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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Alton bags Tigers for Liberty title

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Sports Editor

When you've been outscoring your opponents by an average margin of 20 points, it usually means you're not involved in many close games.

Fortunately for the Alton Comets, it appears they may be as adept at playing catch up when needed as they have been at blitzing the first 10 teams on their schedule.

Case in point -- Alton's tilt with the Houston Tigers in the finals of the 33rd Annual Liberty Invitational Tournament Jan. 24 in Mountain View.

Trailing for virtually the whole contest, the Comets kept plugging away at the lead before finally clearing the hump late to emerge with a hard-fought 62-59 win.

With the Tigers holding serve midway into the final period, Alton's Alex Wiggs (12 points) muscled his way into the paint to give the Comets a 55-54 lead, their first since early in the second period.

Clinton Hand (nine points) and Kyle Willard added free throws late in the frame to keep Alton in front before the Tigers made one last charge to take back the lead they enjoyed for most of the game.

Houston's Nick Carter rained in a trey at the 1:00 mark to bring the Tigers within two, 61-59.

Willard tacked on another free throw to extend Alton's advantage to three, with Houston calling timeout to set up one last shot with 15 ticks on the clock.

The Tigers had a couple of chances to tie the game, but Carter's final attempt, a long 3-pointer, missed the mark with a second remaining to give Alton the tournament title with a thrilling three-point victory.

The game turned out to be a showdown between Willard and Carter.

Willard broke out big-time for the Comets with a game-high 30 points, while Carter turned in an impressive performance of his own for Houston, scoring 28, including six treys.

The two squads combined for 14 shots beyond the arc for the game.

Houston snared the lead right off the bat and stayed in front the duration of the first period, leading 14-11 after one, with both sides playing aggressive full-court trapping defense.

Alton held the lead oh-so-briefly less than a minute inside the second period, 15-14, on Willard's second 3-ball of the game.

The Tigers immediately wrested the margin back on their side and kept it for the remainder of the first half.

Up 31-27 at the half, the Tigers stayed in front on timely outside shooting in the third.

Everytime the Comets drew within a couple of points, Houston uncorked a long trey that widened the lead.

Undaunted, Alton managed to keep hanging around until they finally broke through in the fourth period to lay claim to their first Liberty Tournament title since they won it back-to-back in 1998-99.

Justin Crews and Greg Campbell tallied four points each for Alton, while Bryan Joiner added two, and Nick Parrott one point for the Comets.

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