TOLEDO – For anyone who has wondered whether or not the Toledo Libbey Cowboys can play without their star, William Buford, the question was answered in convincing style during the Toledo City League’s championship game on Thursday night.
The Cowboys, for half the third quarter and nearly the entire fourth quarter with Buford on the bench with four personal fouls, St. John’s not only maintained their lead but they also increased it on their way to a one-sided 61-39 victory and back-to-back City League championships.
The Cowboys have been a second half team most of the year but last night the Cowboys were determined to come out of the gate strong but in the first quarter an emotionally charged Titan squad remained close. In fact, the Titans were in position to close the quarter tied with the Cowboys but a turnover while the Titans were attempting to hold the ball for the last shot allowed the Cowboys to go up by four, 11-7, as the quarter ended.
“We didn't want to start out slow like we had been,” said Libbey coach Leroy Bates,” and I think they picked it up well enough at the beginning. We knew it was going to be a physical game, but the guys didn't back down. They got a lot more confidence as the game went on.”
The second quarter, however, was not as good for Titans. The Cowboys outscored the Titans, 16-4, in the second quarter to go up by 16 points but the Titans staged a brief comeback in the final minute, highlighted by a long-range 3-pointer by freshmen Cheatham Norrils that just beat the buzzer, to allow the Titans to pull within five points by halftime. It would prove to be the Titans’ last hurrah.
The second half was a series of Libbey highlights. With Buford on the bench with foul trouble it was a chance for some of the other Cowboys to demonstrate their skills. Tony Brown, Lance Jones, Brad Burton and Brad Sandridge all took turns in the limelight and, as a team, the Cowboys shot an unbelievable 13-of-17 from the field and an eleven point halftime lead grew to more than twenty and remained there for the remainder of the game.
Buford spent nearly half the game on the bench in foul trouble but still led the Cowboys in scoring with 15 points. Senior teammate Brad Sandridge joined him with 13.
Only one Titan, freshmen Cheatham Norrils, hit double figures. His 3 three-pointers allowed him to post 10 points.
“They shoot well. They jump well. Buford and Sandridge lit it up in the first half and Brown in the second,” said St. John’s coach Ed Heintschel. “They are deep and they are talented. They should make a good run in the playoffs.”
“What we wanted to do was not start out slow like we have been,” said Libbey coach Leroy Bates. “I think they picked up well enough at the beginning. We knew it was going to be physical and it was but our guys didn’t back down.”