COPPELL — Highland Park used some of its trademark scrappy resilience to exorcise some postseason demons on Friday.
The Scots rallied past Frisco Liberty 60-57 in a Class 5A Region II area round game, avenging upset losses to the Redhawks in the playoffs in 2011 and 2014.
Plus, after a handful of near-misses, HP will return to the regional quarterfinals for the first time in eight years, where it will face McKinney North on Tuesday at a time and site to be determined.
Liberty claimed the upper hand in a seesaw game early in the fourth quarter. But the Scots executed down the stretch by limiting turnovers and making free throws. HP was 10-of-10 from the line in the fourth quarter, including six straight for Matthew Lodwick.
“I love how our guys stepped up,” said HP head coach David Piehler. “We made some mistakes but came back from that. It’s a gritty and determined group of guys.”
The Scots (25-9), who rolled past Marshall in the bi-district round on Tuesday, faced a size and speed disadvantage against the Redhawks (15-15). They compensated with crisp ball movement and timely perimeter shooting.
Lodwick led a balanced offensive attack with 14 points and four assists for HP. Nussbaum and Michael McMonigle tallied 12 points apiece. Alex Staffaroni finished with nine on a trio of 3-pointers, including a tie-breaking trey to beat the first-half buzzer.
Liberty consistently pounded the ball into the paint, getting big contributions from both 6-7 junior Zac Watson and 6-4 sophomore Zion Richardson.
Richardson scored a game-high 18 points, while Watson added 16 points and five rebounds, including a thunderous second-quarter dunk and a 6-of-6 effort at the free-throw line. Jadyn Bennett was the primary outside threat for Liberty with 10 points.
Piehler, whose team extended its winning streak to 15 games overall despite playing without leading scorer Will Enzor, credited a difficult regular-season schedule for allowing his battle-tested squad to thrive under pressure.
“Our schedule really helped us,” Piehler said. “It hardened us up and got us ready.”