Costly penalty puts Liberty-Eylau over Center in pre-Christmas game

With only a few days to go before Christmas, the Center Roughriders played host to the Liberty-Eylau Leopards. Unfortunately for the Riders, the Leopards refused to offer up the Christmas gift of a home victory before the holidays. Center fought hard throughout this tightly contested ball game, but a late penalty sealed their fate.

Liberty-Eylau kicked things off by winning the opening toss. Immediately after the tip-off, Liberty scored a quick layup taking a 2-0 lead.

Center Roughrider Jayden Hicks added one-point after being fouled and after a missed shot by the Leopards, Hicks shot a mid-range jumper making the score 3-2 with 5:30 remaining in the first period. Two Liberty-Eylau free throws gave the Leopards the lead once more. Following the free throws, Zac Smith passed the ball to Hicks, allowing him to score an easy layup. Liberty responded with their own basket with 2:30 left.

On the other end of the court, Devon Robinson passed the ball to Hicks for an open mid-range jumper making the score 8-7, Liberty-Eylau. Following the basket from Hicks, the Leopards quickly inbounded the ball to get a layup with only one minute remaining in the first period. The Leopards were given two free throws following a foul. The shooter hit both bringing the score at the end of the first quarter 11-7, Liberty-Eylau.

The Roughriders would turn things around in a big way to start the second quarter of play. Center went on a 16-point tear over the Leopards before Liberty-Eylau managed to score again. Center had now regained their lead and then some with the score sitting at 23-13.

By the time the second quarter had ended, the Riders had stood tall defensively only allowing four points to be scored against them. Center also shined offensively by adding 22 points to their total. Hicks continued to play phenomenally well, and Douglas Flournoy, JaKerrion Watson, and Devon Robinson each showed up on big plays for Center before the half. Heading to the locker room, the Roughriders lead the Leopards 29-15.

If the second quarter belonged to the Roughriders, then the third certainly belonged to the Leopards. Liberty held the Riders to only seven points while scoring 20 of their own. The Leopard shot well from the free throw line during this quarter. Center held on to their lead at 36-35, but they had lost valuable momentum heading into the final quarter of play.

The two competing teams were evenly matched in the fourth quarter. Neither could gain a firm advantage over the other. Down by three late in the fourth, the Leopards shot a clutch three-pointer to tie the game 52-52. Hicks shot a mid-range jumper to pull ahead 54-52 with 1:15 left.

Immediately after, Liberty scored a layup bringing the score to 54-54. Following the basket from Liberty, the Roughriders decided to call a timeout with fifty seconds remaining. After the timeout, JaKerrion Watson passed the ball to Robinson for a wide-open layup 56-54. Liberty decided to take one of their timeouts with thirty seconds on the clock.

Following the timeout, Liberty attempted to inbound the ball, but it was tipped by Hicks. The ball ended up going out of bounds on Hicks, making it Liberty’s ball with eleven seconds left. After that, Liberty quickly inbounded the ball and scored a floater making it 56-56 with only two seconds remaining. It was at this point that the Roughriders committed a fatal error. They called a timeout but had none remaining.

his costly mistake resulted in a technical foul for excessive timeouts. Liberty received two free throws and possession of the ball. To Center’s dismay, both free throws were made making the score 58-56, Liberty-Eylau with two seconds left. Following the free throws, Liberty inbounded the ball and the final buzzer sounded with the Leopards reigning victorious.

Center played well throughout this contest. It truly is unfortunate that a mental mistake in the last few seconds of play ended what had been an exciting ball game.

The Roughriders did not have long to dwell on this loss with Christmas hot on its heels, and just a few days later from Dec. 27-29, the Center boys headed to Fort Worth to participate in the Whataburger Basketball Tournament.