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R.C. Byrd pulls away from Liberty

by Charles Casey

CORRESPONDENT

CLARKSBURG -- Robert C. Byrd responded with tenacious second-half defense to down crosstown rival Liberty, 79-46, in boys Big 10 Conference action Friday night.

Both teams came out smoking offensively in the first quarter as the game was tied at 20-20. The Mountaineers were 9 of 12 (75 percent) from the floor, while the Eagles were 8 of 11 (72.7 percent).

"We knew as a coaching staff that (Liberty) was going to play better than it did against us the last time and they came in playing better," Robert C. Byrd coach Chris Sprenger said.

However, Liberty would make only nine field goals over the remaining three quarters and the Eagles speed at the guard spots was the reason why.

With Robert C. Byrd (13-3, 10-0 Big 10) ahead 34-27 at the half, Bobby Buffey was a major player in the third period. He scored 12 points, handed out three assists and had four steals to lead the Eagles surge.

"(Bobby) did a great job with his speed a quickness," Sprenger said. "It all starts with defense, and that's where this team makes a living."

Buffey's dominance led to a 22-3 run which gave the Eagles a commanding 56-30 lead with just less than a minute left in the third period.

R.J. Coleman also provided some muscle in the paint with five points and six rebounds.

Liberty (4-12, 3-8) came into the game riding a two-game win streak. But, coach Russ Nutt still remains upbeat about how his team is progressing.

"To (Robert C. Byrd's) credit, we knew we could not run with them," Nutt said. "For the first half while we were fresh and strong, I thought we executed about as well as we have all year.

"Their pressure defense just wore us down both physically and mentally. Robert C. Byrd just has some good athletes and we did not have an answer for them.

"But, we are making strides with every game and I am very happy with the play."

The Eagles were blazing from the floor hitting on 32 of 54 from the floor for 59.3 percent.

Michael DeFazio led all scorers for the Eagles with 20 points, 11 coming in the first half. Buffey followed with 15 points, eight assists and five steals.

Eddie Prairie also netted double digits with 11 points, and TyJuan Wright, who got his first start of the season, had 10 points. Coleman was the game's leading rebounder with 11 boards.

Aaron Wolfe paced the Mountaineers with 15 points, while Mike Menear followed with 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds.

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