Liberty boys top rival Mansfield
For too many years, North Penn-Liberty fans sat through loss after loss in the boys basketball rivalry against North Penn-Mansfield.
Oh, how the tables have turned.
Liberty got off to a torrid start, leading by 12, and never let the lead back into single digits as it rolled over Mansfield, 72-55, Friday night.
“Being friends with (Mansfield players) and always talking about who is going to beat who, it’s awesome to beat your pals,” Mountie guard Noah Spencer said.
Spencer, who led all scorers with 25 points, set the tone early on both ends for Liberty with his tireless pace and work ethic.
“Noah’s a rhythm player. He always has been,” Liberty coach Brian Litzelman said. “If he can see a few drop early, he’s going to be on and then he will dish out to our shooters and things will open up.”
That’s exactly what happened Friday night. From the opening tip it seemed like the court was tilting downhill for Spencer as he attacked the rim with abandon, yet always seemed to make the right play, whether it was a dump off for a Brandon Thompson bucket or a kick out for a Colton Litzelman 3, Spencer was in control from the start. By the time Mansfield could catch its breath, it was down double digits against a veteran Mountie squad which is looking to improve from a season ago. Despite capturing their first NTL title in decades last year, the Mounties feel like they didn’t play their best basketball down the stretch and they know last year’s success has put a target on their back.
“Teams want to knock us off. They don’t want us to win two NTL small school titles in a row,” said Litzelman. “I would be trying to do the same thing if I were them.”
It was a complete effort from Liberty. In the first half especially, the defense was superb. The Mounties knew they would have to limit freshman 20-point-per-game scorer Karson Dominick, and they did. Dominick had only three points at the break before finishing with 14 points and 17 rebounds. Liberty hounded the guard and he never had an easy basket.
“We wanted to make sure we had bodies on him all night,” Litzelman said. “We didn’t want him to have clean looks and easy shots. He’s going to be a great player.”
Mansfield regrouped after losing the first quarter, 17-5, and showed some promise. Sophomore Brody Burleigh fought hard inside and had 15 points. Senior guard Alex Stein had 17, and effort cut a 20-point halftime deficit to 14 midway through the third quarter.
Liberty had the answer, though, and a quick 6-0 run, capped off by a Brandon Thompson dunk in transition off a Spencer pass, put the game out of reach once more.
North Penn-Liberty 72, North Penn-Mansfield 55
Colton Litzelman 4 1-2 12, Noah Spencer 10 4-10 25, Koleton Roupp 2 1-2 7, Derek Litzelman 2 0-0 5, Noah Sheddon 2 0-2 5, Brandon Thompson 6 2-4 14, Kevin Alexander 2 0-0 4. Totals 28 8-20 72.
Sam Lawrence 2 3-3 7, Brody Burleigh 6 3-8 15, Alex Stein 7 2-3 17, Eli Shaw 1 0-0 2, Karson Dominick 5 2-4 14, Curtis Craig 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 3-10 55.
NPL 17 22 19 14-72
NPM 5 14 19 17-55
3-pointers: NPL 8 (C. Litzelman 3, Roupp 2, Spencer, D. Litzelman, Sheddon). NPM 3 (Dominick 2, Stein)
Records: North Penn-Liberty 4-0. North Penn-Mansfield 0-3.