Liberty-Eylau Outlasts Kilgore in OT + Advances to Regional Tournament
LONGVIEW -- It might not have been the way Liberty-Eylau coach Craig Collvins drew it up, but his team is headed to regionals for the fourth time in six years.
Liberty-Eylau punched its ticket to this weekend's regional tournament with a hard-fought, 55-52 overtime win over Kilgore on Tuesday in a Class 3A Region II quarterfinal from the Pirate Center at Pine Tree High School.
The Leopards (14-13), who finished third in 13-3A, will face No. 2 Dallas Madison at 8 p.m. Friday at Texas A&M-Commerce in one regional semifinal. Kilgore finished its season at 16-15.
Liberty-Eylau is no stranger to regionals, but this year's path was one less traveled.
"With all the adversity and stuff we've had ... we haven't had all our players healthy this year, we had four guys fail," Collvins said. "To have all that and still come out third place in your district and be one of those last third-place teams to probably go to regionals, it's just amazing what these kids have accomplished."
Rashaan Donelson led Liberty-Eylau with 14 points, while Kwan Curry added 13 points and nine rebounds. Davion Hall contributed 10 points, nine boards, three assists and two steals.
Kilgore was led by sophomore Nick Orange, who finished with 18 points and nine rebounds. Xaviar Gaona followed with 11 points, while leading scorer Trey Conrod was held to just nine points on the night.
"We knew (Conrod) was their best player, we'd watched him on film," Collvins said. "We knew that if he got going, the ballgame could be different."
Kilgore kept the game close throughout by burying 10 3-pointers on the night, which nearly cost a Liberty-Eylau squad determined to control the paint defensively.
"I think that he was partially because of the defense we played," Collvins said. "We zoned behind the one guy we were guarding and there wasn't much room to get the ball inside, and they had to take a lot of (3-pointers)."
Liberty-Eylau scored the first five points of overtime to go up 51-46, before Gaona buried a 3-pointer at the other end to make it 51-49 with 36 seconds remaining.
Kilgore came up empty on its next two trips, while the Leopards' duo of Donelson and Javan Rigsby sank 4-of-5 free throws down the stretch to seal it.
Hall put Liberty-Eylau in front 43-41 with 2:08 remaining in regulation when he stepped in front of a Kilgore pass and raced the other way for a breakaway dunk.
Orange responded with a bucket at the other end to tie it once more, before Trey Monroe regained the lead for the Leopards with a putback that made it 45-43 with 1:30 remaining in the fourth.
Then after a Liberty-Eylau turnover, Hector Peralez drained a 3 to give Kilgore a 46-45 lead with 36 seconds remaining. Rigsby was fouled on the ensuing possession, and made 1-of-2 foul shots to tie it up with 20.8 seconds to go.
Kilgore had a chance for the win in regulation, but its shot attempt at the buzzer fell short.
Boys Class 3A Region III Quarterfinal
At Pirate Center, Longview
Liberty-Eylau 55, Kilgore 52 (OT)
Liberty-Eylau 14 9 11 12 9 -- 55
Kilgore 10 9 15 12 6 -- 52
LIBERTY-EYLAU--Rashaan Donelson, 14; Kwan Curry, 13; Davion Hall, 10; P.J. Muldrew, 8; Javan Rigsby, 8; Trey Monroe, 2.
KILGORE--Nick Orange, 18; Xaviar Gaona, 11; Trey Conrod, 9; Alvin Davis, 6; Hector Peralez, 6; Kevrin Justice, 2.
RECORDS--Liberty-Eylau 14-13; Kilgore 16-15.