Scots Upset by Liberty in Playoff Opener
CARROLLTON — Too many turnovers and too many missed shots led to a too-early exit from the boys basketball playoffs for Highland Park on Tuesday.
The Scots were upset by Frisco Liberty 58-55 in overtime, losing in the bi-district round of the Class 4A Region II playoffs for the fourth time in the past five years.
Despite a late rally and a tremendous second-half performance by Derek Cahn, HP stumbled with 21 turnovers against a smaller and quicker Liberty team that kept the game close throughout.
“It’s a combination of not taking care of the ball and Liberty making plays,” said HP head coach David Piehler. “They made the shots when they needed to.”
The Scots (27-5) trailed by three points with less than two minutes to play in regulation when Cahn hit a 3-pointer from the wing to tie the game at 46. Evan Beucler gave HP the lead with two free throws in the final minute, but Liberty’s Carter Brown made a short jumper with five seconds left to send the game into overtime.
HP trailed again for much of overtime, knotting the score on a layup by Clayton Murtha with 29 seconds remaining. However, Liberty’s Trey Curry scored on a layup of his own just eight seconds later, and two free throws by Brandon Hicks gave the Redhawks (17-10) a three-point advantage with a pair of free throws.
The Scots had a final chance to tie, but Cahn’s contested three-point attempt rimmed out at the buzzer.
“You can’t fault our effort,” said Piehler, whose team won the District 10-4A title during the regular season. “We didn’t take them lightly. They just played better than we did.”
Cahn finished with a game-high 27 points, including 22 after halftime. He scored all 11 of HP’s points in the third quarter, and added six rebounds. Beucler finished with 12 points.
After a slow start, the Scots used an 8-0 spurt to take a 16-13 lead early in the second quarter. Cahn and Beucler each made 3-pointers during the run.
However, the Redhawks never let HP take control thanks to a balanced effort led by guard Ashten Bloom, who scored a team-high 18 points and was 6-of-6 from the free-throw line. Curry added 14 points for Liberty, while Carter had 11.
Liberty, which finished in a tie for third place in District 9-4A during the regular season, was playing its first postseason game since 2011, when it also knocked off the Scots in the first round.
It was the final game for eight HP seniors, including all five starters. Piehler said that once that group gets past the disappointment of Tuesday’s loss, it can reflect fondly on an otherwise stellar season.
“They’ve come a long way. They came together and bought into what we were trying to do,” Piehler said. “We all wish we could have gone further, but they set an example for the juniors and sophomores for next year.”