Coach K, Lady Panthers secure district title, playoff spot

Taylor Russell (left) and Maddie Metzger (right) look to grab a rebound in the Lady Panthers’ 80-54 win over Lampasas Jan. 27. (www.ThunderstruckPhotos.com)

By Joseph Garcia

There was never really much doubt about whether or not the Liberty Hill Lady Panther basketball team would make the playoffs. But now the Lady Panthers have sewn up a playoff spot after extending their winning streak to 15. But most importantly, they secured the 25-3A District Championship.

By no means does securing the district title and a place in the playoffs equal Liberty Hill Coach Matt Kirschner taking his foot off the pedal. He plans to still approach the remaining games one at a time with the goal of winning the district with an undefeated record.

“We did secure a playoff spot tonight,” confirmed Kirschner. “We don’t know what spot yet, but we are locked into the playoffs. We are taking it one game at a time. But now we are looking at an undefeated district championship. We just have to stay focused and we can’t look past anybody.”

The Lady Panthers took two steps closer to their goal with an 80-54 victory against Lampasas on Friday, Jan. 27, and a big 82-18 win over Taylor on Tuesday, Jan. 31.

With the wins, Liberty Hill improved to 8-0 in District 25-3A and 28-4 overall.

But it wasn’t always easy, especially against a charged up Lampasas team looking to play spoiler.

With the game tied 6-6, Lampasas took a two-point lead and looked to add more as they came out shooting well. However, Taylor Russell would have none of it scoring on back-to-back plays where she made the basket and a free throw after being fouled.

Russell added another long two and along with a Kourtney Bevers three and four points from Jordan Redmond, building a 15-10 lead after one.

Russell and Redmond continued to have strong games for Liberty Hill. In the second quarter, Redmond made a power move under the basket and scored over helpless Lampasas defenders for two of her eight points in the period.

Bevers seemed to find her shot as she nailed a couple of treys in the second quarter as well. In total, the Lady Panthers outscored Lampasas, taking advantage of turnover after turnover, 30-15 in the second quarter to push the Liberty Hill advantage to 45-25 at the half.

“Kourtney did a great job,” Kirschner said. “She is stepping up at the right time.”

The second half became a bit chippy, but as always the Lady Panthers prevailed with cooler heads. The physical style of play is something Coach Kirschner says the team is used to.

“In physical games we are learning to keep our composure because we now know that’s how everyone is going to play us,” he said. “I am very proud of them.”

While Lampasas tried everything they could to take Liberty Hill out of its game, the Lady Panthers came out on top 80-54.

Russell led the Lady Panthers with 16 points; Bevers added 14 and seven assists to add to her season total of 117. And Redmond scored 13 points and swatted five blocks to give her 104 on the season.

With only two games remaining on the schedule, Parents Night is set for Friday, Feb. 3, against Salado before the Ladie Panthers head to Llano Tuesday, Feb. 7, to close out the regular season. Both tip offs are set for 6:30 p.m.

Without a doubt, it will be an emotional night for the players, parents and coaches alike as the nine seniors play at the Panthers Den for the final time. Coach Kirschner said it will be a special moment because they are such a close-knit team.

“They are family, sisters they hang out all the time,” he said. “It is not about any one of them it’s about all of them.”