By Joseph Garcia
The high school football season is over, but a game seemingly broke out at the Panthers Den Friday night between the Lady Panthers of Liberty Hill and their principal foe, the Burnet Lady Dawgs.
As is tradition, the Liberty Hill vs. Burnet matchup produced a tough and very physical clash. For every loose ball on the floor, there was a dog pile to gain possession of the ball like it was a fumble in a football game.
But after four quarters it was the Lady Panthers who emerged the victors in the heated battle with a 49-31 final in front of a rambunctious crowd.
“That’s the definition of Liberty Hill-Burnet,” said Liberty Hill Coach Matt Kirschner. “It’s been that way for the last five times now going back to my first year when we played them. The girls responded and played well. Even in times of adversity when things got heated.”
And things certainly did heat up especially in the third quarter when Liberty Hill’s Kourtney Bevers and Burnet’s Leah Cotton got into a small tussle after fighting for a loose ball. The girls had to be separated, but no technical fouls were called on either side.
The game was close throughout as Burnet led after the first quarter 11-10. But the Lady Panthers stormed back in the second with a 10-0 run to close out the half aided by good defense that led to turnovers and points for Liberty Hill.
Jessica Green and Taylor Russell each scored four points in the second period to push Liberty Hill to a 24-15 advantage at the half.
The third quarter was the most physical as Bevers and Cotton got into it with each other. But more importantly, when the Lady Dawgs went on an 8-0 run, the Lady Panthers responded with cooler heads led by senior Jordan Redmond.
Senior experience prevailed for the Lady Panthers in the heat of combat.
“We are so experienced with almost all the girls playing varsity last year,” Kirschner said. “When we play Burnet they already knew it was going to be (heated).”
Redmond scored six points in the third and they were three-point plays the old fashioned way as she was fouled and made the baskets. Liberty Hill shot eight free throws in the quarter and came back to earn a 35-24 lead with one left to play.
The closest Burnet got in the fourth was when a pair of free throws cut the lead to 10 (41-31), but the Lady Panthers began to slow things down and run some clock en route to a 49-31 win.
“(The team) knows how we want to finish the games,” Kirschner explained. “I will delay the game and run the clock to try to get out with (a win). We don’t want to keep running and letting them stay in the game.”
Senior Lorrie Potts, who was back in action (leg), led the Lady Panthers with 14 points, including the Liberty Hill’s only trey of the game. She also added five rebounds and two assists.
Green filled up the stat sheet with 10 points, seven steals, four assists and one rebound while the season leading scorer, Bevers, finished with six points, six rebounds, five steals and four assists.
The Lady Dawgs were led be seniors Leah Cotton who scored 12 and Kati Maldonado who finished with nine.
With one district game down, Coach Kirschner’s team is on the right track.
“It’s a nice win and we are one step closer to where we want to be,” he said. “We got nine more games and we’ve got to earn the rest.”
The Lady Panthers hit the hard court again Tuesday, Jan. 12 at Lampasas before returning home to take on Taylor Friday, Jan. 13.