By Taylor Grafft
The junior varsity and freshman Lady Panthers picked up two huge district wins against Lampasas and Burnet in recent days.
It was clear from the tip-off that the Lady Panthers’ opponents were outmatched on both ends of the court.
The average margin of victory for the junior varsity team in the wins against Liberty Hill’s two longtime rivals was 23 points.
The average margin of victory for the freshman team in the wins was 34.5 points.
In the JV game against Burnet last week, the girls took an 11-point lead into halftime. The Lady Panthers were only ahead by five points at the end of the first quarter, but started to pull away after strong scoring by Victoria Stephens, Abbi Shelton and Hallie Smith.
Autumn Lange also helped by getting to the foul line and hitting several shots form mid-range. The Lady Panthers went on to beat Burnet 48-25 after continuing their strong run in the second half.
“When we played Brownwood and lost on Tuesday, the JV didn’t have a very good game,” said Coach Kim Holt. “So I think that helped them to want to play better and beat Burnet. This group really plays hard and I can never fault their effort. When they have lost a game, it is never about effort because they play hard and want to win. They have improved which each game they have played.”
Against Lampasas on Tuesday night, the girls started out fast and took a 17-4 lead into the second quarter. Sarah Buck, Lange, Shelton, Smith, and Mikayla Stiles all added their names to the score sheet after a solid first quarter of play.
In the second quarter, Stiles took over and scored five points for the Lady Panthers. She hit two shots from mid-range and also picked up a free throw after an aggressive drive to the basket.
At halftime, the JV Panthers led 28-10 and went on to outscore the Badgers 27-22 in the second half.
The JV girls will travel to Gatesville on Friday to try and continue their two-game win streak against the Hornets.
The freshman team also dominated both Burnet and Lampasas. Against the Bulldogs, the freshmen won 57-43, and against Lampasas the freshmen destroyed the Badgers 77-22.
“When you’re playing Burnet, the game is always exciting and a lot of fun due to the intense rivalry,” said freshman Coach Jamie Junkin. “That works both to our advantage and disadvantage. It really gets the teams fired up, but sometimes the girls get so caught up in the emotions they lose composure and do not stick to the game plan.”
Against Burnet, the boys and girls basketball teams won five of six of their games. Coach Junkin felt like those five wins were a big boost to the program.
“It’s definitely a boost to the overall mood of the program when all the teams win, and when it’s Burnet it feels really good,” Coach Junkin said.
The freshman girls have been putting together a lot of consistent results this season.
“The team does really well running the court because we have a lot of speed and depth,” Coach Junkin said. “The team plays well together and they are fun to coach and because most our wins our lopsided it makes the games stress free.”
Despite those lopsided victories there is still a desire to improve and get better each week for the players and Coach Junkin.
“The freshmen are still learning our system,” Coach Junkin said. “I am trying to get them ready for the next level and teach them the things that are important to contribute to the overall program. They will need to understand that there is a lot more involved than just winning.”