Schertz, Texas- In an action packed game at Clemens High School, the #3 State ranked Steele Knights were able to just come up with a few more buckets, rebounds, and key plays, that would help them outlast Clemens, 84-83 on Tuesday night.
Out of a Steele timeout, Head Coach Lonny Hubard would draw up a well executed alley-oop. Elijah Payne (Sr.) would dribble the ball sideline extended toward the baseline. While on the weakside, senior guard Kijana Love would lull his defender to sleep and come in the back door for a perfect lobbed pass that resulted in a point bank layup. That made the score 84-80.
The Buffaloes would respond with a miracle 3-pointer from the right wing. D’corrin Kirby (Sr.) would pump fake, then fading away to his right off balance, would hoist up a trey that would find the bottom of the net, making it 84-83 w/12.3 seconds to play.
Clemens would get the ball back and Gates would get a good look from the right wing for a game winning trey, but the ball would rim out straight up, hit the top of the backboard, come straight down, roll out again, hit the backboard, come back into cylinder, and then roll off to the left. Leaving the Buffs feeling heartbreak.
Super sophomore Gerald Liddell would lead the Knight’s balanced scoring attack, hitting for 21 points. The 6’6″ swingman would have his way attacking the hoop and cleaning up on the glass. There was no official stats for rebounds, but we marked Liddell with 11 boards. His length and athleticism was unmatched by the Buffaloes, showing why Gerald is ranked as the #3 overall national prospect by Scout.com and a 5-star recruit.
In the first half, Steele would start off fast, running out to a 6-0 lead, but the Buffaloes would respond as Devonte Ford (Sr.) would check in and establish himself quickly with easy buckets. Sharpshooting guard Jalon Gates (Sr.) would add a three pointer and both teams were tied, 9 all.
The rest of the first frame would see Clemens out in front. The guard play of Kijana Love and Darius Van Dyke (So.) would surge the Buffs ahead with a halftime score of 41-35.
We spoke with Liddell afterwards:
Talk about this highly anticipated match-up with your rival Clemens and how it went
It was a close game the hole time, we really wanted to pull this one out because last year it was a different story, they were killing us. This year we had something to play for, so we really wanted to win this one, we pulled it out.
Early on you came out attacking, also at the start of the 2nd half, was that your intent or did it just play out that way
We always play hard, with the team behind us, we just came out hard because it’s district. So we have to step up, regardless of who we’re playing we still have to play hard.
The new TABC rankings just came out yesterday, Steele is ranked #3 in the 6A class. Did yal notice that before the game
We don’t get caught up in the rankings, we just wanna play hard, beat everybody so we can be the number one team.
You hit the glass really hard tonight. Is that something you focus on in your game or did the ball just bounce your way
We always gotta crash. We gotta expect everything as a miss so we gotta go in and get those rebounds. My whole team and my coach is always behind us about offensive resbounds. Everybody has to crash.
Sidenote: Liddell did mention that he is keeping up with his recruiting, but his main focus right now in the season is on getting a state championship. He plans to focus more on recruiting this summer.