By EARL WATT
• Leader & Times
Strong three-point shooting teams have had success against the Redskins so far this season, and Hays added their name to the list Friday by hitting 10 three-pointers to defeat Liberal 55-47 in Hays.
The Indians shot 50 percent from three-point range while the Redskin offense struggled to get on track until the fourth quarter.
“They obviosuly shot the ball really well,” Liberal coach Drew Gruver said. “They are a shooting team. They shoot a lot of threes. They knocked down some open shots early and they started feeling good, and that gave them confidnece to knock down other shots.”
Liberal trailed 14-9 after the first quarter and 27-19 at half. Hays continued to build a lead to 14 points, 40-26, heading in to the foruth quarter.
That’s when the Redskins rallied and cut the lead down to four with a minute to play.
The rally was sparked by Britton Abbott who finished the game with 14 points and battled in the paint for putback baskets in the fourth.
But Liberal made too many mistakes earlier in the game to overocme the deficit.
“We turned the ball over 20 times,” Gruver said. “When we turn the ball over 20 times, that’s 20 less times we hve a chance to score and gives them 20 chances to score. Turnovers, not blocking three-point shooters — that was the difference.”
But Gruver did believe his team, which is still building varsity experience, had the right effort.
“I think we competed,” he said. “We played hard. We made a run at the end. We hit some shots and forced some turnovers. We just ran out of time.”
Liberal cotinued to struggle making baskets, something that Gruver believes will get better as the seaosn progresses.
“We are going to play a lot of games,” he said. “A lot of it comes down to making smart decisions offensively. We have to continue to play defense and give our offense a chance. When you play hard good things happen. This is the first game of the WAC. We have another tough one in Garden City Tuesday. The guys know what we expect. Now we have to compete hard and get better. Our guys are not trying to lose, not trying to turn it over. They are trying to make shots, they just aren’t falling. We have to keep working. There is a lot of season left. If we keep working hard, we can win games. We will get back at it Monday, get ready for Garden.
Abbott led the team with 14 points. Andre Jackson had 12, Osvaldo Villarreal had nine, DeVondre Livingston had seven, and William Ross scored three.