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Boys beat West Branch
by Norv and Mary Coblentz · January 02, 2014

The West Liberty boys' basketball team built a big lead over the West Branch Bears in the first half, Dec. 17, and rode out a big Bears' third quarter. This was their second conference win of the season, defeating West Branch 53-47.

"I thought we did some really good things in the first half," West Liberty Head Coach James Laughlin said. "We came out and played well and executed and played some good defense, got some layups and easy shots offensively. Had a 15 point lead. We talked at halftime about coming out and finishing and doing the same stuff."

First Quarter

Troy Heick's tip went to Riley Anderson to start the game. The Bears got a rebound and were fouled. They missed both free throws.

West Branch got a steal, then Carl Guardado got a steal and a layup for a 2-0 West Liberty lead. The Bears tied it up with a drive to the hoop.

Kyle Miller scored, assist Brett Becker. Guardado got a defensive rebound; then the Comets were called for a foul. Becker got a steal and fed the ball to Guardado, who made a layup for a 6-2 score.

Guardado got a steal, then Heick was fouled. He made both free throws. Guardado got another steal and made a layup for a 10-2 West Liberty lead.

West Branch called a timeout then scored a basket. Each team turned the ball over, then Anderson made a three-point shot with 3:22 on the clock for a 13-4 lead. The Bears got a putback basket, then Brady Smith, who came off the bench to score 10 points for the Comets, made an outside jumper. The Bears scored on a drive to the basket; then Anderson was fouled on a shot. He made the second of two free throws.

The Bears made a three-point shot with 46 seconds left in the quarter. Guardado scored again, assist Becker, and was fouled. Guardado completed the three-point play for a 19-11 score after one quarter of play.

Second Quarter

The Bears started the second quarter with the ball and scored quickly. Miller answered with a layup for the Bears. The Bears were fouled and made both free throws, then Guardado scored in the paint.

The Comets fouled, then Smith got a steal. Miller was fouled on a shot and made both free throws, and the Cometsí lead was 10 points.

Cooper Koenig got a defensive board for the Comets, then the Comets traveled. Miller got a defensive rebound, and Koenig made an outside shot for a 27-15 score.

The Bears turned the ball over, then Smith scored, assist Becker. Smith got a defensive rebound then a putback basket. Smith got another defensive rebound, then the Bears got one, then Becker got one. The Comets turned the ball over on a fast break.

The next score was West Branch's in the paint at the 1:41 mark for a 31-17 score. Miller scored with a putback basket. West Branch hit a three-pointer with less than a minute to play.

The Comets turned the ball over, then Koenig got a defensive rebound. Smith got an offensive rebound and was fouled on a shot. He made both free throws with 2.6 seconds left in the half. The first half ended with the Comets ahead 35-20.

Third Quarter

West Liberty had possession to start the third quarter, and Becker made a jumper to start the scoring. West Branch scored the next eight points on a three-point basket, a traditional three-point play, and a jumper. The Score was 37-28.

The Comets turned the ball over. Heick got a block, but the ball stayed with the Bears. The Bears turned the ball over with 3:58 left in the quarter, and Guardado scored with a layup for a 39-28 score.

The Bears' shooting got hot, and they started to close the gap. West Branch hit a three-pointer with 3:21 on the clock. West Liberty turned the ball over, but Anderson got a deflection and Smith came up with the ball. The Bears got a defensive board.

Ryan Alpen got a defensive rebound for West Liberty, and Miller got a putback basket for a 41-31 lead. The Bears answered with a three. West Branch got a defensive rebound. The Comets took a time out, then the Bears made another three-pointer for a 41-37 score with 40 seconds left on the clock. The Bears hit a jump shot at the buzzer for a 41-39 score after three quarters of play.

"We missed a lot of bunnies in the third quarter, and we didn't play very good defense," Laughlin said. "We let them back in the ballgame."

Fourth Quarter

West Branch started the final quarter with the ball. Alpen got a defensive rebound, the Bears got one; then Miller got a rebound. Another Bears rebound and a drive to the basket made it a 41-41 tie with 6:14 left to play.

Smith got a putback basket to give the Comets back the lead. The Bears were fouled and made the second of two free throws. Guardado scored inside, assist Anderson. Smith got a steal, then Anderson was fouled on a shot. He made both free throws for a 47-42 West Liberty lead.

Anderson got a defensive rebound, then Becker made a putback basket. The Bears called a time out. When play resumed, West Branch made a three-point shot, cutting West Liberty's lead to four points.

Guardado drove to the basket and scored with 2:05 to go. West Branch traveled, then the Comets turned the ball over. Guardado got a defensive rebound, but the Comets stepped on the sideline with 53.3 seconds left in the game.

West Branch drove to the basket and scored. Each team took a timeout. Miller caught the inbounds pass and made a basket with about 10 seconds to go for a 53-47 West Liberty lead, which was the final score.

"As a team, we came out in the second half a little more focused and realized what we needed to do," West Branch Head Coach Kevin Gaster said. "That's the team you saw and was the team we should have had in the first half."

"We took care of business in the end, and that's the important thing," Laughlin said. "Our press got us going early. (West Branch) did a nice job adjusting in the second half."

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