Liberty's boys basketball season will not go into the history books as aesthetically pleasing.
It will not be described as dominant. Not high-flying, not high-scoring, not run-and-gun.
But then, none of that matters to the Patriots, who used another big fourth quarter to take down Independence 54-43 at home Wednesday night and secure at least a share of the Southwest Yosemite League title.
"That's what we do; we've been grinding teams up all year," said senior Bray Barnes, who had seven points and 10 rebounds. "Teams can be as athletic as they want, but if they can't finish games and make tough plays, they won't beat us."
Liberty (19-6, 7-2 SWYL) finishes the regular season at home Friday against Centennial. If the Patriots win, they'll own the outright title. If they lose, Stockdale (6-3 SWYL) would share the balanced league's title if it beats Bakersfield (5-4).
"This is the best league I've seen since I've been following basketball here the last 14 or 15 years," Liberty coach A.J. Shearon said. "So getting part of the title means a lot. We're definitely not satisfied -- we want the whole thing -- but this is a big accomplishment."
Independence (12-11, 4-5) nearly spoiled the party. The Falcons used a 15-5 edge in the second quarter to take a 26-22 halftime lead, and they stretched that cushion to as many as eight points in the third quarter.
But Liberty, as it did in league victories against Bakersfield (twice) and Stockdale, kept coming up with big shots.
Kyle Ferreira, who finished with 21 points, hit a 3-pointer to bring Liberty within 33-32 in the third, then gave the Patriots the lead for good at 39-38 with a 3 early in the fourth.
"He's really, really good," Shearon said. "You hear pundits talk about the best player in town, and he doesn't get mentioned a lot, but we've yet to be in a big game where he hasn't played like that."
Ryan Cheney, another senior, followed Ferreira's go-ahead shot with a 3-pointer, and Braylin Scott scored six of his 10 points in the fourth quarter, including a floater off of a spin move into the paint that gave Liberty a 50-41 lead with two minutes left. "The guys in this program really want to maximize their opportunities," Shearon said. "When they see things going the wrong way, they stay positive, and as a coach, that's all you can ask for."
Isaac Clark finished with 19 points for Independence, but the Falcons shot just 33 percent from the floor, and Liberty won the rebounding battle 44-26.
"Rebounding is a skill, just like shooting or passing, and we work on it a lot," Shearon said.
Now, with a win Friday, Liberty can expect a top-two seed in the Central Section Division I playoff bracket, which is released Saturday.
Oh, and winning the rest of that SWYL title? Now that would be one way to remember this season.
"If we could do that, it would make this feel like nothing it would be so big," Barnes said. "We don't want to share."