Beckley – Richwood and Liberty appeared headed for a shootout through the early minutes of their matchup in the New River CTC Invitational Tuesday.
Ultimately the Lumberjacks failed to supply the necessary firepower to keep up.
Led by a 13 of 16 shooting performance from Jalen Cook, Liberty shot 58 percent from the field and cruised to a 96-50 win over the Richwood at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center.
Firing from deep and connecting early, Richwood jumped out to an 8-6 lead after a deep Grant Russell 3.
The rest of the game belonged to the Raiders.
Forcing seven first-half turnovers and stealing five passes, their pressure generated easy looks in the paint.
“We watched the film and realized we could frustrate them a little bit with our press,” Liberty head coach Chad Williams said. “We made the adjustment at halftime to go to a 2-2-1 because where we weren’t feeling really healthy or as quick the 2-2-1 was a better fit to frustrate them. After that the second-half adjustment helped us gain control.”
Liberty established a 13-10 lead midway through the first quarter, one slashed when Russell canned another 3 to make it a 15-13 game.
The following two minutes saw the game come unravel for Richwood. An 8-0 Liberty run pushed the lead to 10 points before Adryan Frame snapped the skid with a layup for the Lumberjacks. The victory was short-lived with an 11-2 run spanning the first and second quarter staking the Raiders to a 34-17 advantage that grew to 48-28 at the intermission.
“We just had to figure it out,” Liberty head coach Chad Williams said. “We took them for granted a little that they weren’t going to shoot the ball that well. We made the adjustments and we were fine after that. We were a little worried about it coming in. We were down a starter and our sixth man who are both injured so they didn’t play today. It could’ve been a game where it got out of hand but we had some other kids step up. I think overall we’re pretty happy with where we’re at now.”
Cook’s contributions proved pivotal as he finished the half 8 of 9 with 18 points, tallying 28 points and 10 rebounds by the end of the game.
“He’s usually better on the defensive end than he was tonight,” Williams said. “I told him to try not to do too much and let the offense come to him. He was sick and Ethan (Williams) wasn’t feeling well either. When you’ve got somebody that’s stepping up and giving you 28 it’s easy to get everybody else around you going.”
Conner Cantley added 18 for the Riders while RaSean Simms pitched in 14. Russell led Richwood with 20 points while Trae Trivolette pitched in 12.