Junior forward Russell Booker, Liberty's leading scorer last season, took a reduced scoring role this year, knowing the Eagles needed his defense and rebounding more than his points. Luckily for Liberty, Booker did not forget how to shoot.
Booker took just three shots yesterday -- all three-pointers and all in the second half -- and made them all as Liberty erased a 16-point third-quarter deficit to win its Virginia AA Region II quarterfinal at Broad Run, 59-57.
It was the first regional tournament victory for Liberty (17-6), a nine-year-old school that will face Fauquier County's other public high school, Fauquier High, at 7 p.m. Monday in the regional semifinals at James Madison University. Fauquier (22-2) avenged one of its two regular season losses yesterday by defeating Park View, 69-42.
The winner of that game -- a rematch of the Northwestern District final, won by Fauquier -- will clinch a berth in the Virginia AA tournament.
Broad Run led 45-37 early in the fourth quarter when Booker hit his first three-pointer. Kirk Melvin responded with one of his own for Broad Run on the next possession, but Booker came right back, converting from the top of the key. Booker's third basket with 2 minutes 47 seconds to play gave Liberty a 52-48 lead, capping a 15-3 run that put Liberty up for good.
"All season long, I've been shooting threes in practice," said Booker, whose scoring average has dropped by 50 percent this season, from 10.8 to 5.4. "During the game, I was just trying to pass the ball around, getting other guys open, but Coach [Paul Frye] told me to start shooting when I was open."
Liberty junior center Jeff Washington scored a game-high 20 points. Ryan Koppel had 16 for Broad Run (19-6), which had its winningest season since its 1969 opening.
In the other semifinal, Fauquier reserves Dwayne Foddrell, Justin Reavis, Jonathan Ross and Christopher Douglas gave the Falcons' potent offense some added punch in Warrenton.
The quartet combined for 21 points, 10 rebounds and 7 steals and was instrumental in wearing down Park View (12-12) in the second half. Fauquier led 30-24 at the half but went on a 10-0 run to start the third quarter and led by 20 points with four minutes remaining in the game.
Fauquier senior guard Ricardo White scored a game-high 16 points, including four three-pointers.
"We know when our bench is on and our starters are on, we can't be beat," said Foddrell, who scored eight points. "We've been playing so good lately that when the starters come out, there's no drop-off, and that's the advantage of being able to go so deep in the bench."
Tigers Miss State Berth
Brentsville missed a chance for a first Virginia A tournament berth when William Campbell senior forward Jeff Jones rebounded a teammate's missed three-pointer and scored at the buzzer to defeat the Tigers, 39-37, in a Region B semifinal at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg.
Brentsville (17-8), the Bull Run District regular season and tournament champions, trailed William Campbell for much of the game until Brian Owen (team-high 14 points) scored on a layup to cap a 12-2 run and give the Tigers a 37-33 lead with 1:37 left. Brentsville was 0 for 3 at the line after that, giving the Generals (8-12) a chance to win at the end.
"That final shot was tough, because everyone on the floor stopped when he shot [the three-pointer], and he missed it, but then -- boom -- no one boxed out, and look what happened," Owen said. "I really believe we should have gone farther -- I thought we were the better team, but that's the way it goes."
Special correspondent Will Toussaint contributed to this report.