Boys Basketball Advances to NCS Finals with Dramatic Victory over Liberty

The Dublin High Boys Basketball team advances to the North Coast Section (NCS) Division 1 Championship with a dramatic 58-55 victory over Liberty in front of a raucous crowd in the Sports Complex on Tuesday night.

Dublin led throughout most of the game but found themselves trailing 55-53 with 19.4 seconds remaining. Jalen Stokes took the ball down the court and hit a step-back three-pointer after a small stumble to put the Gaels on top with under 11 seconds left in the game. Liberty did not have any timeouts so were forced to try and score in transition as the game’s final seconds ticked away, but Stokes and Demase Coly forced a turnover at midcourt and Stokes sealed the win with two free throws after being fouled with 1.9 seconds to go. The Lions’ desperation 78-foot three point attempt fell short as the Gaels punched their ticket to the NCS Championship.

Stokes was the Gaels’ leading scorer and rebounder with 23 points and 17 boards, while Evan Bautista added 19 points while hitting several clutch 3-point baskets throughout the night.

Liberty came out as the more aggressive team, particularly on the boards as they led through most of the 1st quarter before Dublin made a run to take a 21-18 lead at the end of the period. The Gaels were clinging to a 30-28 halftime advantage before making multiple 3rd quarter runs to go up 36-29 and 43-35, but they could never extend their edge beyond 8 points as Liberty continued to answer all night. Dublin was holding a 49-43 lead after the 3rd quarter, but Liberty did a great job defensively by limiting the Gaels to jut 4 points until the final 12 seconds of the game where they scored the last 5 points of the game to claim the win.

Dublin will be facing Dougherty Valley for the NCS Division 1 Championship, but the day, time, and location are still TBD. An announcement with details is expected sometime on Wednesday morning.

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