The Liberty and Lincoln high school competitive sport cheer teams weren’t alone in jumping and flipping during the state championship. The game’s momentum joined in as well.

Second-seed Lincoln stormed back from a 7-0 late-second-quarter deficit to stun fifth-seed Liberty, 12-11 in overtime.

“I don’t think that ending a championship game in a tie and then a tiebreaker is ideal, but we have to accept the outcome and move on,” said Liberty head coach Wendy Gilfoy.

Lincoln, who won the overtime coin flip and thus, got to choose the deciding routine, went on to secure the one overtime point, setting off a wild celebration. But the Zebras’ come-from-behind triumph actually started much earlier, with the team winning 12 of the match’s final 16 points to steal victory from the Lions’ grasps.

“We are in awe and are truly amazed by what this team has accomplished, not only yesterday, but throughout the entire stunt season,” Lincoln team officials said in a statement released by the team. “To be able to attend the state championships and make it through to day two was an amazing experience, but to then walk away with the first ever Lincoln High School state champion title was phenomenal.”

Liberty (21-4) swept the four first-quarter rounds (partner stunts) and three of the four second-quarter rounds (pyramids and tosses) to take what appeared to be a commanding 7-0 lead, but Lincoln scored the next eight points — from the fourth second-quarter round through the first fourth-quarter round (team routine) — to pull in front 8-7 early in the fourth quarter.

The two squads were deadlocked at 10 after the second of three fourth-quarter rounds and 11 at the end of the third, after Liberty secured the partner stunt point of the final regulation round. Lincoln nabbed the jumps and tumbling point, and no pyramids-and-tosses points were awarded.

“We knew they were a strong jumps-and-tumbling team, so that quarter would be a challenge. But we felt like we could still hold on with our partner stunts, and pyramids and tosses,” Gilfoy said.

Moments after the close loss, Gilfoy admitted she wasn’t sure if she completely agreed with the judging, but chose to focus on the Lions’ successful campaign, in only their second season.

Liberty shared the Bay Valley Athletic League title with Freedom High School before advancing all the way to the North Coast Section championship game, but then succumbed 13-12 to the Falcons.

The underdog Lions upset fourth-seed Woodcreek 15-7 in the state championship opening round, and defeated top-seed Santiago 13-10 to advance to the championship game.

“Every step of the way we asked them to be the best version of themselves and that is exactly what they did today and every game,” Gilfoy said. “I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

The Lions, who began the season with 21 members, figure to be a force next season, and are expected to return with all but five athletes.

“We are just going to keep building on what we have done already,” Gilfoy said.

FREEDOM

Lincoln knocked off third-seed Freedom 16-7 in the semifinals prior to edging Liberty.

Lincoln jumped out to a 9-2 lead early in the third quarter, and largely never looked back.

The Falcons (19-2) drew no closer than five points the rest of the game.

“We made a couple of critical mistakes. You have to eliminate them,” said Freedom coach Sandra Torres, who noted the team did better than expected with its tumbling, when Freedom split with Lincoln to pull within 11-6.

Lincoln led 4-1 after the first quarter, 7-2 at halftime and 9-4 at the end of three quarters, spoiling the Falcons first state tournament appearance. Freedom defeated sixth-seed Temescal Canyon 12-8 in the first round of the tournament.

Despite the loss, Torres said the Falcons should be proud. Freedom won league and North Coast Section titles its first two seasons, and figure to be a contender again next season with only four members slated to graduate, according to maxpreps.com.

“They had a great season,” Torres said. “We are proud of all their wins and hard work.”

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