The start of the game saw highly contrasting teams take the court. Freedom jumped out to a 12-2 lead on the strength of junior guard Nick Blount’s nine points, forcing an early Liberty timeout. After the break, the Lions clamped down defensively, closing the deficit to 12-10 at the end of the quarter.
In the second quarter, Liberty senior Justin Amaral came off the bench to provide a spark for the Lions, hustling to save an errant pass from going out of bounds, which resulted in a three-pointer for senior Aaron Meeks. Blount canned a three for the Falcons, but Amaral countered with one of his own to make the score 20-18 Freedom.
At that point, a controversial technical foul was called on Liberty’s Aaron Castillo after it appeared he was fouled by the Falcons’ Darrell Greene. But Freedom missed both free throws, giving the Lions and their fans a boost of energy and enthusiasm. The teams played evenly through the remainder of the second quarter, resulting in a 24-22 halftime score.
Following spirited performances by the varsity cheerleaders and dancers of both teams, the pace of the scoring picked up as well. Both squads distributed the ball well as the Falcons went on a 10-2 spurt to start the half before Liberty came back with its own 9-4 run. A three-pointer by Freedom’s Daniel Pereira and a bucket at the buzzer by Andrew Garner increased the Falcon lead to 49-40 heading into the final period.
At that point, the Falcons attacked the paint aggressively. Freedom drove to the basket relentlessly, resulting in Liberty’s seventh team foul of the half with more than six minutes remaining in the game. A valiant effort by the Lions’ Augiliera, Castillo and Shane Pilgrim could not overcome the parade of Falcon free throws.
Freedom’s Blount led all scorers with 20, while the Lions were paced by Augiliera’s 18.