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Published: Saturday, 2/26/2005

Focused Libbey ready to play in runaway victory over Start


Libbey may have been a little lackluster in its tournament basketball opener on Wednesday night against a 1-20 Northview squad, but the Cowboys checked that performance at the door upon returning to the Waite Field House last night.

The Cowboys jumped all over Start at the outset and rolled to a 78-50 victory over Start in a Division I sectional final.

The win sends 16-6 Libbey into a district semifinal matchup against 17-4 Scott at 6:15 p.m. Thursday at Savage Hall.

Libbey led just 7-5 after a three-point play by Spartan Jermaine Jones (15 points) with 4:44 left in the first quarter. But Jones' free throw was the last point Start would manage for the next 7:35 while the Cowboys bolted to a 25-5 lead.

"I think the guys were a little more focused tonight than they were the last time we played," Libbey coach Leroy Bates said of his team's 57-37 win Wednesday over Northview.

"Tonight, our guys realized we had to play a quality team in Start, and they put forth the effort."

After closing the first quarter with a 13-0 stretch, Libbey got a layup from sub Ryan Rayford and a 3-pointer from standout 6-6 sophomore guard Nate Miles 1:53 into the second to cap its game-breaking 18-0 run.

"They were in a 2-3 zone and they're big," Start coach Gil Guerrero said of his team's early trouble. "They gave us problems out there.

"We couldn't see anybody to pass to, and they were a little quicker than us, so our penetration wasn't good. Before you knew it, bam, they were off to the races."

The dynamic backcourt duo of Miles and junior Chris Poellnitz paced the Cowboys with 25 and 24 points, respectively, and freshman forward William Buford contributed 11 points and seven rebounds for the Cowboys

"The leadership Chris Poellnitz showed tonight was very useful in us establishing the tempo of the game," Bates said. "He up-tempoed the ball pretty well and he hit the men on the wings and in the paint, helping us score.

"His leadership at the guard position was really the difference."

Backup Start guard Terrell West finally ended his team's scoring drought by sinking a 3-pointer with 5:09 left in the half.

"There was a moment there where we got it down to 10 and then, boom, they got a couple baskets," Guerrero said. "And, Miles is tough as nails. He was shooting over people and we had no answer for him. We didn't the first time we played them either. If you go to double him, he finds the guy who's open."

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