ARGYLE — The Liberty Warriors came up with a furious rally in the Denton Summer Shootout, but the comeback fell one shot short.
Liberty stormed back from a 10-point deficit, but then lost to the Oklahoma Spirits, 41-39, on Saturday evening in Argyle Gym 1.
“I was pleased with the way the kids came back in the second half and put ourselves in a position to win the game,” Liberty coach Richard Scofield said.
The loss kept Liberty winless in the tournament and knocked it into the fourth seed from Pool E, setting up a cross-town showdown with the North Texas Wildcats from Argyle in the consolation bracket later Saturday .
Liberty had one chance to take the lead in the closing seconds of the game against the Spirits and then another chance to tie, but both came up for naught.
With the Warriors down 39-38, Liberty had the ball and a chance to go ahead. But Spirits forward Nate Martin picked off a pass from Warriors' guard Walt Shaffer and then quickly passed to teammate Andy Wilson as his momentum carried him out of bounds. Wilson was fouled and knocked down both free throws to push the lead to three.
The Warriors held the ball for the last shot, and guard Bryan McBroom nearly turned Martin from hero to goat, when he head-faked the forward into the air from beyond the arc and drew a three-shot foul with 0.9 seconds left in the game. However, McBroom missed the first free throw.
After making his second, he intentionally missed the third only to have the Spirits snare the rebound to end the game.
The Spirits owned the beginning of the game, racing out to a 14-4 lead and forcing Scofield to pull all five of his starters to shake up his team.
“We just didn't get into it soon enough at the first of the ball game, and we let them run away from us early,' Scofield said.
In the first half, the Warriors couldn't find a way to stop Brent Friday, who matched their 16 first half points to push the Spirits to a 22-16 edge at the half. He hit 6-of-11 field goals before the intermission.
McBroom knocked down a couple of 3-pointers in the first half to help Liberty hang around.
The Warriors then stole the momentum in the second half, when Friday started suffering leg cramps and disappeared from the game with Wil Scofield clamping down on him defensively.
Friday didn't score in the second half, finishing with 16 points and five steals.
“The first thing we had to do is stop 31 [Friday],” coach Scofield said.
Brandon Grady scored five straight for Liberty coming out of the half, and then Schaffer added six of his team-high 10 points and frustrated the Spirits with four of his six steals to propel Liberty right back into the game.
With Friday taken out of the game, the rest of the Spirits struggled to find their groove, but they were able to hold off Liberty by converting 11-of-12 free throws in the second half.
“We just need to learn from these kind of games,” he said. “We're playing select teams, and we're a school team. People say, ‘Why do you do that?' And it's so we can get better as a team and learn to play together as a team. We learned today that it would help to play early on.”
ETHAN B. SZATMARY can be reached at 940-566-6869. His e-mail address is email@example.com
Oklahoma Spirits 41, Liberty Warriors 39
Oklahoma Spirits 22 19 — 41
Liberty Warriors 16 23 — 39
Oklahoma Spirits — Brent Friday 16, Kevin Roberson 9, Andy Wilson 6, Ramon Prince 4, Nate Martin 4, Justin Robinson 2.
Liberty Warriors — Walt Schaffer 10, Bryan McBroom 7, Brandon Grady 5, Josh Hicks 6, Wil Scofield 5, Justin Else 2.