Beavers catch fire from 3-point range to race past Liberty

The Liberty boys basketball team picked a tough night to play Beaverton.

The Falcons played gamely for most of the first half of their nonleague contest against the hot-shooting Beavers on Tuesday, but they did not have enough answers as Beaverton made 11 3-pointers on the night en route to a 63-49 victory.

“The problem was on the defensive end,” Liberty coach O.J. Gulley said. “We prepared. We knew who their shooters were. We knew the guys that could beat us, and we just had some breakdowns.”

After going down 8-0 right off the bat, the Falcons (6-3) rallied to tie the contest at 15-15 midway through the second quarter.

But the Beavers (4-5), out of the Class 6A Metro League, ended the half on an 8-1 run and then knocked down four 3-pointers during the middle portion of the third quarter to create some separation.

“It seemed like we were just a teeny bit lazy on the defensive side, just not getting out to shooters,” said Koby Alvarado, who led Liberty with 16 points. “But Beaverton’s a pretty good team. If they’re open, they’ll knock down the shot.”

In the fourth, after trailing by as many as 17 points, Liberty made a late run to trim its deficit to 56-46 with about three minutes to play, but Beaverton scored the next five points to squelch any thoughts of a Falcons comeback.

“It seemed like every time there was always a breakdown on our part on the defensive end,” Gulley said. “There could be four guys battling hard, and it takes one guy not to rotate — and that’s kind of what it was tonight. We were on the outside looking in just about every play. We were on our heels all night.”

Ty Peacock and Sam Parker set the tone early on with that opening 8-0 run. Peacock, a senior forward, recorded the first five points of the game on two drives to the hoop, following up the second bucket with a free throw to complete the three-point play. Then the sharp-shooting Parker, who scored a game-high 20 points, hit the first of his six 3-pointers.

Not long after, Alvarado started going to work. Liberty’s sophomore starting point guard, Alvarado trimmed the margin to 10-8 with a 3-pointer of his own inside the final two minutes of the quarter. And he repeatedly drove to the basket in the second, knotting the game at 15-all on a pair of free throws.

“The thing we liked about tonight is that he was constantly in attack mode,” Gulley said about Alvarado, who missed much of last season after tearing the meniscus in one of his knees, which required surgery. “That’s what we always tell him: ‘You gotta attack.’

“And there’s times where he’s lazy and he’ll save himself or not attack or not get up in his defender, and I think tonight was (the) opposite. He knows we’re going to be a better team when he’s in the mode he was tonight.”

Liberty never did take the lead after that tie at 15-all, but it also did not give up, even after Beaverton drained three consecutive 3-pointers in the third quarter to go up 35-21.

Blake Walker, another member of the Falcons’ super sophomore class, helped keep his team in the mix in the second half, when he scored 14 of his 15 points.

Gulley knows that his young group, though quite talented, is going to experience some growing pains this year, even as the season progresses. The Falcons start three sophomores and two juniors and have only two seniors on the roster this season. So that means that many of the players coming off the bench also are young, such as sophomore guard Tristan Bolinger, who knocked down two 3-pointers of his own.

The Falcons are also playing a pretty challenging nonconference schedule, which includes five 6A schools. Liberty traveled to Bend over the winter break to participate in a tournament, and the team heads to Keizer tonight to take on McNary.

That has all been purposeful, according to Gulley.

“We wanted to be battle-tested. Our AD did a good job of scheduling for us this year against some tough teams,” he said. “We went to Bend over the break. That’s a good road trip for us. We’re traveling down to Salem, good road trip. We’ve got some 6As coming into our house. We think it prepares us for league.”

Tonight’s game against the Celts is Liberty’s last before heading into its Northwest Oregon Conference slate. The Falcons kick off NWOC play next Tuesday with a road matchup against St. Helens before returning home to face Parkrose next Friday.

League play could prove equally challenging for the Falcons. Sherwood, Sandy and Wilsonville were all ranked in the top 11 of Class 5A as of Wednesday afternoon, and all three teams had won at least six games heading into tonight’s contests.

“We’re excited to get there,” Gulley said about conference play. “We’re almost there, eager to see how we match up against some of our league teams. We tried to everything we can in this preseason to prepare.”

Go to top