Liberty lads lacerate Lancers

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Win is a big one for M-Men hardwooders

By Mike Forster

  Prior to Liberty's game with Amherst, Minuteman Phillip Milton had called the game a "must win."

No doubt, everyone on the team agreed with the senior's assessment.  No doubt, the team rose as one to meet the challenge, particularly when offensive standout Ryan Hensley was banged up in the game's early going.

The Minutemen put it all together in knocking off Amherst, 65-56.  The win gave Liberty a Seminole District mark of 3-2, which means the following:

-They still are in the running for at least a share of the Seminole crown.  Of course, somewhere along the way, someone has to figure out how to knock off Heritage.  Liberty got its chance on Tuesday night, after this newspaper's press run.

-Liberty remains the best Div. 3 team in the district.  Should they maintain that distinction, the Minutemen's path in the playoffs becomes substantially easier.

-The Minutemen topped a team with a winning district record.  Amherst was 3-1 coming into the contest.  Now, both the Lancers and M-Men sport 3-2 district marks.

"We needed that win...in a big way," said Liberty Head Coach Jeff Monroe.  "Not just for the moral victory, but also because it gives us three district wins so far."

Three wins is more than some expected Liberty to get from the entire Seminole skein.

If the team continues to play as it did against Amherst, that total should increase substantially.

Three that stood out in the win were all-around player Tre'von Lightfoot, point guard Kendrick Thompson and big man Jamaal Preston.

The trio combined for 34 points, with Lightfoot's 14 leading the way.  Thompson had 11 and Preston added 10.

"We didn't panic in critical situations," noted Coach Monroe.  "When we take care of the basketball, we usually can play with a lot of teams."

The time to panic might have come when Hensley hurt his elbow in the second quarter.

Playing like a one-armed bandit the rest of the way, Hensley was not as effective as usual.  Others stepped up to fill the void.

Lightfoot, in particular, plugged in for Hensley to good effect, providing some timely scoring.

Thompson's drive through the lane resulted in bucketloads of free throws.  He coolly converted a good number for them, putting up points the easy way.

Preston used his muscular frame to clear some bodies out of his way as he nabbed rebound after rebound, particularly on the offensive side.


Round two

After the Heritage game, Liberty has a shot at putting some additional space between itself and the rest of the D3 teams (Rustburg and Brookville).

That's because the M-Men host the Rusties on Friday night.  The following Tuesday (Jan 22), they head to Brookville.

Wins over both should give Liberty a first-round bye in the D-3 tourney.  A win over the Rustburg-Brookville winner would give them a top seed in Region III play.