All right, there were too many fouls. And too many turnovers. But everything else seemed vintage Liberty basketball.
The Patriots came out with a 13-0 run and obliterated the visiting Westland Cougars 88-56 in Ohio Capital Conference Central Division action Friday night at Liberty High School.
Liberty (4-1, 4-0 OCC Central) hit six of its first eight shots, starting with a three-point goal from senior Law Jones and including two buckets each from seniors Mike DeLeon and Zach Nice, in the opening run, finishing 8 of 13 (62 percent) from the floor in the first quarter.
Liberty led 17-6 after one, and things only got better from there. Westland (1-5, 1-2) attempted to press the Patriots, which worked in forcing turnovers, but only in spurts, and it didn’t stop Liberty from increasing its lead with each quarter.
The Patriots went on a 12-5 run to open the second period, just the start of an 18-6 Liberty tear in the first five minutes of the quarter. DeLeon had another eight points during that span, including six straight on three consecutive possessions in the middle of the period.
Liberty led 35-12 with three minutes left in the half and 39-14 with a minute to play before the break, but Patriot fouls gave the Cougars six foul shots in the last minute, and the visitors made five to trim the lead back to 20, 39-19, at the half.
Fouls began to rack up in the third quarter, which helped Westland eventually trim its deficit back to 16 points, 46-30, midway through the period, but Liberty went on another 13-0 run in less than two minutes, pushing the lead to 29, 59-30, with two minutes left in the period.
The Patriots finished the quarter with a 30-point, 65-35 lead, but started the fourth quarter with a 10-4 run — with DeLeon scoring six of the 10 — to push their advantage to 36 points, 75-39, with six minutes left.
Westland fought on, trimming the lead back to 27 points, 80-53, with two minutes left, but Liberty cleared the bench and finished with an 8-3 run for the final margin.
DeLeon had an extremely consistent game, scoring nine points in the third quarter and eight in each of the other three to finish the night with a game-high 33 points for Liberty. Nice was strong as well and added 15 points for the Patriots. Junior Nate Wilke closed with eight points, while Jones and juniors Jacob Wiseman and A.J. Kullman added seven points each.
Javon Watson topped the Cougars with 17 points, while Toury Freeman added 12 for Westland.