The Dallas Cowboys and Texas Longhorns were not the only teams playing over the Thanksgiving weekend.
The Liberty Hill High School Lady Panthers varsity basketball squad participated in the 33rd annual Jack Frost Invitational Tournament Nov. 24-26 at Georgetown High School.
The Lady Panthers ended the three-day tournament 3-2, earning Liberty Hill Coach Matt Kirschner and his team an 8-3 overall record for the season before dismantling Hyde Park 88-15 in a lopsided game on Monday.
Liberty Hill (9-3) faced stiff competition throughout the tournament beginning with host Georgetown from District 16-5A on Thanksgiving Day. The Lady Eagles are ranked No. 13 in the latest Texas Association of Basketball Coaches (TABC) poll for class 5A, with the Lady Panthers at No. 10 in 3A.
And it was the Lady Eagles who took the opening game on turkey day, soaring to a 61-41 victory, taking advantage of Liberty Hill turnovers.
“Turnovers are still bothering us,” said Kirschner. “I don’t think we’ve stepped up to a good opponent yet. So we haven’t had a chance to see how good we really are.”
Taylor Russell led the Lady Panthers with 10 points in the contest and added six rebounds, two assists and three steals. Kourtney Bevers contributed nine points, three rebounds, two steals, one assist and a blocked shot in the loss.
Liberty Hill returned to Georgetown Friday morning and must have been rejuvenated with some turkey and stuffing as the Lady Panthers rebounded to beat the Lady Bobcats of Hallsville 66-51 in what was an 8 a.m. start.
In a game the Lady Panthers saw 10 different players score, Bevers was the game’s MVP leading the Liberty Hill scoring assault with 18 points while adding six steals, five boards and one block.
The Lady Panthers led 39-24 at halftime and grew the lead to 56-32 after three periods with the help of Jordan Redmond who added 10 points, two steals, one rebound, one blocked shot and an assist and Russell who contributed 10 points, five assists, three steals and one rebound.
The other seven scorers included Macy Floyd (eight points), Maddie Metzger (seven points), Jessica Green (seven points, five steals, four assists and three rebounds), Stephanie Metzger (four points), Lorrie Potts (two points, four steals and three assists) and Laurent Jackson (three rebounds and two assists).
Liberty Hill’s next opponent was the Wheatley Lady Wildcats, a 4A team from Houston.
The first quarter was the difference maker in this game as the Lady Panthers pounced out to a 28-9 lead after one. In the second quarter the Lady Wildcats outscored Liberty Hill 12-10, cutting the deficit to 38-21 at the half.
Liberty Hill then weathered a third quarter in which Wheatley once again outscored the Lady Panthers, this time 22-17. However, Liberty Hill made one final push in the fourth quarter, outlasting Wheatley to win 71-53 with Green filling up the stat sheet with 15 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals.
Behind her, Bevers added 12 points along with four boards and three steals while Russell scored 11 points.
The Lady Panthers’ winning streak was extended to three as they drowned Spring Memorial 57-35, a 5A team from the greater Houston area.
In the game Memorial committed 30 team fouls that led to four of its five starters fouling out of the game. With Memorial in foul trouble, scoring came in bunches for Liberty Hill totaling 22 in the first quarter and 20 more in the second to give the Lady Panthers a 42-15 halftime lead.
Each Liberty Hill player contributed to the win by scoring at least two points. But the Lady Panthers were led in scoring once again by Bevers who went for 17 in the game. And when all was said and done, Liberty Hill was on top 57-35, advancing Kirschner’s team to the next round.
The Lady Panthers made it all the way to the second-place game against the No. 12 ranked Lubbock Coronado of 5A, but lost 60-44 in their fifth game in a 35-hour window.
“Coronado and Georgetown are both quality opponents,” Kirschner said after the final game. “We just didn’t rebound; we couldn’t keep them off the glass.”
Looking as if they were running of fumes, the Lady Panthers managed only six points in the first quarter and eight more in the second. Missed opportunities and turnovers led to a 32-14 deficit for Liberty Hill at halftime.
However, Liberty Hill regrouped in the second half to outscore Coronado 30-28 aided by a 20-11 advantage in the fourth quarter.
“We didn’t have a lot of energy,” Kirschner admitted. “But part of that is playing five games in three days. They did respond with a nice run (towards the end).”
Coronado was led in scoring by Lizzie Dimba, and athletic forward who headed the Lady Mustangs with 21 points.
Liberty Hill’s Russell led the Lady Panthers with nine points while adding six rebounds and six steals. Bevers, Floyd and Green each tallied seven points. And Potts added six points and one assist, Redmond scored four points, grabbed four rebounds and blocked three shots.
For her contributions in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals, Taylor Russell was named to the Jack Frost All-Tournament team.
While the Lady Panthers struggled at times in the tournament, it was against strong 5A opponents that will help ready the team for a long season and a tough district schedule. Couple that with the fact that the team has had only a handful of practices together and it makes for a Liberty Hill basketball squad with tremendous potential.
The varsity Lady Panthers hit the court again Friday, Dec. 2, when they travel to Wimberley to take on the Lady Texans.