Liberty’s boys basketball team wasted no time breaking in the nets at its home gym Friday night.
The Patriots scorched the twine in the first half, jumping to a huge lead and holding on to beat Clovis North 54-40 in their first home game of the season.
“We shot the ball really, really well early, and I think they struggled against our zone (defense) and some of our defensive switches,” Liberty coach A.J. Shearon said. “We were a pretty good team there for a little while.”
So good that the Patriots jumped to a 25-2 lead before Clovis North made its first field goal, with 1:46 left in the second quarter. By that time, senior guard Kyle Ferreira already had 10 points and Liberty was on its way to a rout.
“It was nice to play our first game at home; I think that actually made a few more of our shots fall,” said Ferreira, who finished with 17 points. “We knew beating any Clovis team would really help us in playoff seeding.”
Clovis North (4-8) isn’t likely to be a playoff factor, even with the startling credentials new coach Tony Amundsen carries. Amundsen won the past two Central Section Division I titles with Fresno-Bullard, and his Knights were 62-3 in the past three years within the section.
But the Broncos aren’t near that level yet.
“We didn’t shoot the ball very well, and we had too many turnovers,” Amundsen said. “(Liberty) is definitely in the conversation for Valley. They have a nice group that complements each other well.”
Liberty (9-4) led 32-7 at halftime and stretched the advantage to its biggest margin, 47-13, late in the third quarter.
“That’s a TRAC opponent and a Division I opponent with a coach who’s won back-to-back section titles,” Shearon said.
“Just because of the nature of the opponent, we knew it was a huge game for us, and we really wanted to play well. We just didn’t anticipate playing that well.”
Clovis North made a big dent in Liberty’s lead when both teams had reserves in the game — in fact, the Broncos scored the game’s last 17 points. But the Patriots were never in danger.
“We had some guys out there who are not used to playing, but we wanted to give those guys a shot to play in our first home game,” Shearon said.
Leonard Herring added 12 points for Liberty, and Shearon gave credit to point guard Braylin Scott, a transfer from Bakersfield High, for opening more offensive opportunities for Ferreira.
“He really takes pressure off me with ball handling, and he does a good job getting me good shots,” Ferreira said.
Liberty, which also owns a win against the TRAC’s Clovis East, Garces and Ridgeview next week before opening up Southwest Yosemite League play as one of the favorites Jan. 22.
“Our league is going to be a bloodbath,” Shearon said. “It’ll be a war every night, but I think we’re right there with everybody. We’re excited.”