WAITSBURG — For the second consecutive year, the boys Southeast B District Southern Division basketball championship was decided here.
And for the second consecutive year, the visitors from Liberty Christian took the title and spoiled the biggest Waitsburg-Prescott home game of the year.
LC used a decisive 15-6 fourth-quarter run to come from behind and defeat W-P 46-40.
"It happened exactly as I expected. It came down to the team that had the last run won," LC coach Terry Watson said.
LC faced a three-point deficit heading into the final period. The Patriots quickly erased it in 1:20 with three jumpers, including a 3-point bomb by Aaron Salzano to tie it, and a perfect high post pot by Michael Groth to extend the lead to four, 38-34.
Desperate to not let the game slip away, W-P fought for three offensive boards on the next possession. Ben Kiefel put back the third to cut the deficit to two, but another high post jumper — this time by Brett Dustin — extended the LC lead back to four, 40-36 at the 5:06 mark.
W-P had a golden opportunity to retake the lead as its defense held Liberty Christian without a point for the next three minutes. But W-P made little headway, scoring no field goals and sinking only one-of-three attempts from the charity stripe.
At 2:06, Groth took another high post entry pass and drove for an easy two to give LC a 42-37 lead.
At 1:16, Lucan Gerke brought W-P back to within striking distance by nailing a trey from the left wing. The ensuing full-court pressure turned into a near steal and breakaway by Dustin Wooderchak that would have tied the game. But LC guard Jake Siefken, who had been pick-pocketed, recovered just enough to deflect the ball from Wooderchak, who tripped and sent the ball skittering out of bounds and back to LC.
LC made good on the next try, again burying an elbow jumper from the high post to up the score to 44-40 with 35 ticks left.
W-P took the inbounds and sped down the court. W-P’s guards frantically rotated the ball around the perimeter looking for a clear shot or pass, but LC’s lightning quick Siefken jumped into the passing lane and stole the last Zach Bartlow-to-Wooderchak toss. Siefken flew to the other end and layed up for the final margin.
Brett Dustin and Cody Brockman led LC in scoring with 10 points apiece, but the eight second-half points and three assists dealt out by Groth may have been the key to the game.
"I brought (Groth) in off the bench and he hit a lot of clutch free-throw-line jump shots," Watson said. "He normally starts for us. He didn’t tonight for disciplinary reasons. We took our lumps early because of that, but he was big for us in the end."
"We’re supposed to have somebody take the high post (Groth) each time — a different guy depending on where the ball is — and we just left him all alone. That’s the difference in the game," W-P coach T.J. Scott said.
"We played scared in the last three minutes," Scott said. "No one wanted to shoot. The guys were just looking to get the ball out of their hands. Pass the ball to someone else. Let them shoot. What did we score — 16 points in the second half? It’s embarrassing. The only guy who attacked was Lucan (Gerke), but one guy can’t carry you."
Gerke finished the night with a 16-point, 10-rebound double-double.
LC climbs to 16-2 overall, 9-0 in league play, with the win. They were off Saturday and host DeSales Tuesday.
W-P fell to 5-2 in league — good for second place — 12-3 overall. They faced third place Walla Walla Valley Academy in College Place on Saturday.
LIBERTY CHRISTIAN — Salzano 2 0-0 6, Siefken 3 0-1 7, Lowry 0 0-0 0, Groth 4 0-0 8, Dustin 5 0-0 10, Brockman 5 0-0 10, Simpkins 0 0-0 0, Corrigan 2 1-2 5. Totals 21 1-3 46.
WAITSBURG-PRESCOTT — Cady 0 0-1 0, Zuger 0 0-0 0, Withers 4 0-0 8, Bartlow 2 0-0 5, Gerke 6 3-5 16, Wooderchak 2 0-1 4, Kiefel 2 1-4 5, Lehr 1 0-0 2, Brown 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 4-11 40.
Liberty Christian 9 11 11 15 — 46
Waits.-Prescott 8 16 10 6 — 40
3-point goals — LC 3 (Salzano 2, Siefken), W-P 2 (Bartlow, Gerke). Totals Fouls — LC 13, W-P 7. Fouled out — LC (Brockman). Technical fouls — none. Rebounds — LC 27 (Dustin 6), W-P 30 (Kiefel 11, Gerke 10). Turnovers — LC 15, W-P 12. Assists — LC 12 (Siefken 4), W-P 10 (Gerke 4).