WESTERVILLE — Gahanna Lincoln started both halves well, and Liberty had an answer both times, but the Lions’ last push proved to be the difference as they made just enough plays down the stretch to notch a 47-39 Division I regional semifinal win Thursday night at Westerville South High School.
The Patriots were in a 7-0 hole midway through the first quarter before finding their form in a hurry, scoring nine straight to take a 9-7 lead they parlayed into a 13-11 edge heading into the second.
Andrew Wade cleaned up his own miss to get Liberty on the board before Tylar Foster scored inside, Henry Hinkle converted a three-point play and Cooper Davis scored inside off a nice find from Wade.
Gahanna’s Eljae Deas evened things back up with a jumper, but Davis and Trey Majizadeh scored to keep Liberty in front after one.
The Patriots still led, 22-20 at the break, but the Lions used another 7-0 run to start the second half and take a 27-22 lead with 4:42 left in the third. Sean Jones accounted for five of the early second-half points, hitting a jumper and a three-pointer before Maceo Williams got free underneath the hoop for a bucket to balloon the lead to 27-22.
Just like in the first half, though, Liberty had an answer. Hinkle stopped the bleeding with a jumper and, a couple possessions later, Davis drilled a deep three from the corner to knot things at 27 with 2:24 left in the third. Hinkle scored inside on the next trip down the floor to cap a 7-0 run and put the Patriots back on top.
Jones split a pair at the line in the final seconds of the third to give the Lions a 30-29 lead heading into the fourth before Majizadeh scored off a steal to put the Patriots back on top with 7:07 to go.
Jones converted two free throws after another strong drive, though, and Gahanna led the rest of the way.
Davis hit a runner to pull Liberty within one, 34-33 with 3:35 left, but Brendan Raymond connected on a clutch three to put the Lions up 37-33 with less than three minutes to play.
Another Davis hoop, this time a three, closed the gap to 39-36 with 1:54 left, but, with the Patriots forced to foul, Gahanna closed things out from the free throw line.
Jones and Raymond each hit both ends of one-and-ones and Simmons split a pair with 20 seconds left to smooth out the scoring summary.
Jones led all scorers with 16 points while Williams poured in 11 for the Lions.
Davis had 13 points and six boards to pace the Patriots while Hinkle and Wade capped off their senior seasons with 11 and five points, respectively.