Kettle Run boys basketball gives Liberty first Evergreen District loss
The Cougars entered the game with a 0-7 record against coach Pat Frazer’s Liberty team since Kettle Run opened for the 2008-09 season, but they beat Liberty, 52-51, Tuesday. --File photo by Rick Wasser
Missed shots are the lone source of offensive rebounds.
That was an unfortunate truth Tuesday for the Liberty Eagles.
Liberty capped a 20-offensive rebound night with two in final five seconds of the fourth quarter against the Kettle Run Cougars. The other end of that equation was they missed three shots from within a foot of the basket in the final eight seconds, which allowed the Cougars to escape with a 52-51 victory at home in Nokesville.
“I was so scared,” Kettle Run junior Brendan Deliee said of the closing seconds. “But pulling it out, this is the best feeling ever.”
The Cougars entered the game with a 0-7 record against coach Pat Frazer’s Liberty team since Kettle Run opened for the 2008-09 season. They held a one-point lead Tuesday with 13.4 seconds remaining in the fourth and Christian Yancy at the free-thrown line hoping to add to that advantage.
Yancy, however, missed the bonus free throw. Liberty’s Arber Krasniqi grabbed the rebound and passed the ball to Xavier Colbert, who had scored a game-high 18 points.
Colbert quickly pushed the ball up the floor, penetrated the right side of the lane and drew the attention of three Kettle Run defenders. That left Krasniqi all alone on left side of the basket with about eight seconds remaining.
Colbert passed the ball, but Krasniqi’s layup attempt rolled off the rim.
“He was wide open,” Colbert said. “Easy bucket, but in the last second like that, it’s easy to miss.”
To wit, Colbert missed two subsequent shots; albeit highly-contested shots. The Liberty senior got an offensive rebound from Krasniqi’s missed layup, but then Kettle Run’s Danny Mattson partially-blocked Colbert’s ensuing short jump shot.
“I got hit,” Colbert said. “But I should have finished.”
Colbert then grabbed the offensive rebound from his own miss, but his second short jump shot also rolled off the rim as the buzzer sounded.
“I was real anxious. … It was just a big relief that we were able to come away with it,” Kettle Run coach Troy Washington said. “Beating them tonight for the first time is a credit to Coach Frazer and the things he does with that program. It’s just been tough to beat those guys.”
Kettle Run’s narrow victory muddled the Evergreen District standings. The Cougars (6-9) improved to 3-1 and moved into a three-way tie for first place with Fauquier (3-1 district, 8-9 overall) and Liberty (3-1, 8-10), which suffered its first Evergreen loss Tuesday.
“A win like this tonight does a lot for the mindset of our kids,” Washington said. “We had some tough losses over the course of the last week or so. … It was a big relief to get a win and get ourselves back in the district” race.
The win broke a three-game losing streak for Kettle Run and put greater importance on the second half of the Evergreen schedule for all three district-leading teams.
“It’s fun,” Frazer said. “I mean [this loss] is not fun, but. … People miss wide open layups. It’s OK. We’re going to pick each other up.”
Liberty will thin the traffic jam atop the district standings Friday on the road against Fauquier, which the Eagles destroyed, 71-39, in their first meeting Jan. 4.
“Fauquier’s playing great. They’re killing everybody,” Frazer said. “If we lose we’re in third place and then we’re just fighting for a district playoff berth.”
Meanwhile, Kettle Run will begin the second half of their district schedule Friday against Brentsville (1-3).
“We’re ready to win out,” said Deliee, who scored nine of his 11 points in the fourth quarter.
Deliee went 3-for-3 on 3-point shooting in the fourth to help counter an Amend Krasniqi 3-pointer and back-to-back 3-pointers by Aaron Patterson for Liberty in the fourth.
“I set a lot of screens for my teammates; tried to get them open, which in turn got me open because my [defender] helped,” Deliee said.
Earlier in the second half, Washington pulled Deliee from the game to address the juniors defensive breakdowns.
“You’ve got to take your little lecture … about your deficiencies and come right back headstrong. He did that,” Washington said. “He hit some gigantic shots.”
The Eagles led 13-12 at the end of the first quarter and entered halftime in a 24-all tie. Liberty took a lead as large as 32-27 during the third quarter, but Kettle Run’s Travis Williams pertinently swung momentum with a four-point play.
With less than 80 seconds remaining in the third and the Cougars trailing, 34-33, Mattson pulled down a third-consecutive offensive rebound on one Kettle Run possession and passed to Williams in the far corner. Williams made a 3-pointer, drew a foul and added a free-throw point to give the Cougars a 37-34 lead.
“Because we don’t rebound. That’s all that is,” Frazer said. “It you don’t do your job, you’re eventually going to get burned. … I was impressed with the way [the Cougars] rebounded tonight. I thought that was kind of their Achilles.”
Kettle Run had 12 offensive rebounds in the game and held its own overall – 32 rebounds to Liberty’s 36 – but the Cougars gave up 20 offensive rebounds to Liberty, including nine by Colbert.
“They don’t box out,” Colbert said. “So I can crash easier.”
Kettle Run took a lead as large as 47-41 in the fourth. The Eagles rallied back to take a 51-50 lead, but then Rashawn Latimer scored the Cougars’ go-ahead basket on a short dribble jumper with 53 seconds remaining in the fourth.
Latimer finished with six points, while Mattson led the Cougars with 12 points and three assists, Travis Williams had 10 points and three assists, Eddie Benton had six points and six rebounds, and Deliee had six rebounds and three steals.
“Danny was really excited about playing. He had a little glee in his eye,” Washington said. “He was juiced up and ready to go.”
For Liberty, Colbert had 16 rebounds and seven assists to go with his 18 points, while Armend Krasniqi had 10 points, seven rebounds and two assists, and Aaron Patterson had 10 points, three steals and two assists. C.J. Lindsay added seven points, five rebounds and two blocks, while Chris Vorrath had four points and three steals.
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