Ray Brewer and Case Keefer look over the high school basketball playoff picture, and debate whether any major upsets will occur and which teams would be most likely to pull them off.
When your team’s best player goes to the bench with foul trouble in the fourth quarter of a close playoff game, that’s reason for concern.
But for Liberty High tonight in the Sunrise Regional basketball quarterfinals, that’s when the Patriots put the game away against visiting Las Vegas.
Julian Strawther, who in addition to being Liberty’s top player is also arguably the area’s best, had a great seat from the bench as his team pulled away for the 82-70 win.
Cameron Burist, who has combined all season with Strawther for one of the area’s best one-two scoring punch, finished with more than 30. And junior post Terrance Marigney scored 12 of his 14 points in the final quarter to help Liberty reach Thursday’s Sunrise semifinals against Canyon Springs.
“When one of us has a bad night, we all have to come together and play hard,” Marigney said.
The game was tied 41-all at halftime, but Liberty started to slowly pull away in the second half. Whenever it needed a big bucket, Burist delivered.
“Julian gets a lot of publicity and he’s a special player,” Liberty coach Stefan Berg said. “Cameron is a special player, too. ... The kids just respond off each other and go out there and play.”
At the beginning of the season, two-time defending Sunrise champion Coronado was considered the favorite to win the region. But Liberty has beaten them twice already this season — and that’s not by accident.
The Patriots, after all, have Strawther, a five-star recruiting prospect. They also have Burist and Marigney.
Only one lower-seeded team won in the Sunrise, and that lower seed — you can argue — is the tournament favorite. Coronado, which fell to the No. 3 seed from the Southeast League on a tie-breaker, defeated host Eldorado 66-56 behind a game-high 28 points from Jaden Hardy.
TC Comeaux added 14 points for the Cougars and Pat Simms had 11. Tyrell Hunt had 13 rebounds.
No. 1 seeds Foothill and Canyon Springs each won by double digits. Kevin Legardy scored more than 30 points for Canyon Springs in a 95-79 win against Silverado, and Jace Roquemore and Mike Shaw scored 17 apiece for Foothill in a 75-65 win against Rancho.
Thursday’s semifinals are Foothill vs. Coronado and Liberty vs. Canyon Springs.