|West Liberty takes down West Branch|
by Norv and Mary Coblentz · February 05, 2014
It took an overtime period to do it, but the West Liberty Comets boys' basketball team defeated the West Branch Bears on the road Jan. 24, 62-59.
"I thought we shared the ball pretty well," West Liberty Head Coach James Laughlin said. "We did some good things. Troy Heick is home sick right now, so Brady Smith stepped in and did a nice job defensively on (West Branch's tall man, Bradley) Arp. We got banged up. Brady twisted an ankle. Cooper (Koenig) hurt his knee. We were a short bench there for a while, and I thought Luke Seele did a great job coming in off the bench as well."
Both teams swapped points in the first quarter, ending with a basket by Becker made for a 15-15 tie at the end.
Becker started the second quarter with a three-point shot, then West Branch tied it with a trey. Becker hit another three pointer. Each team got a defensive rebound. Smith got a defensive board, then the Bears got a steal and a layup. West Branch got another steal and Guardado got a defensive board. West Liberty turned the ball over a couple of times, but the Bears didn't score until the 3:00 mark when a putback basket gave them a 22-21 lead.
Guardado got the lead back for the Comets with a short jumper. The Bears turned the ball over but got a steal and a layup. Miller scored, assist Becker, for a 25-24 lead. Guardado was fouled and made both free throws for a 27-24 score. West Branch scored inside to cut the Comets lead to one, then Riley Anderson made a basket just before the buzzer sounded for a 29-26 West Liberty halftime lead.
The third quarter started off slowly offensively for both teams. The Bears scored the first basket at the 4:49 mark, then Miller made a three-point shot for a 32-28 West Liberty lead. Later on West Branch completed a traditional three-point play with 28.2 seconds on the clock for a 42-39 Bears lead. The Bears got a defensive board, then Miller got a defensive rebound to end the quarter.
The Comets started the fourth quarter with possession, but the Bears got a rebound and a basket to take a 44-39 lead. West Branch got a steal, then turned the ball over. The Comets were fouled and missed both free throws. West Branch got the rebound. West Branch scored inside for a seven-point Bears lead with 6:03 in regulation.
West Branch got a steal then traveled. West Liberty traveled, then the Bears fouled. Becker scored inside to cut the West Branch lead to five with less than five minutes remaining in regulation. The Bears turned the ball over and Miller made a layup for a 46-43 score. West Branch traveled, then Miller scored, assist Becker, for a 46-45 West Branch lead. Miller was fouled on a rebound and made one of two free throws for a 46-46 tie with 3:37 on the clock.
Guardado got a defensive rebound, then Becker made a putback basket to give the Comets the lead with 2:40 left in the fourth quarter. The Bears were fouled and made both free throws for a 48-48 tie with 1:45 on the clock. Anderson was fouled and made the first of two free throws. West Branch got the rebound. West Branch made a basket, drew a foul and missed the free throw. Guardado got the rebound.
Becker drove to the basket and scored for a 51-50 West Liberty lead with 52 seconds on the clock. West Branch was fouled and made the first of two free throws to tie the contest at 51-51. Guardado got the rebound. The game went into a four-minute overtime period.
Guardado's tip to start overtime went to Smith, but the Comets turned the ball over. Guardado deflected the ball to Becker, and Miller scored for a 53-51 Comets lead with 3:20 to go.
The Comets fouled, the team's 10th, and West Branch made both free throws to tie the score. Miller drove to the hoop and scored, then West Branch tied it again. West Liberty traveled, then West Branch took a 57-55 lead with less than two minutes to go.
The Comets took a time out with 1:36 to go. Becker drew a foul and made the first of two free throws, pulling the Comets to within one point with 1:29 remaining. The Bears turned the ball over, then Becker scored for a 58-57 West Liberty lead with 57 seconds left. West Branch scored inside with 40 seconds to go, and the Bears led by one. Guardado scored, assist Becker, and drew a foul with 24.8 seconds left. Guardado made the free throw after a time out for a 61-59 West Liberty lead.
A West Branch shot went in and back out and Guardado got the rebound. With 9.1 seconds go to, Becker was fouled. He made the first of two free throws for a 62-59 West Liberty lead. West Branch got the rebound and a three-point try by the Bears at the buzzer just missed, giving the Comets the win.
"At the end, we had the opportunity," West Branch Head Coach Kevin Gaster said. "Miscommunication unfortunately cost us the game."