The City League basketball showdown last night between Libbey's Cowboys and the visiting Waite Indians promised to be a shootout between two up-tempo teams.
The Cowboys proved to be much better shooters in rolling to an easy 83-51 victory before a crowd of 2,000.
Defending CL champion Libbey (14-2, 9-1), Ohio's fourth-ranked Division II team, closed the first quarter with a 20-7 run and never looked back.
The first-place Cowboys were paced by 19 points from William Buford, and 18 points and 11 rebounds from Julius Wells. Brad Sandridge and Brad Burton added 14 and 11 points, respectively, as Libbey's senior contingent went out in style in the final game in their home gym.
To reach the City League playoffs, Waite (12-4, 7-3) must now either win next Friday at third-place Whitmer (12-3, 8-2) or have second-place St. John's Jesuit (11-5, 9-1) beat rival St. Francis de Sales (12-5, 7-3) that night at Savage Hall.
St. Francis kept its playoff hopes alive with an 89-84 double-overtime win over Scott last night.
The Indians were led by senior guards Khari Riley (15 points, eight rebounds) and Robert Jackson (10 points). Riley (1,004 points) is the first boys player in school history to reach 1,000 for a career.
Jackson's 3-pointer 2:14 into the game gave Waite its last lead at 7-6. Wells answered with a 3-pointer 40 seconds later to touch off his team's 20-7 spurt to close the period ahead 26-14.
Waite was still within 34-23 after Brent Meredith's two-hand dunk in transition 3:21 before halftime, but Libbey responded with a 10-1 run to close the half comfortably ahead 44-24.
"It was just a matter that our feet were quicker, our arms were longer and we jumped higher," Libbey coach Leroy Bates said of his team's big scoring waves. "The guys were energized by the fact that [the Indians] were scoring, and we had to do something on the offensive end, too."
Wells, who scored 15 of his points in the first half, energized Libbey's half of the big crowd with a two-handed slam on a rebound of Buford's miss 1:08 before the break.
Hot-shooting Libbey stretched its surge to 16-1 by scoring the first six points after halftime. Buford tallied 15 of his 19 points in the second half.
"We have times when we play a little bit of selfish ball, but overall I think we're doing pretty good," Buford said. "We feel we're only as good as our worst player, so we're just going to keep on working hard and staying in the gym."
Before the Cowboy subs missed six straight shots to close the game, Libbey had hit 29 of its first 43 shots (66 percent) in the game. The Cowboys ended at 59 percent overall, hit 19 of their 27 free throws, and outrebounded Waite 39-27.
Waite's biggest problem may have been running with Libbey.
"Before the game we talked about trying to turn it into a half-court game," Waite coach Dave Pitsenbarger said, "and pick and choose our times to press. But we got in a little foul trouble, so that kind of took away some of our opportunities to get after them.
"We kind of had to get out of that game plan once we fell behind. We felt like we had to try and make a run there in the third quarter. You could see the difference. They do a little bit better [running] than we do at this point, and we didn't rebound. That makes it tough."
The Indians were 22 of 59 (37 percent) from the field, and sank just three of 12 foul shots.
Contact Steve Junga at: email@example.com or 419-724-6461.