As great as the Scott City run was to get a lead in the first half vs. Liberal, that was how much it hurt in the fourth quarter as the Beavers watched Liberal return the favor.
Liberal, which lost a seven-point lead in the first quarter, overcame an eight-point deficit in the final quarter to take a 40-37 win over the Beavers in Saturday’s final round of the Clarion Inn Roundball Classic.
Liberal outscored Scott City 18-7 in the pivotal fourth, taking its first lead since the first quarter when left-handed senior Jordan Mendoza hit a shot for his 13th points of the quarter, giving his team a 37-35 lead.
Parker Vulgamore tied the score on a short turnaround jumper, but Braxton Hyde buried a pair of free throws with 49 seconds to play to put his team ahead for good.
Scott City had chances after that. The Beavers got the ball back after a possession following a missed shot when Liberal couldn’t get the ball in play.
Under their own basket, Scott City got off a shot, but Hunter Yager’s attempt was too strong on the layup.
Mendoza hit 1-of-2 free throws with 16 to play, and Marshall Faurot’s 3-point attempt for the Beavers caromed left.
For Faurot, that shot was a stark contrast to his second-quarter performance, when he scored nine straight points for the Beavers as his team overcame a 12-9 deficit after one quarter to take a 20-15 halftime lead.
Scott City outscored Liberal 11-3 in the second quarter and 10-6 in the third before succumbing to Liberal’s pressure.
Coach Brian Gentry said his team’s collapse was easy to pin-point.
“We didn’t defend the dribble, and they got into the paint too easy on us, which leaves some open threes on the outside,” he said. “Unfortunately for us, it was just a complete breakdown defensively because the first three quarters we were pretty solid. The last quarter, for some reason or another, we just got lazy.”
Mendoza led the Liberal charge, hitting three treys in an 11-3 run.
Scott City hit its first field goal of the quarter at the 2:49 mark, briefly taking a 35-34 lead before Mendoza hit back-to-back two-pointers.
Mendoza led all scorers with 21 points, including his 14 in the final period.
Liberal finished 7 of 15 from behind the arc and 14 of 33 overall.
“It’s pretty depressing to take that loss because there were a lot of good things that we did,” Gentry said, “but if you don’t finish the game that way, it doesn’t matter.”
Faurot’s second-quarter show was due to a matchup he liked, Gentry said, posting up, as well as hitting a pair of threes.
“We looked for that in the fourth quarter, and for whatever reason, we didn’t throw it to him,” Gentry said. “Once we didn’t throw it to him, we almost looked like we were confused as to what we were supposed to do.
“The fourth quarter was just an all-around breakdown — mental, physical. We lost that game, and that’s hard to take.”
Faurot led the Beavers with 19 points. Jackson Lewis was next with just five points.
Scott City falls to 2-2, but Gentry said his team is fully capable of learning from this loss.
“We’ve got to be sharper. We’ve got to be mentally tough when teams make a run,” he said. “We have to understand that we need to get a closer shot.”
Scott City was just 12 of 28 from the floor, including a number of short misses from the paint.
“We got several good looks. We just missed a bunch of layups, something we’ve been struggling with all year,” Gentry said. “It’s something we have to pay attention to and try to fix.”
The Beavers will travel to Hugoton Friday for a league matchup.