointer at the buzzer for a 49-39 lead heading into the fourth.
The Hawks battled tough in the fourth. Vestal opened the quarter with a pair of free throws and later hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to five.
East made a bucket, but Ciritella made a pair of free throws. Vestal made a free throw and Singh hit a jumper to cut the lead to two with 3:26 left in the game.
East answered with a 3-pointer and an offensive putback to get the lead to seven. Vestal made a free throw, but East made a layup. Rivera made two free throws, but East made two for a 60-53 lead.
Singh picked up a steal and Rivera made a 15-foot jumper to cut the lead to five with 1:19 left. After two East free throws, Ciritella made a layup and Vestal made two free throws to cut the lead to three with 51 seconds left.
East got a shot off, but missed and Ciritella got the rebound. The Hawks called time out with six seconds left. After the time out, Ciritella got an open look at a 3-pointer on the baseline, but missed just long for the loss.
Liberty 51, Yosemite 46
Ciritella led the Hawks from start to finish for a 51-46 win over North Sequoia League opponents Yosemite on Friday.
Ciritella scored 23 points to lead the Hawks. Stephens scored 12 before he injured his ankle in the third quarter and Vestal added 10.
The Hawks took control of the game in the first quarter. Ciritella hit a short jumper and a 3-pointer for an early 5-3 lead. After Yosemite tied the score, Ciritella found Stephens for a layup. After a Yosemite layup, Ciritella found Stephens, again, for a short jumper and a two-point lead.
Ciritella then hit a 3-pointer, but Yosemite answered back. Stephens hit a 3-pointer, but Yosemite hit a jumper. Then, Vestal closed the quarter with a 3-pointer for an 18-11 lead.
Stephens hit a 3-pointer, Vestal went coast-to-coast with a steal for a layup and Stephens found Ciriteall for a layup for a 10-0 run and a 25-11 lead.
Yosemite stopped the run with a 3-pointer, but Ciritella made a layup. After a Yosemite 3-pointer, Stephens found Ciritella for a layup and a 30-17 halftime lead.
Singh made a free throw and Stephens hit a short jumper for a 33-19 lead.
Yosemite made two free throws, but Ciritella made a pair of layups to open a 15-point lead.
The Badgers scored the next 11 points to close out the third quarter to cut the Hawks’ lead to 37-33.
Singh opened the fourth quarter scoring with a bucket, but the Badgers made a pair of free throws.
Vestal hit a short jumper for a six-point lead. The Badgers cut the lead to two with two free throws and an offensive putback. Yosemite extended its run to 8-1 to cut the lead to one.
Singh put back a miss for a 3-point lead. Yosemite scored a driving bucket, but Ciritella opened a four-point lead with about 1:30 left with a 3-pointer.
Yosemite made a layup and a free throw to cut the lead to 47-46 with 1:01 left in the game.
Yosemte was called for a travel with 22.4 seconds left and Ciritella made two free throws with 12.2 seconds left for a three-point lead. The Badgers tried to split a Liberty double-team and Vestal came up with the steal. He was fouled and made two free throws for the 51-46 victory.