Glencoe, Smith upend Liberty 69-51
This just in; shooting matters in the game of basketball.
The Glencoe boys basketball team defeated Liberty 69-51 Wednesday, Jan. 10 at Glencoe High, and while the Tide were sound defensively and got a number of solid contributions from a rotation of guards off the bench, it was senior Matt Smith that stole this show.
The 6-foot-1 wing made seven three-pointers, including four in the first half en route to 21 points in the win over the Falcons.
"It was fun," said Smith after the game. "After I hit the first four, I knew it might be my night."
It was nearly halftime before he missed a shot, but despite the miss, there was no discouraging Smith on this night.
"I thought after I missed the one in the second quarter it might be over, but I came back out in the third and they got me open again, so I figured I might as well shoot 'em," he said with a chuckle.
It wasn't all Smith though, as Glencoe shot 52-percent as a team from the field, including 12 of their 20 shots from behind the arc. In addition to Smith's 21 points, they got 14 from standout guard Sam Gerber, nine — all on threes — from reserve Dylan Brauer, and eight from senior Ruben Gallardo. Strangely, on a night with little opposition from a personnel standpoint, standout post Matthew Hancock contributed little statistically. The 6-foot-5 senior was by no means bad in the game, but after getting into early foul trouble, was limited to passing from the post before seeing little action in the second half.
"I've told the guys, sometimes it's not going to be your night," said Glencoe head coach Josh McInnis. "We talk a lot about combinations, and tonight we had our best runs with (Daniel) Warner and Dylan (Brauer) in there."
"But Matt did a good job of finding guys in the second quarter, and those paint touches really got our shooters open."
Liberty, on the other hand, had trouble getting going on both sides of the ball, something head coach Brian Martin said may be something they need to address from within.
"We're struggling defensively and we don't seem to be communicating well," said Martin. "It's one thing for a team to be on fire, but when Sunset was on fire, Beaverton was on fire, Glencoe was on fire tonight, eventually you have to say, 'maybe it's us? Maybe we have some to do with that.'"
And it wasn't just on the defensive end, but the Falcons struggled offensively as well, finding fewer and fewer quality shots as the game progressed.
"At the beginning of the year we talked about how we have to play smart, and play together, and tonight we didn't do either," said Martin. "We talk about being patient and aggressive, and we seem to forget about the patient part."
Strangely, it was Liberty that had the hot start. The Falcons jumped-out to an early 8-2 lead with help from back-to-back threes from sophomore forward Tyler Rockwell. They made it 11-7 on a basket from Sam Schoch, but a late Glencoe run capped by a Sam Gerber trey to end the quarter, gave the Tide a 16-13 lead heading to the second.
Smith opened the second with his second three of the game and made two more on the way to a 30-24 halftime Tide lead. Glencoe grew the lead to 11 midway through the third and appeared on their way to an easy victory, but Liberty got back to within five with help from a couple Taylor Martin three-pointers and stayed within striking distance until the midway point of the fourth, before a series of defensive stops and a couple more Smith bombs decided the game.
While McInnis acknowledged Smith's hot-hand, he was also quick to point out his team's defensive work as a key to their success.
"Against Aloha we played a much better second half when we started switching our defenses up," said the coach. "I challenged our seniors to communicate effectively and I think we did. We got them confused and out of rhythm."
Nonetheless, Smith was the story on this night.
"My teammates kept getting me open and I just wanted to do anything I could do to help us win," he said. "It was a quality win, now I'll look forward our next game with Westview."