The Freedom Falcons defeated the Liberty Lions 66-37 in the 24th annual Frank Stonebarger Invitational Basketball Tournament on Saturday, earning the school's first tournament title in its history.
It was very exciting to coach in this tournament because I'm a former Liberty Lion basketball player and played in this tournament when I was in high school, said Freedom coach Drew Torres.
The Falcons defeated Hogan High and Campolindo High in the tournament's first two rounds; then beat Mount Diablo High and Tracy High for the right to take on Liberty for the championship title. Freedom handled the team many thought would be in the finals, Campolindo, with speed and physicality, winning the game by 10.
At the end of a scrappy first half of championship-game action, the Falcons held a 25-19 lead over the Lions. But Freedom's shooters exploded in the second half, scoring 41 to Liberty's 18 and finishing with a 29-point margin of victory to take the trophy.
Nick Blount led the Falcons with 28 points, shooting 7-for-7 from three-point range and 7-for-7 from the free-throw line. This was the best shooting display by any player I've ever coached or played with, said Torres. I think only two shots nicked the rim; the rest were all net. It added a lot of momentum to our team.
The performance earned Blount tournament MVP honors. Joining their teammate as All-Tournament honorees were Daniel Pereira and Darrell Greene, who contributed 11 rebounds in the title game.
Liberty was led by Aaron Castillo, who scored 10 points and was named to the All-Tournament team along with fellow Lion Luke Chapple, who scored seven points. In their semifinal game against Tracy, the Lions were down early. But Liberty's Erin Cast came off the bench to score 14 points and Justin Amaral put nine on the board with a 3-pointer to seal the game. Liberty scored 20 points in the fourth quarter against Tracy's 12, winning 58-50.
The Falcons are currently 5-2 in their preseason and look forward to competing in the realigned BVAL starting Jan. 2. Their first league game is against Pittsburg on the Pirates' home court.
Torres is looking forward to the league's opening tipoff. I've never coached a team that has improved so much in a short amount of time, he added. We have a great group of players who've displayed great attitudes and bought into the new system that the coaching staff has implemented. I'm looking forward to seeing how we're able to compete in the new league this season.
Sandra Torres and Peter Klingsheim contributed to this story.