It was all about aiming high for Christian Bayne and Stockdale's boys basketball team Wednesday night, and that's not a metaphor.
The senior broke out of a shooting slump by aiming high -- literally -- and he scored 27 points to lead the Mustangs to a 60-51 home victory against Liberty, drawing the teams even in the Southwest Yosemite League race.
"I got my shot back. ... It was all about my arc," said Bayne, who canned five 3-pointers. "I wasn't shooting the ball high enough. I worked out with my trainer and my dad, they pointed it out, so all credit to them."
Bayne's second 3-pointer gave Stockdale (14-4, 2-1 SWYL) a 20-18 lead at the 5:49 mark of the second quarter -- and the Mustangs never trailed again. Robbie Purdy, who had 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Tucker Eenigenburg each followed with 3s of their own as part of a 15-2 run that gave Stockdale a double-digit lead.
"It's never safe," Bayne said. "We're always telling each other, 'It's 0-0, it's 0-0.' We always want to get the lead, go up by 10 points, 20 points, 25. People can score fast in this league."
Actually, that isn't one of Liberty's strong suits. The Patriots (14-5, 2-1), led by Kyle Ferreira's 22 points, pulled with six points on two occasions in the third quarter, but Stockdale answered on its next possession both times.
"That's our deal, and we know more about ourselves than anyone," Liberty coach A.J. Shearon said. "If we get down, it's going to be an uphill battle, because we just don't have the personnel to score a lot of points quickly."
Shearon hadn't tabulated final stats, but he said his team shot 7 for 37 in the first half from the floor. That ugly mark included several misses from close range and negated the fact that the Patriots had a big rebounding edge.
"We shot 16 more shots than them in the first half, but if you don't make them, it doesn't matter," Shearon said. "Look, if you're 7 for 37, you have no chance. We just say, 'Stockdale played well, they deserved it, and that's that.'"
Stockdale made eight 3-pointers in all, and back-to-back triples by Eenigenburg and Bayne pushed the lead out to 12 late in the third quarter. Liberty never seriously threatened down the stretch, a relief to a Mustangs team that watched Centennial rally for a 68-66 road victory at the buzzer Friday.
"We just came together," Bayne said. "We always work hard, but I think that loss made us work even harder. It motivated us, and we knew this was another big game."
Bray Barnes had 12 points and 12 rebounds for Liberty, but the Patriots never got closer than 7 in the final quarter.
Liberty and Stockdale are now tied for second place in the SWYL, one game behind 3-0 Centennial.
"We talked about it with this league," Shearon said. "If we win, celebrate for 30 minutes and move on. If we lose, be depressed for 30 minutes and then get ready for Independence on Friday."