LIBERTY CENTER — Trent Murdock’s steal and lay-up with less than a minute remaining in the game helped stem the tide of Swanton’s second-half comeback and seal the Tigers’ 47-42 Northwest Ohio Athletic League victory Friday night in The Jungle.
Liberty Center led 29-15 at intermission, and despite an 11-2 run by the Bulldogs in the third quarter, held a 39-31 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
Swanton closed the gap to a single point twice in the final period. The first time after Justyn Bartlett’s 3-pointer with five minutes remaining.
After a putback by Evan Conrad, Josh Vance again made it a 1-point game (43-42) with a lay-up with 92 seconds remaining.
Murdock made two free throws to stretch the lead to 45-42 and then stole the ball at mid-court and drove in for the pivotal lay-up.
“That was the first time this season I saw a kid take something we talked about in the scouting report and apply it in a big situation during a game,” said Liberty Center coach Greg Badenhop. “We told the kids to watch out for that drop down pass and Trent stepped in front and made a big play for us. He was like that for us the whole game. He was just outstanding tonight.”
Murdock finished with a game-high 17 points.
Carter Burdue had maybe his best all-around game of the season, scoring 10 points and throwing eight assists. He was also among the team leaders in rebounds.
“He (Burdue) is a tremendous passer,” said Badenhop. “He is so athletic and such a dynamic playmaker. He is just now beginning to understand how good he can be.”
Liberty Center used a 9-2 run over the final 4 1/2 minutes of the first quarter to grab an 11-5 lead. The Tigers pushed the lead to22-8 with an 11-3 run to start the second quarter.
A triple by Wyatt Leatherman and a basket by Murdock, off an assist from Burdue, stretched the lead to 29-12, but Vance hit a triple with one second before halftime for the Bulldogs.
Vance, who finished with 14 points, hit another triple with a second remaining to end the third quarter and set up the wild finish.
Andrew Thorton added 9 points for Swanton, which was 15 of 39 from the field for 38%. The Bulldogs had 15 turnovers in the game — 10 in the first half.
Liberty Center was 21 of 46 from the field for 46%.
Conner Keller, filling in for Cam Krugh (sick), added 8 points for the Tigers.
“We worked the kids hard in practice this week,” said Badenhop. “We wanted to get some kind of response and this was by far the best effort we have seen from them this season. The kids gave a great effort, especially being a man down.”
Liberty Center is now 9-9 overall and 2-3 in the NWOAL. The Tigers host Paulding tonight.
Sw 5 10 16 11 — 42
LC 11 18 10 8 — 47
Swanton — Vance 4-2-0-14, Weigel 2-2-6, Betz 0-1-0-3, Bartlett 1-1-2-7, Pelland 1-0-2, Thorton 3-3-9. Totals: 11-4-8-42.
Liberty Center — Shaffer 1-0-2, Keller 4-0-8, Burdue 5-0-10, Leatherman 0-2-0-6, Conrad 2-0-4, Murdock 7-3-17. Totals: 19-2-3-47.