Boys Basketball: Masterlasco does it all in L-B’s win over Van Buren

Liberty-Benton's Anthony Masterlasco goes up for two of his school-record 46 points during Friday's Blanchard Valley Conference boys basketball game against Van Buren. (Photo by Matthias Leguire)

Liberty-Benton’s Anthony Masterlasco goes up for two of his school-record 46 points during Friday’s Blanchard Valley Conference boys basketball game against Van Buren. (Photo by Matthias Leguire)

By MICHAEL BURWELL
Staff Writer
Anthony Masterlasco.
That basically summed up Liberty-Benton’s game Friday against Blanchard Valley Conference rival Van Buren.
Masterlasco, the Eagles’ 6-foot-4 senior, broke Aaron Craft’s school record for points in a game with 46, scored his 1,000th point in the process and grabbed 12 rebounds as L-B outlasted the Black Knights 63-58 in overtime.
“I’ve got to dedicate it all to my teammates tonight,” Masterlasco said. “Without them, we wouldn’t have been able to come through, especially against an undefeated team.
“(Van Buren’s) really good, it’s hard to play them. But the moment, you just got to do what you got to do and take over.”
L-B won its sixth straight game to improve to 7-2 and 4-0 in the BVC. Van Buren, which lost an overtime game to L-B for the second straight season, dropped to 6-1 and 3-1.
Masterlasco’s 46 points broke Craft’s 44 point mark set in 2010. Masterlasco hit the 1,000 point milestone with 2:55 left in the fourth quarter on a layup to tie the game at 44-44. He finished the game with 1,015 career points.
“It’s a crazy stat to think of,” Masterlasco said of the record. “Coming in, I never really thought about it that much, but now knowing it, it’s pretty cool.”
Masterlasco went 14 of 16 from the free-throw line and knocked down a jumper at the line as well.
The rest of his 30 points came in the paint.
“Anthony was just the man tonight,” L-B coach Ben Gerken said. “He was unstoppable. He is an unselfish player, but he saw that he was able to get to the rim.”
Masterlasco’s performance highlighted a wild game that featured four ties in the final 3:40 of the fourth quarter and five lead changes in overtime.
The Black Knights forced three turnovers in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter to take a 39-36 lead. Van Buren’s Tyler Saltzman and Matthew Ayers both had steals and converted those to easy layups, and Ryan Turner scored an easy bucket off a turnover as well.
“You got to give a lot of credit (to Van Buren),” Gerken said. “(Van Buren) coach (Marc) Bishop has his kids playing hard, and defensively they did a really good job of taking us out of our sets. Most of those turnovers happened when we were trying to execute offensive sets.”
Van Buren went on a 4-0 run to take a 50-46 lead with 1:13 left. Saltzman, a 5-10 senior who played key minutes off the bench, drained a 3-pointer to make it 49-46 and Turner added a free throw.
“A lot of credit to Tyler Saltzman,” Bishop said. “He just played so hard tonight. He’s a model of what effort looks like to me out there. He’s having to guard Masterlasco all night and then he hit a big three in the corner. He did everything he could do to help us tonight.”
L-B’s Austin May knocked down a pair of free throws with 41 seconds left as Braxton Fasone, Van Buren’s leading scorer on the season, fouled out. Masterlasco’s two free throws tied the game at 50-50 with 22 seconds left, and Turner’s 3-point attempt at the buzzer was off the mark.
Van Buren’s Brandon Bell scored on a fastbreak bucket late in overtime to make it 55-54 Van Buren. Masterlasco and Ayers traded baskets over the next 20 seconds, and Masterlasco’s spin move for a bucket gave the Eagles a 58-57 lead with 42 seconds left.
Two more Masterlasco free throws gave L-B a three-point lead, and after a Van Buren turnover, Tyler George split a pair of free throws to give the Eagles a 61-57 lead with 14 seconds left.
L-B went 17 of 20 from the free throw line for the game. Van Buren was just 10 of 21.
“I’m so proud of our guys for the defensive stops we got. We got rebounds when we needed to and we hit big free throws down the stretch,” Gerken said.
Van Buren bolted to a 9-0 lead in the first three minutes to begin the game as Fasone scored five of his 13 points and Turner had four of his 13. Fasone, a 6-5 senior, picked up his second foul with 2:16 left and sat the rest of the half.
L-B responded to pull within 11-10 after the first quarter and built a 20-16 lead late in the half on Masterlasco’s three-point play. But Ayers, who had a team-high 15 points, scored a pair of buckets to tie the game at halftime.
“I liked our effort, I thought we fought really hard tonight,” Bishop said. “We had some guys step up. For us, this is one game. It’s not going to define our season.”
Conor Greer added 10 points for L-B, while Ethan Frankart and May both had seven rebounds. The Eagles had a 40-29 rebounding advantage and forced the Black Knights to shoot 40 percent (23 of 57) from the floor and just 11 percent (2 of 18) from 3-point range.
“I told our team in the locker room, this was our best halfcourt defensive game that we played this year,” Gerken said. “We still gave up a lot of points, but I thought as a team, we did a really good job of understanding the personnel.”
Kade Steveson’s seven rebounds led Van Buren. The Black Knights forced 12 of L-B’s 19 turnovers in the second half and overtime.

VAN BUREN (6-1, 3-1 BVC)
Ayers 7-1–15, Fasone 4-5–13, Turner 6-1–13, Steveson 2-3–7, Bell 2-0–5, Saltzman 2-0–5. TOTALS: 23-57 10-21 — 58.
LIBERTY-BENTON (7-2, 4-0 BVC)
Masterlasco 16-14–46, Greer 5-0–10, George 1-1–3, Lenhart 1-0–2, May 0-2–2. TOTALS: 23-51 17-20 — 63.
Van Buren 11 9 13 17 8 — 58
Liberty-Benton 10 10 14 16 13 — 63
3-Point GOALS: Van Buren 2-18 (Bell & Saltzman 1); Liberty-Benton 0-9.
rebounds: Van Buren 29 (Steveson 7); Liberty-Benton 40 (Masterlasco 12).
turnovers: Van Buren 10; Liberty-Benton 19.
junior varsity: Liberty-Benton, 35-34.
Burwell, 419-427-8407
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