Lee, Liberty control North Carroll, 72-65

January 18, 1996|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

James Lee scored a team-high 24 points and sparked a second-half rally that helped Liberty take control, and the host Lions held off a late North Carroll surge for a 72-65 victory last night.

Lee said that, because he's a senior, he wanted to help Liberty (5-4, 1-1 in County, 1-1 in CMC) make a strong showing against North Carroll (2-8, 0-1, 0-5) and show his teammate how they could be a force in Carroll County this season.

He fulfilled his wish with a number of timely baskets. Lee scored eight points to spark a 14-4 run for Liberty in the first part of the third quarter that stretched his team's lead to 18.

His driving and passing also helped Liberty come up with 36 free throws while North Carroll had only nine -- and made one.

"I can get out on the break quickly if they get it to me," said Lee. "Two or three dribbles, and I'm upcourt."

Lee, the team's top scorer, also needed to help because the Lions were without second-leading scorer Tyrone Ellis. The senior was held out of the game for disciplinary reasons.

Daryl Knight (22 points) also sparked the Lions. The wing made several outside shots -- including three three-pointers -- and hit some late free throws.

Luke Vriezen (10 points) and Frank Campanella also helped. Campanella made several strong outlet passes to free up Lee, Knight or others for easy shots.

But North Carroll fought back. Jason Gelb (game-high 29 points) kept the Panthers in the game by scoring 14 points in the first quarter and 19 in the half, but Liberty held a 37-27 lead at the break.

Gelb and Bruce Wright (20 points) sparked the Panthers' second-half runs. They combined to score eight in the final three minutes of the third quarter to slice an 18-point lead to seven.

But it was Wright who keyed North Carroll's run. Trailing by 68-53 with 3:05 left, Wright hit a jumper and a three-pointer. He then fed Gelb for a short shot to cut the lead to 68-62 with 1:27 left.

With 49 seconds left, Wright connected on a three-pointer from deep in the right corner to make it 69-65, but that's as close as North Carroll came.

"They had some pushes at us," said Liberty coach Scott Kohr. "We closed it down, though."

Defense helped the Lions -- especially against Gelb. Liberty made it tough for North Carroll to find Gelb in the second half. The Lions threw waves of players at him, sometimes triple-teaming Gelb and limiting his good shots.

North Carroll coach Troy Warehime liked his team's late comeback, but said they needed more than that.

"We played a pretty good fourth quarter, but why put ourselves in that position?" asked Warehime.

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