JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge
JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge
With another City League championship all but wrapped up, Libbey stepped on the court with Rogers last night with one goal in mind.
"Our goal is always to play better than we did the last game," Libbey coach Leroy Bates said.
The Cowboys didn't quite do that and came up shy of completely pleasing their coach with a performance that was marred by numerous turnovers by both teams.
But Libbey played well enough in spurts to claim a 60-49 victory over the Rams at Savage Hall.
William Buford, the 6-foot-5 Ohio State-bound senior, did his part to help the fourth-ranked Cowboys (16-2, 10-1) put away another City League foe. The do-it-all guard carried the Cowboys with 29 points.
Buford delivered the game's most significant points of the night when he glided to the basket for a one-handed slam over the outstretched hands of Rogers' 6-7 center Delante Heard, who was charged with a foul on the play that evoked thunderous cheers from the crowd.
Buford sank the foul shot to convert the three-point play and give the Cowboys a 55-42 lead with 2:39 left in the game.
"William Buford made some big shots for us in key points of the game," Bates said. "That [dunk] was a big play for us because it energized the rest of the guys."
The Cowboys held off the Rams (4-14, 2-9) the rest of the way.
Lance Jones finished with nine points and Julius Wells added eight for the Cowboys.
Damon Powell scored 13 points for the Rams while Heard finished with 12.
But the Rams' overall effort from start to finish didn't go unappreciated by Earl Morris, the former Scott coach who is in his first year in charge at Rogers.
"The kids played well and played hard and I can't ask for anything more than that," Morris said. "They [the Cowboys] have a legitimate scorer [Buford] who can score at any time and we don't have that right now.
"They've got a guy that can score 35 to 40 points on any given night. It's a luxury to have that."
The Rams stayed with the Cowboys during the opening quarter and actually were in position to take the lead into the second quarter before Jones was fouled with 43.1 seconds left and made one of two free throws to a tie the score at 15 to end the quarter.
The Cowboys led 28-24 at halftime and never trailed the rest of the night.
Despite the victory, Libbey's coach commended the Rams for not allowing the Cowboys to ever feel completely in control until the waning moments of the fourth quarter.
Other than Buford and Jones, he thought the rest of the Cowboys were inconsistent.
"As far as I'm concerned we took a step backward and Rogers took a step forward," Bates said.