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Wednesday, Feb 19 2014 10:52 PM

Liberty boys basketball clinches share of SWYL title

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Liberty High's Austin Caywood takes a shot against Independence High in front of the Liberty fans Wednesday night.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Independence High's Bram Livingston makes room to get past Liberty's Bray Barnes Wednesday night.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Liberty High's Kyle Ferreira and Independence High's DJ Reed battle for the ball Wednesday night.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Good play by Liberty High draws praise in their game against Independence High Wednesday night.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Independence High's coach Stan Davis in their game against Liberty Wednesday night.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Liberty High questions a call in their game against Independence High Wednesday night.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Independence High Julius Ntui keeps his eyes on the ball as Liberty's David Rodriguez drives to the basket in their game Wednesday night.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Independence High's Julius Ntui keeps his eyes on the ball as Liberty's David Rodriguez drives to the basket in their game Wednesday night.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Independence High's DJ Reed gets a little help from the basketball fans to slow him up is he runs up into the stands in their game against Liberty Wednesday night.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Liberty High's David Rodriguez drives to the basket as Independence High's Julius Ntui defends in their game Wednesday night.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Independence High's Issac Clark, left and Ryan Robinson, right, pressure Liberty High's Kyle Ferreira in the 1st half of their game Wednesday.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Liberty High's Bray Barnes takes a shot and Independence High's Ryan Robinson and DJ Reed defend in their game Wednesday night.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Liberty's Leonard Herring and Independence High's Kevin Larson go for the rebound in their game Wednesday night.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    The Liberty High cheerleaders show athleticism as they come out during a timeout in the 3rd period of their game with Independence High Wednesday night.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Independence High's DJ Reed takes a shot as Liberty defenders surround him in their game Wednesday night.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Late in their game Independence High's Issac Clark fouls Liberty High's Ryan Cheney in desperation Wednesday night.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Liberty High's Braylin Scott comes down with a rebound against Independence High Wednesday night.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Independence High's Issac Clark goes up for a shot against Liberty High Wednesday night.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Liberty High's Braylin Scott and Independence High's Bram Livingston battle in the 2nd half of their game.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Liberty High's Leonard Herring and Independence High's Issiah Henderson battle for the ball in their basketball game Wednesday night.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Liberty High's Bray Barnes blocks out Independence High's Ntui Ojong and comes down with a rebound in their game Wednesday night.

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BY ZACH EWING Californian staff writer zewing@bakersfield.com

Liberty's boys basketball season will not go into the history books as aesthetically pleasing.

It will not be described as dominant. Not high-flying, not high-scoring, not run-and-gun.

But then, none of that matters to the Patriots, who used another big fourth quarter to take down Independence 54-43 at home Wednesday night and secure at least a share of the Southwest Yosemite League title.

"That's what we do; we've been grinding teams up all year," said senior Bray Barnes, who had seven points and 10 rebounds. "Teams can be as athletic as they want, but if they can't finish games and make tough plays, they won't beat us."

Liberty (19-6, 7-2 SWYL) finishes the regular season at home Friday against Centennial. If the Patriots win, they'll own the outright title. If they lose, Stockdale (6-3 SWYL) would share the balanced league's title if it beats Bakersfield (5-4).

"This is the best league I've seen since I've been following basketball here the last 14 or 15 years," Liberty coach A.J. Shearon said. "So getting part of the title means a lot. We're definitely not satisfied -- we want the whole thing -- but this is a big accomplishment."

Independence (12-11, 4-5) nearly spoiled the party. The Falcons used a 15-5 edge in the second quarter to take a 26-22 halftime lead, and they stretched that cushion to as many as eight points in the third quarter.

But Liberty, as it did in league victories against Bakersfield (twice) and Stockdale, kept coming up with big shots.

Kyle Ferreira, who finished with 21 points, hit a 3-pointer to bring Liberty within 33-32 in the third, then gave the Patriots the lead for good at 39-38 with a 3 early in the fourth.

"He's really, really good," Shearon said. "You hear pundits talk about the best player in town, and he doesn't get mentioned a lot, but we've yet to be in a big game where he hasn't played like that."

Ryan Cheney, another senior, followed Ferreira's go-ahead shot with a 3-pointer, and Braylin Scott scored six of his 10 points in the fourth quarter, including a floater off of a spin move into the paint that gave Liberty a 50-41 lead with two minutes left. "The guys in this program really want to maximize their opportunities," Shearon said. "When they see things going the wrong way, they stay positive, and as a coach, that's all you can ask for."

Isaac Clark finished with 19 points for Independence, but the Falcons shot just 33 percent from the floor, and Liberty won the rebounding battle 44-26.

"Rebounding is a skill, just like shooting or passing, and we work on it a lot," Shearon said.

Now, with a win Friday, Liberty can expect a top-two seed in the Central Section Division I playoff bracket, which is released Saturday.

Oh, and winning the rest of that SWYL title? Now that would be one way to remember this season.

"If we could do that, it would make this feel like nothing it would be so big," Barnes said. "We don't want to share."

 

 

 

 

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