Metzger a catalyst for Lady Panthers

By Joseph Garcia 

Senior forward Maddie Metzger is a cornerstone for the Lady Panthers and was named the MVP of the Coach Smith Tournament in Salado last weekend. (Photo by Kathy Canady)

In her third season on the varsity basketball squad, senior Maddie Metzger is seemingly the team’s most consistent player and was a chief reason the Liberty Hill Lady Panthers won last weekend’s tournament in Salado. She will likely be a big part of any future success the program has this year.

Metzger comes from a basketball family and has two sisters who play. Her older sister, Stephanie, 18, graduated in 2011. Separated by one year, the two have played together on the same team the past two seasons. Her younger sister, Allison, 14, plays basketball on the Liberty Hill Junior High eighth grade Gold team.

Maddie said she enjoyed being the younger Metzger on teams she played on with Stephanie, who just completed her freshman season playing volleyball for Bentley University.

“It was great,” she said. “I love playing with my sister. We just kind of understood each other and it was really fun. She pushed me to work harder and I look up to her and I hope to accomplish at least half of what she has so far.”

Metzger, who leads the team in points (9) and rebounds (6) averaged, said she likes playing basketball because she likes the fast pace and competitiveness of the game. But she also enjoys the camaraderie that comes with being on a team.

She briefly reflected on the regional championship team from last year, but enjoys being on the young, upward trending group she is part of this year.

“It’s hard to ever have a team that close,” she explained of last year’s successful team. “We are a young team (this year) and have a lot of improving to do, but I feel like it’s all starting to come together. For example we went from losing all our games in a tournament to winning all of them. We have good chemistry and I feel when district comes around we will have come around. I think we will end up doing pretty good and I’m excited to see how well we will develop.”

What developed over the weekend was a team going from only winning three games leading up to the Coach Smith Tournament in Salado, to a team that won four straight and a trophy and Metzger was encouraged to say the least.

The Lady Panthers improved to 7-11 after the tournament.

“I’m really pleased with how we all played,” Metzger said. “We are improving a lot with how we are playing in practice and it showed in the tournament. We worked on encouraging each other more and I think it worked.”

Metzger, 17, received accolades and hardware to go with them for her stellar play in the Coach Smith Tournament this past weekend. Not only did she play well enough to help lead the Lady Panthers to the title, but she took home the Most Valuable Player award.

The senior forward’s favorite subject in school is math, but she did not calculate the possibility of winning such an award.

“It felt awesome,” Metzger exclaimed. “I didn’t know that was even an option. When they named all the tournament players I didn’t know I was going to get MVP. I was shocked, but it felt good.”

Metzger, who leads the team in free throws as well with a Ray Allen-like 87 percent, hit a few big buckets along with some clutch foul shots to help lift her team to the tournament title. Liberty Hill Coach Matt Kirschner says Metzger is a catalyst for his offense.

“She is very strong inside and is a very good free throw shooter,” Kirschner said. “When she gets fouled she still gives us points from the free throw line. She has very good form on her free throws and works hard on making them.”

Metzger’s list of personal goals for the remainder of the season include improving her shooting percentage, learning what is a good shot to a poor one and trying to earn a scholarship.  Goals for the team are not a specific, but if Metzger has anything to say about it they include becoming a formidable team.

“My team goals are encouraging each other more and playing as a team,” she said. “We’re coming together and I can see us doing good things in the future. We’re going to be pretty good for how young and new of a team we are.”

Upon graduation, Metzger plans to play basketball in college. She said there has been some interest in her services, but nothing is definite.

What is certain is that her status as the team’s go-to player is much needed the rest of the season if she plans to help secure another district championship before riding off into the sunset.

Coach Kirschner is not just looking out for and helping Metzger improve each day for Liberty Hill’s sake, but is also active in searching for a college suitor.

“Maddie does have the abilities to play at the next level,” he said. “We just need to find a school that needs a post player who shoots good free throws.”

Wherever she lands, it will be on her feet. But for now, her place is on the basketball court for the Liberty Hill Lady Panthers for what she hopes will be a special ending to her senior season.