Over the years, many Scott-Libbey basketball matchups have boiled down to which team manages to keep its composure amid an overabundance of adrenaline and the attention from the big crowds this City League rivalry typically generates.
Last night was no exception as the Libbey Cowboys kept their cool well enough to emerge with a convincing 67-44 victory over the Bulldogs (10-5, 7-2), who were plagued by impatience and ice-cold shooting before a crowd estimated at 5,500 at Savage Hall.
“Anytime you re playing in front of a big crowd, our experience has been just focusing on the things you practice,” Libbey coach Leroy Bates said. “If you do that, you have a greater chance at success.
“If you get into the hype of the crowd and the community thing, it can cause some shortcomings. I was pleased with the way the guys stayed focused.”
Half of that big crowd (Scott s side) sat in quiet frustration as its team hit just 2 of 16 shots and committed seven turnovers in the first quarter, which ended with Libbey having gone 6-of-13 and on top 16-4.
By the 3:41 mark of the second quarter, things hadn t changed much and the Cowboys (11-4, 8-1) pushed their lead to 30-6 on two free throws from Jerome Pierce, one of five Libbey players who would score in double figures.
“That first half really destroyed us,” said Scott assistant coach Neal Abernathy. “The ball was going in-and-out, in-and-out. We had good looks, but that s how the cookie crumbles sometimes. Hopefully we can recover from this loss and come back Tuesday against Lima Senior.”
Bulldogs head coach Earl Morris missed the game because he was out of the state attending the funeral of his mother-in-law.
For the second straight Friday night here, Scott s 1-2 scoring punch of Romeo Alexander and Vershawn Chears struggled mightily to find the basket. Each averaging around 18 points per game going into last week s 77-44 loss against St. John s, the duo combined for just 13 points.
Last night, Alexander scored nine points on 4-for-23 shooting while Chears, who drew his third foul with 3:43 left in the first quarter, scored just three points on 1-for-11 shooting.
“We knew there was going to be a lot of people here and we came out with intensity,” Pierce said. “But coach Bates told us, Don t make this game bigger than what it is. Just play.
“We were going to let them shoot themselves out of the game. We saw the St. John s game, and [the Bulldogs] weren t making a lot of shots. So we went zone.”
In all, the Bulldogs hit just 19 of 77 shots (24.7 percent) in the game, and were 1-for-21 on 3-pointers. Although Scott matched Libbey s 46 rebounds, the Cowboys hit 23 of 30 free throws compared to 5 of 7 for the Bulldogs.
“We ve been having problems sticking to the game plan, and sometimes certain kids are more disciplined than others,” Abernathy said. “The season s not over with yet. Hopefully they ll come around.”
Joining Pierce, who was 8-for-8 from the line in his 11-point effort, in the double-figure club were Marquel Jefferson and Ernie Reed, who topped Libbey with 14 points apiece, freshman wing Nate Miles with 12, and forward Quintin Mitchell with 10.
On a down note, Libbey s 6-3 senior forward David Osby, a third-year starter, left the game with a left knee injury. He went down after scoring a basket 4:49 before halftime.
Libbey was 20-of-53 from the field, including 6-of-13 on 3-pointers and committed 17 turnovers to Scott s 15.
Kenneth Byrd, who had 10 of Scott s 12 points at halftime, led the Bulldogs with 13.
After trailing by as many as 26 points (44-18) midway in the third quarter, Scott never got closer than 19 from there.