Walkersville puts end to Liberty season

Frederick team takes off with Martin on bench

High Schools

2A West boys basketball

March 05, 2004|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Throughout the postseason, Liberty center Andrew Martin has staked his claim as a bona fide force under the basket.

In last night's Class 2A West semifinal, however, the 6-foot-7 junior spent much of his time as a harmless presence on the bench.

With its big man in foul trouble, host Liberty kept it close until late in the third quarter, when hot-shooting Walkersville took command and went on to a 72-46 win.

After Martin went to the bench with his fourth foul with 2:16 left in the third quarter, Walkersville went on a 24-5 run over the next six minutes, turning a three-point game into a rout.

"We started attacking," said Walkersville coach Bruce Zimmerman. "In the first half, we were afraid he was going to block our shots. I told our guys, `If you're afraid ... get out of the game.' We started attacking him and got him in [foul] trouble."

Said Liberty coach Steve Johnson: "We had to sit him early, and it just takes a lot away from us."

With or without Martin, Liberty (15-10) was defenseless against Walkersville's inside-out attack. Led by 6-6 forwards Brock McCollum (24 points) and Chris Hannigan (12), as well as sharp-shooting guard Luther Weedon (17), Walkersville shot 71 percent from the field in the second half and hit nine of 17 three-pointers for the game.

"They shot the ball really well tonight," said Johnson. "We got beat by a good team tonight. It's the best I've seen them play all year."

Walkersville, which has now won 16 of 17, advanced to tomorrow's regional final, where it will face either South Hagerstown or Middletown. For much of the game, however, it was Liberty (15-10) that seemed intent on extending its best season in school history.

Led by 6-4 forward Josh Vittek, Liberty led on seven occasions. When forward Dustin Walters acrobatically tipped in Justin Cunningham's missed three-pointer at the first-half buzzer, Liberty took a tie game and seemingly loads of momentum into the locker room.

Martin then dominated early in the third quarter, scoring nine of his 12 points in the first five minutes. Once he was forced to the sidelines, however, Walkersville took over.

McCollum quickly hit a 10-footer, then scored on a put-back and completed the three-point play to put the Frederick County team up by 10.

Though disappointed with the loss, Johnson continues to have high hopes for a team that will return eight of 11 players, including five who saw significant starting time.

"We're young and we're building for next year, so we're in good shape," said Johnson.

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