By Joseph Garcia
BURNET – With a gym full of rabid fans, the Lady Panthers of Liberty Hill were up for the challenge of beating the Burnet Lady Dawgs on their home court.
The Burnet student body was wearing red in an attempt to psych out the Lady Panthers to remind them of last season’s playoff loss to Salado and the fans wearing green were just as loud.
Coming off a dominating performance in a 71-18 win over Llano, the senior-laden team told Coach Matt Kirschner not to worry against Burnet because “we got this.”
And get it they did with defensive tenacity and smart offense for a 47-24 victory over Burnet, improving to 26-4 overall, but most importantly 6-0 in District 25-3A.
With the win Liberty Hill built a two-game lead and holds the tie-breaker over as they completed the season sweep over Burnet, which moved to 4-2, 15-12.
“I was really uptight today because I was nervous,” admitted Kirschner. “But the girls said ‘believe in us because we got this.’ I think that quote sums it all up. They were ready, focused and knew what they had to do.”
The first quarter started like it ended — with a Liberty Hill three pointer.
Senior Lorrie Potts got the Lady Panthers started with a three from the corner and Jessica Green ended the first with a three of her own to cap a 16-point quarter for Liberty Hill (16-5).
In between the beginning and ending shots of the first, the defense did its job allowing only one made Burnet field goal. In transition the Lady Panthers forced errant Burnet passes that led to 11 turnovers and points for Liberty Hill.
In the second quarter senior Kourtney Bevers was on the floor scratching, clawing and fighting for every loose ball, only without the near fight. However, the quarter itself was a fight as scoring was hard to come by for both teams in a back and forth contest.
Nothing less than a rough game was either team expecting.
“Any time you play on the road in this series it’s going to be hard,” Kirschner said. “The girls came in extremely focused, probably the most focused I’ve seen them except for when they played in the regional tournament.”
Liberty Hill missed its first 15 field goal attempts, but Green earned Liberty Hill a 22-9 halftime advantage via a layup with 43 second to play in the period.
The Lady Panthers defense allowed only four points and forced 12 more Burnet turnovers.
When the third quarter came around, so did the Liberty Hill offensive attack as the Lady Panthers outscored the Lady Dawgs 14-8 in the period with Bevers scoring half the points (seven). Green also added her second trey of the game to help push Liberty Hill to a 36-17 lead with one quarter remaining.
In the start of the fourth quarter Coach Kirschner wrote “eight more minutes” on the clipboard. A message the seniors took to heart.
“I told the seniors this is your last time at Burnet,” Kirschner said. “I told the girls I don’t want to come back and I don’t want to take the chance of them being in our half of the (playoff) bracket. I don’t want to play them again.”
Senior Jordan Redmond absolutely dominated the fourth quarter as Coach Kirschner decided to feed her the rock in the post. Redmond responded with all nine of her points coming in three minutes including a play where she made the bucket and got fouled, prompting a fist pump from the senior.
“I was trying to get her some confidence,” Kirschner said. “I also kept feeding her because I want people to see that our post players can score. I don’t normally call it, but tonight I wanted to get it going.”
Kirschner’s decision to feed the post was to also give opposing teams another look. He is already thinking ahead about future opponents and did not want to show too much on offense.
“I didn’t show any sets either,” he said. “We had already won two new set plays and scored on both. So I didn’t want to show anything else in case there were scouts in the crowd.”
Liberty Hill was led in scoring by Bevers with 14 points followed by nine for Green and Redmond. Senior Taylor Russell added six in the win.
The Lady Panthers are now on a 13-game winning streak and boast three players powered by Bevers, Green and Russell – all seniors – who are averaging over 11 points a game.
In total, Burnet turned the ball over 41 times due to the swarming Liberty Hill defense. And with the crowd never letting down, neither did the Lady Panthers as they stormed to a 47-24 finish to go 6-0 in district play.