By ANGELO VELOTTA
For the Star Beacon
Asim Pleas had a rather eventful final two minutes in Liberty’s 55-52 victory over Jefferson at Falcon Gymnasium on Friday night.
With the score knotted, 46-46, Pleas took an assist from John Helms following a steal and scored to put the Leopards on top, 48-46, with 1:59 to play.
After Jacob Adams put Jefferson ahead, 49-48, with a conventional three-point play, Pleas assisted Cameron Clark to shift the lead back to Liberty’s hands at 50-49. With 16.3 seconds remaining, Pleas connected on a pair of free throws to extend that advantage to 54-51.
“We lost a lot of close ones at the end, we’ve got to finish them out,” Pleas said. “I had to make a play for the team. I had a quiet third quarter so I had to have a big fourth.”
Each team added a free throw in the waning seconds.
“We’ve lost five games inside the last 30 seconds,” Liberty coach Dan Bubon said. “We could be a 12-win team.
“We did better, they are young kids.”
Liberty (9-9, 5-4 in All-American Conference) took an 11-9 lead at the end of the first period as the Falcons could not get their scoring attempts to fall.
The Leopards got some separation in the second quarter with some solid outside shooting.
The Falcons (5-12, 3-8) came back, though, and ended the second quarter with four straight points to gain some momentum, but trailed, 27-20, at the break.
Jefferson picked up the pace in the second half, using a faster offense, quick passing and a tougher defense to take a 32-31 lead.
“The guys did a good job making the right pass, down nine, (we have) a lot of athletes on our team,” Jefferson coach Jeremy Huber said.
Freshman Jacob Adams scored a game-high 21 points to go along with a game-high nine rebounds.
“Jacob Adams had a great game, he continues to grow and maintain poise,” Huber said.
With 47 seconds left in the third quarter, Jacob Hamilton had a quick steal for the Falcons, drove down on the left side and scored on a layup with his back to the rim and the Falcons held a 36-34 lead heading into the fourth period.
“We can pressure at times,” Bubon said. “When you pressure you have to convert and we left them in the game.
“They made some adjustments and we didn’t score.”
Pleas led the way for Liberty with 17 points, five rebounds a steal and three assists. David Hight added 15 points, six rebounds and a team-high of four steals. Clark scored 8 points and had six rebounds.
“Give Liberty credit (in making their free throws),” Huber said.
In addition to Adams’ big game for the Falcons, senior guard Troy Bloom scored nine points, Brett Powers scored 12 points.
Velotta is a freelance writer from Concord Township.