by JOHN HOWLEY / sportingpumpkin.com
With Liberty Union threatening to grab the lead early in fourth, Circleville held off the Lions to notch a 46-38 win.
Circleville had a strong first quarter and led by as many as 11 points before the period ended with CHS up 20-11.
A slow second period saw the Lions clip a few points of the CHS lead and the half ended with the score at 25-19.
“Here of late we’ve had really good first quarter runs and our energy is high,” Circleville coach Cody Carpenter said. “Then whatever happens to us in the second quarter, we kind of lay off, I don’t know what it is. Liberty did a nice job of fighting back and we did a good job of weathering the storm.
“We did a nice job controlling the tempo in the fourth quarter, being disciplined with the ball and then hitting free throws down the stretch.”
The second half started out well for the Tigers with a basket from Briley Cramer and six points from Slater Search in the first two minutes to put CHS up by 11 again at 33-22. But the Tigers wouldn’t score the rest of the period and Liberty Union closed to 33-30 heading into the fourth.
A basket by Liberty Union’s Austin McClure cut the difference to one, but Drew Thornsley had the next five points for Circleville. A basket from Search put Circleville up 40-32 with two minutes left.
Liberty Union got it to five with 41 seconds left and Search scored again. A three from LU’s Landon Piccirillo made it a four-point game with 16 seconds left but Search went 4-4 at the line to close out the win for the Tigers.
“That’s something we’ve been working really hard trying to fix. There was a stretch there at the beginning of January where we’d have a lead the entire game and then in the fourth quarter, for whatever reason, we’d give it up,” Carpenter said. “That’s been the difference here lately, we’ve been able to sustain that lead.”
Search and Cramer led the Tigers with 14 points each. Search had all of his in the second half while Cramer had 12 of his in the first half.
Search also pulled down 11 rebounds as Circleville out-rebounded Liberty Union 31-22.
“The biggest key is our preparation has been really good and I think we’re finally starting to get some confidence and we’re doing the right things,” Carpenter said.
The Tigers (10-9, 6-5) have a tough couple games staring at them as they go on the road to face the top two teams in the league with games at Teays Valley Saturday and at Fairfield Union Tuesday.
“Obviously, there are some things we need to clean up and get better because we’ve got a really tough two games playing the top two teams in the league, but I know we’ll be ready,” Carpenter said.
Liberty Union (8-9, 5-7) travels to Hamilton Township Saturday afternoon.
• Jack Kline put in 31 points as Circleville won the JV game 57-51 in overtime.
Circleville 46, Liberty Union 38
Liberty Union — Slade McCloskey 1-0-2, Noah Shook 5-0-11, Cole Flanagan 1-0-3, Landon Piccirillo 4-0-10, Cooper Manson 1-0-3, Austin McClure 2-0-4, Jaden Smith 0-1-1, Luke Williams 2-0-4. Three-point goals — Shook, Flanagan, Piccirillo (2), Manson. Total — 16-42 1-2 38.
Circleville — Nolan West 2-0-5, Briley Cramer 6-1-14, Parker Kidwell 1-0-2, Drew Thornsley 1-3-5, Ian Warden 3-0-6, Slater Search 5-4-14. Three-point goals — West, Cramer. Total — 18-39 8-14 46.
Quarter scores 1 2 3 4 F
Liberty Union 11 8 11 8 38
Circleville 20 5 8 13 46