Cameron Burist said his team has a nasty habit of starting slowly. So he made sure that once Liberty got the lead Friday, it didn’t lose it.
Burist drilled a corner 3-pointer with time expiring in the second quarter to give the Patriots’ boys basketball team its first lead since 1-0. It helped Liberty erased an 11-point deficit in a three-minute span, and the Patriots didn’t trail the rest of the way in an 82-62 road victory at Silverado.
“I knew we needed it,” Burist said. “I knew if we got the lead once, we wouldn’t give it back.”
Burist was key in completing the Patriots’ (11-7, 3-1 Southeast League) comeback. After his 3-pointer gave Liberty the 40-39 halftime lead, he scored the first two field goals of the third quarter to set the tone. He scored 16 points in the middle two quarters, and finished with 20 points.
It was a necessary spark, as Silverado (10-9, 2-2) came out hot. The Skyhawks scored a big league upset over No. 5 Coronado last week, and looked poised to knock off Liberty after a 25-19 first quarter where seemingly everything they shot fell in the hoop.
But as hot as they were in the first, they were equally as cold the rest of the game. They made 10 field goals in the first quarter, and 12 the rest of the game. Martell Williams led the Skyhawks with 22 points and seven rebounds.
“Every time we play Silverado, or most importantly anybody in our league, it’s always kind of a rivalry, the kids get up for it, so I think our emotions were pretty high to start,” Liberty coach Stefan Berg said. “We just had to settle down, emotions were running high and all that, and the kids responded well.”
No Liberty game is complete without a standout performance from sophomore sensation Julian Strawther. He did it in a different way Thursday, shooting 6-for-10 on 2-pointers and missing his four 3-point tries. But he was 15-for-17 on foul shots and finished with a game-high 27 points.
“He’s just a special player and he’s put a lot of time and effort in,” Berg said. “He just continues to grow, year after year.”