By Bill Crosss
The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON — The house was full at the Lions’ Den Saturday night as the Liberty Christian Lions opened their home portion of the schedule with a 61-43 win over the visiting Alexandria Tigers.
Liberty started fast, opening up a 16-4 lead late in the first quarter, but Braden Warren hit a late 3 to cut the deficit to 16-7 at the end of the first quarter.
Liberty again appeared poised to run away with the game in the second quarter, going up 22-7 early on a bucket by Quincey Hyattt. But Alexandria again hung tough and took advantage of Lions’ errors to score 8 of the final 9 points in the quarter to trail 23-15 at halftime.
The Tigers were close despite turning the ball over 14 times and hitting only five shots from the field. Liberty started 6-11 in the first quarter but only hit three field goals in the second and turned the ball over seven times. “We struggled offensively in the first half, but our defense kept us in the game,” Liberty coach Jason Chappell said. “We took some ill-advised shots, but Alex did a great job of taking us out of what we wanted to do.”
The Lions opened the second half with a pressing defense and the strategy worked. After Blaize Kelly hit two free throws to cut the lead to 23-17, the Lions were able to open up a 37-24 advantage. But the Tigers would not go away and cut the double digit deficit down to single digits again at 39-32 after back to back Braden Warren 3-pointers.
DeShon Gibbs hit two free throws for a 41-32 lead before Preston Quinn made history. Quinn hit a difficult jumper on the baseline at the buzzer to score his 1,000 career point and give Liberty a 43-32 edge heading into the fourth. “That’s a great accomplishment as a player,” Chappell said. “It is a milestone, he will remember it for the rest of his life. We’re excited to add him to the 1,000th point club.”
Liberty was able to wear down the Tigers in the fourth and a comeback was not in the cards for the Tigers, who fall to 1-1. “When you turn the ball over 24 times, you’re not going to win the game,” Alexandria coach Kyle Bloom said of his team’s effort.
Liberty outscored Alexandria 18-11 in the final stanza. The Lions shot fourteen more free throws than the Tigers (25-11), hitting fourteen. The Lions were led in scoring by Quinn, who had 15 points. The Lions had a balanced effort, as Chris Nunn (12) and Ben Bowen (10) joined Quinn in double figures. Warren led Alexandria with 20 points while Layton Carroll had 11 and Kelly finished with 6.
Liberty Christian (2-0) will travel to Greenwood Christian for a Pioneer Conference game on Tuesday, Alexandria travels to Yorktown on the same night.