Higley Gets Past Liberty

by Justin Vargas | Posted on Saturday, December 30th, 2017

Thursday would bring in an intriguing match-up for the Liberty Lions (9-6), winners of 7 of their last 9 contests, taking on an incredibly talented and much bigger Higley Knights (7-5) team.  Liberty came into the contest riding their high scoring backcourt of 6-foot-1 junior Josh Ursery and 5-foot-10 junior guard Jacob Edahl.  Higley would be armed with undeniably the most talented frontcourt in the state with 6-foot-9 sophomore Jason Harris and 6-foot-10 sophomore Shon Robinson.

Right from the opening tip Robinson would make his elite presence felt, getting a two-handed slam dunk to set the tone early.  He would follow it up with back-to-back 3’s to get Higley out to an 8-0 run to start the game.  Higley’s length looked to just be too much inside early, as they solidified their early dominance by connecting on 3 of their first 4 attempted 3-pointers of the game.

However, Liberty would answer as Edahl connected on back-to-back treys of his own to try and keep the Lions within striking distance.  But Harris would answer with a grown man put-back dunk to make it 19-12 in Higley’s favor with 4 minutes to go in the opening quarter, as the game was out to a fast and entertaining pace.

Liberty’s 6-foot-5 sophomore wing Jacob Patterson would get an and-1 transition lay-up to go to pull his team to within 4.  They would follow it up with back-to-back 3-balls by the 6-foot-5 sharpshooting senior forward Connor Ray to give the Lions their first lead of the game with 2 and a half minutes left in the first.  Liberty was absolutely lights out from deep in the last 5 minutes or so in the first quarter, however the refs would count a Robinson put-back that looked to be still in his hand at the buzzer.  Nevertheless, the bucket would bring Higley to within 1 to end the quarter.

Liberty would continue with their red-hot shooting ways to start the 2nd quarter, as they would open up with a 7-0 run to push their lead to 8.  Ray was just lights out, going 5-for-6 from behind the arc in the first half.  However, Higley would prove that they too could party downtown, as their 6-foot-1 sophomore guard Jordan Flowers would connect on his 3rd deep ball of the half, igniting a 11-2 run of their own to give them a 43-42 lead with 2 minutes left in the half.  Robinson’s lay-up with a minute left would give Higley a 50-48 advantage going into the half.

Both teams would come out going back and forth to open the second half, as the fast pace continued as Ray, Ursery and Edahl would all hit a 3 to keep Higley second-guessing their defensive scheme.  However, Robinson and Harris would continue to be horse’s for Higley to keep them afloat.  With 2 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, Higley would go on a 9-2 run to take a 72-63 lead.  Flowers would connect on his 5th 3-pointer just a minute later to stretch the lead to 14.  Just before the buzzer, Harris would drive it down the gut of the Lions' defense and finish with an impressive one-hand slam dunk to send his team into the final quarter up by 15 points.

Higley’s length simply got the best of Liberty later in the 2nd half, as Liberty started to lose a little bit of their legs and their shooting cooled due to the fatigue.  Liberty would fight their heart out but just didn’t have enough to stick with the Knights down the stretch, as Higley would cruise in the 4th quarter to a 107-86 win.

Robinson would lead all scorers with 36, while Harris would pitch in 27 of his own.

Edahl would lead Liberty in scoring with 26, as Ray would pitch in an impressive 23-point performance.  Ursery would struggle from the field at times, but still found a way to pitch in 19.

Notes:  I was so impressed with the twin towers (Robinson and Harris) from Higley.  Them boys are the real deal!  They are in the midst of building something special with those two super sophomores.  Hopefully they can keep it intact.  They are both big-time prospects . . .

Jacob Edahl is as tough as they come.  The undersized guard has no fear and will take it to anyone on the court.  His stroke from the outside is legit.  As impressive as his shot is, he doesn’t even have the best 3-point shot on the team.  That title belongs to Connor Ray, who I would personally take over any player in the state in a 3-point contest.

Josh Ursery is special.  His athleticism is at a high-major level and he does not back down from anyone.  For a good chunk of the game he was guarding Jason Harris, who he was giving up 7 inches and 50+ pounds and not once did he backdown.  Not only would he do his best to contain that beast inside, he challenged two dunk attempts of Harris’, and while both ended in body fouls, he got enough of the ball to no allow it to be an and-1.  Coach Mark Wood gives him the green light and he does not shy away from the shots.

Liberty is still playing without one of their best players, 6-foot-5 senior forward Quentin Guliford (Montana State signee).  His length, athleticism and toughness will be the final ingredient in a possible championship recipe for the Lions.  They will be right in the mix with the likes of Sunnyslope and Deer Valley.

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