Liberty junior wing Julian Strawther was content scoring 25 at Coronado on Friday night. But he was elated watching teammate Kobe Stroughter score 26.
And teammate Dante Davis score 15.
And teammate Lorenzo Abellar score 14.
“Honestly, there’s no better feeling,” Strawther said after making 10 of 16 field goals. “To see my teammates thrive, and to be energized off of it…There’s nothing like it.”
The Patriots (13-11, 7-3 Southeast League) put forth their finest performance of the year in a clinical, 106-84 dismantling of the Cougars in the regular-season finale. There weren’t any postseason implications on the line.
For Liberty, anyway.
“We’ve been waiting for this,” Strawther said, recalling a 97-78 loss to the Cougars on Jan. 9. “This is our crosstown rival.”
Strawther and Stoughter took turns attacking Coronado’s lackadaisical half-court defense, and probed the paint for layups or open 3-pointers for Abellar and Davis. Abellar made four treys in the first half en route to a 55-31 halftime lead. Davis made four in the second half to help the Patriots extend said lead.
The Cougars, meanwhile, relied on mostly fruitless isolation and struggled to score amid a frenetic pace and defensive pressure from the Patriots. Jaden Hardy scored a game-high 32 points on 8 of 25 shooting for Coronado (16-7, 8-2).
“This is what we’ve talking to the kids (about) all season,” Liberty coach Stefan Berg said. “To play unselfish basketball. To play hard a full 32 minutes. This game in particular, we didn’t have a lull.”
Strawther, the consensus four-star wing who opposing teams have schemed all season to stop, led the Patriots in celebration from the bench in the final minutes, and gregariously greeted his teammates during timeouts and after the game.
They’ll play Spring Valley in Desert Region tournament play on Wednesday.
Coronado has a bye into the quarterfinals, and will play either Silverado or Green Valley on Friday.
“To have this momentum in the playoffs means everything,” Strawther said.
The Patriots have plenty.
The Cougars don’t.