COLORADO SPRINGS — In a game that was consistently back and forth, the Doherty boys basketball had just enough to edge Liberty on Thursday night.
Grasping onto a 38-35 lead at the end of the third quarter, the Spartans, ranked No. 9 in Class 5A, held off Liberty 57-54.
In such a close game, it was free throws that made an impact. Doherty made 9-of-15 shots from the line, while the Lancers made 15-of-18.
"I don't think that both teams played well, just at times," Doherty coach Eric Steinert said. "But when the game did get tough, we played our best and I'm proud of our guys for that."
Doherty was led by senior Kyrele Benford, who scored a vital 18 points even though he was sick.
"He was throwing up all of half time and came out and played one of his best halves of basketball," Steinert said. “Defensively he was locked in and he didn't come out even when he was sick, and that is a special thing."
Doherty was also helped by junior Alijah Bates, who supplied 12 points, and seniors Joe golden and Josh Walker, who both provided 10 points.
It was a five-point game or closer throughout the final quarter. Liberty surged back with a jump shot by senior Kyle Bohuslavsky, and Moz Doria drove in a layup in the final minutes of the game.
However, Doherty's Bates scored the final bucket with a monumental dunk and eventual game-winning basket within the last seconds of the game.
The Lancers had a thrilling drive of eight points within the last few minutes thanks to shots made by Doria, Jacob Burns, and Bohuslavsky. Doria led Liberty with 28 points. Despite the impressive numbers put up by Liberty, missed rebounds and turnovers proved to be the difference-maker in a well-fought battle.
With Doherty beating Liberty for the second time in a month, the Spartans will need to keep this momentum as they play league games against Coronado and Pine Creek in the next week.
"Close games like these have value for playoffs because everyone gives you their best shot," Steinert said. "And playing games like these that are tough against good teams can help us get better prepared for that."