After a four-game road trip to the Danville Schlarman's Thanksgiving Tournament last weekend, the Christian Liberty boys basketball team was hoping for a win on its home floor.
The Chargers found themselves trailing 55-43 to Hiawatha with 3:26 left in the game. A furious rally came up short in a 55-53 loss to the Hawks on Thursday at Grace Gym. Both teams are now 1-4 overall.
"We just didn't finish off the shots we had at the basket," said Christian Liberty coach Jed Bennett. "We didn't shoot well (19-for-60) and we made too many first-half turnovers (9) also.
"We just didn't play very well on offense. We only shot a few 3-point baskets, so most of the shots were from close range. Many of our misses were easy shots."
Hiawatha, from Kirkland, only trailed once, at 2-0 on Jesse Castro's opening basket.
The Hawks led 18-11 after the first quarter and by 10 at 29-19 with 1:45 left in the first half.
Trevor Jones hit on 2 free throws, and a 3-point shot by senior Joel Roberts, who led CLA with 17 points and 5 rebounds, cut it to 29-24 at the break.
Hiawatha led 31-28 with 6:42 left in the third quarter when it went on a 14-2 run to expand the lead to 45-30.
Justus Thompson who finished with 12 points scored 8 during the run, and Dane Snow all 6 of his points,
Hiawatha hit 9 of 16 third-quarter shots and finished at 50 percent on 23-for-46 from the field.
Bennett switched the Chargers to a half-court press. While it didn't pay off at first, it would be a factor in a big Chargers run in the fourth quarter.
"Coach changed the defense to the half-court trap," said Roberts. "We did practice it but putting into the game, well, we had to learn from it. Once we made the adjustments it started to work."
Castro (14 points) hit for a basket and 4 free throws to finish that quarter, and Lewis connected on 2 free throws to pull the Chargers within 49-38.
After Miguel Delvalle (10 points, 5 rebounds) scored with 3:26 left, Hiawatha led 55-43.
Then the trapping defense then began to pay off.
Roberts started the run with a 3. Lewis converted on a 3-point play. Roberts hit the first of 2 free throws, and Steve Ringstrand, who finished with 10 points and 15 rebounds, scored with :14 left on a turnover.
A missed free throw by Thompson and a rebound by Roberts gave the Chargers a chance to tie.
Castro drove the lane, but his shot between two players rolled off the rim as time expired.
"We haven't been in this kind of pressure situation this season," said Hiawatha coach Rob Moulton. "Most of those 9 turnovers in the fourth quarter were in the last three minutes. Christian Liberty fought to the end. It was a good effort by both teams."
"What we learned tonight," said Roberts, "is that we have to play hard from the start to end. We were pretty flat for a lot of the game."
"We came out flat but finished strong," said Bennett. "We have to play hard all the way through."