Liberty crushes Fauquier in boys basketball rematch
Friday, Jan. 4
Liberty's Xavier Colbert grabs one of nine rebounds during a 71-39 victory over Fauquier on Friday in Bealeton. --Staff Photo/Randy Litzinger
Last week they played a double-overtime game.
This week was push-over time.
The Liberty Eagles toppled the Fauquier Falcons on Friday at home in Bealeton, winning 71-39 just seven days after losing to Fauquier, 80-79, in double overtime on the road in Warrenton.
It was the same Fauquier team in both games, but the same players didn't participate. Caleb Lantz, the Falcons' best shooter, and Carl Hellandsjo, Fauquier's best inside presence, did not play in the rematch Friday. Falcons coach Wayne Brizzi declined to explain his decision to keep both players on the bench in their warmup cloths.
Without Lantz and Hellandsjo, the Falcons held their own during the first quarter thanks to frequent Liberty fouls (10 in 8 minutes, 6 seconds), but the Eagles pulled away to a 40-24 lead by halftime. The 32-point final margin was the largest in, at least, the past five seasons of the Liberty-Fauquier rivalry.
"The score is meaningless. A loss is a loss," said Brizzi, who began emptying his bench in the third quarter. "When you compete hard, I don't know that any score is embarrassing."
The Falcons and Eagles played five games last season and the combined margin of victory was only 33 points.
So, with such a convincing victory Friday, Liberty's quest to win a fourth-consecutive Evergreen District championship is off to a resounding start.
"We knew this game we had to make a statement," senior guard Aaron Patterson said of both team's district-opener.
"We want another [district championship] banner," senior Xavier Colbert said. "Our mindset was we can't lose."
The Dec. 28 game Fauquier (5-7, 0-1) won over Liberty (6-8, 1-0) was a non-district holiday tournament contest.
Beating the Falcons in the rematch Friday gave Liberty a much-needed victory. The Eagles had lost six of their past seven games.
"Things have been rough. They haven't been very fun," Liberty coach Pat Frazer said. "We're not used to, the last couple years, being 5-8."
The Eagles got their sixth victory thanks to hot shooting that sparked a 10-3 run to end the second quarter. Liberty continued that momentum at the start of the third period with a 20-2 run, which gave it a 60-26 lead with 2 minutes, 45 second remaining in the quarter.
"They had a couple nice runs," Brizzi said. "Our kids tried to bounce back two or three times, but … it just kind of snowballed on us."
Liberty made 57 percent of its field goals over the first three quarters (25-for-44) and finished at 52 percent (27-for-52).
Fauquier, conversely, struggled without Lantz.
"One of the best shooters in the district." Patterson said. "You know there's not going to be as [many] 3s when he's not in there."
The Falcons made only 13 field goals on 53 attempts (25 percent), including only 4 of 17 3-point attempts (24 percent).
"Caleb lights us up every game, but … we played well regardless of who they had," said Frazer, whose Eagles have played a lot games this season without their star — Colbert — due to injury.
The Eagles also played without some key players Friday. Wyatt Teller missed the game while preparing for the US Army All American Bowl football game in Texas, while Patterson did not start as he normally does.
Patterson still finished with 17 points, while Colbert had 16 and C.J. Lindsay led the Eagles with 20.
"He was on fire," Colbert said of Lindsay. "Tonight he just went off."
Lindsay made all four of his 3-point attempts to help the Eagles finish 8-for-17 from beyond the arc.
"He did a heck of a job hitting that open shot time after time," Brizzi said. "Last time we played he wasn't in the game" often.
Liberty started the game 8-for-13 (62 percent) on 3-point attempts, which helped build a 34-point lead.
"I think we got some confidence tonight," Frazer said. Colbert "can't score 60 points a game. We're going to need those other guys to step up."
Armend Krasniqi added six points and six rebounds for Liberty, while Colbert had nine rebounds and six assists, and Lindsay had five rebounds, two blocks and two steals.
Liberty out-rebounded Fauquier, 40-22, and had only 13 turnovers, four of which came on offensive fouls.
While the Eagles had three double-digit scorers, the Falcons had none. Leif Heltzel finished with eight points, while Dillon Tapscott and Jeremiah Blackwell had seven each. Jay Jay Roberts and Lareco Robinson had four rebounds each while Tapscott had three assists.
"But they'll be back in the thick of" the district race, Frazer said. "And they'll be ready for us at Fauquier" on Jan. 25.