By Steve Keenan
OAK HILL —
Liberty coach Aaron Pauley left the Lilly Center Saturday a pretty satisfied man.
“We knew we’d have to grind this one out,” Pauley said after his Raiders got some daylight in the fourth quarter of a matinee game against host Oak Hill and eventually earned a 55-46 verdict. “This is one of the best wins we’ve had for a while.”
In a contest that featured key runs by both teams, the Raiders got the biggest one at the outset of the final period. Leading 33-31, Liberty proceeded on a 9-0 tear that included a foul line jumper by Trevor McGhee, a 3-point play by Levi Cook, a deuce by Cook following a lob pass from Tre McDowell, and a turnaround jumper on the baseline by Cook — the latter which left the Raiders owning a 42-31 spread at the 4:58 mark.
Oak Hill’s Joey Re responded with seven consecutive points, which included a 3-pointer and a strong inside move, to trim the deficit to four, 42-38, but the Raiders maintained their composure and eventually stretched the lead back out to 10 points, 50-40.
“We told the kids Levi was eventually going to get some looks,” said Pauley. “The biggest part for us was our movement away from the ball.”
Oak Hill led 10-2 in the early going before Liberty gained an 18-16 lead on a 2-pointer by McGhee off a Cook assist with 2:47 left in the first half. The Red Devils later regained control at 29-22 with an 8-0 spurt that featured four points by Marc Logan and two each by Re and Kadrin Goodman.
However, Liberty’s Cook answered, scoring on a hook shot and on a putback that resulted in a 3-point play to make it 29-27. With Oak Hill up 31-27, Liberty closed the third with six quick points in transition and set the stage for the pivotal fourth.
Oak Hill coach Walt Raines felt the closing stages of the third quarter was the key for Liberty. “They (gained) the momentum when the big kid (Cook) had three straight long passes,” Raines said. After that scoring stretch, Liberty “started clearing it out and posting up, and that made it tough for us.”
“We had great effort, but you’ve got to reward your effort by scoring,” Raines added, pointing to a 29 percent shooting performance for his squad.
Cook finished with 25 points, 14 rebounds, four blocked shots and four assists to pace the Liberty effort. McGhee added nine points and four assists
Oak Hill, which lost its seventh straight, got a 24-point performance from Re, who fouled out with 1:25 to go. Ervin Fruit contributed nine points.
The Red Devils captured the jayvee game 68-38. Deonte Scruggs scored 14 and Joe Curry and Colby Gray had 10 each for Oak Hill, while Tanner Cantley led the Raiders with nine points.
Oak Hill (3-15) visits Winfield Tuesday and hosts Woodrow Wilson Thursday. The Woodrow game was originally set for Friday.
Liberty (13-7) plays at Westside Monday before entertaining PikeView Tuesday.
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Austin Lyons 4 0-0 8, Michael Prater 2 2-2 6, Levi Cook 9 7-9 25, Tre McDowell 2 1-1 5, Trevor McGhee 2 5-8 9, Devin Acord 0 2-2 2. Totals: 19 17-22 55.
Oak Hill (3-15)
Kadrin Goodman 2 0-2 4, Josh Jones 0 0-0 0, Marc Logan 3 0-0 6, Joey Re 8 6-6 24, Ervin Fruit 4 0-0 9, Kyalo Bradford 0 0-0 0, Chris Hysell 1 0-0 3, Quenten Traynham 0 0-0 0. Totals: 18 6-8 46.
L 12 8 13 22 — 55
OH 7 12 12 15 — 46
3-point goals — L: None; OH: 4 (Re 2, Fruit, Hysell). Fouled out — OH: Re.