After slow start, Liberty Hill trounces Wimberley

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By BOB VARMETTE

For roughly the first 5 1-2 minutes, it looked like it was going to be a tight game.

Chalk that up to the initial overconfidence of the Class 4A No. 5 Liberty Hill Panthers. Shaken back to reality by coach Barry Boren and senior guard Callen Mikulencak, the Panthers roared and ended up running away from the Wimberley Texans 75-37 Tuesday night in boys non-district basketball at Liberty Hill High School’s gym.

“We didn’t start the greatest,” Liberty Hill sophomore Zach Lord said. “We just came out here expecting to win because we were 19-0 and we just thought it was going to be easy. We kicked it into gear when Callen got into us and got us going. We didn’t look back.”

The Texans (10-7) came to make a game of it against the Runnin’ Panthers (20-0). A pair of 3s helped Wimberley to an 8-7 lead just past the midway point of the first quarter.

But that was that. Liberty Hill scored 12 straight points and closed out the first quarter on a 14-3 run.

Lord was a big part of the awakening. The 6-foot-9 post gave the Panthers their first lead at 9-8 with 2:20 in the first quarter on a pair of free throws and put the rout in gear with a traditional three-point play when he was fouled inside with 52 seconds left to give Liberty Hill a 19-8 margin.

Lord finished with 17 points for Liberty Hill. Mikulencak led the Panthers with a game-high 18 points, including 11 in the second quarter when Liberty Hill really ran away from Wimberley.

“What happened is they were playing very well out of the gate and we weren’t playing so well,” Boren said. “Then, our kids that came off the bench gave us a little lift and when our starters came back in we closed the quarter really well. It speaks to having a good team and I think we do have a good team.”

Mikulencak and Lord were the only Panthers to finish in double figures, but Liberty Hill got key scoring contributions from Conner Lowe with nine points, and Slater Foust and Logan Gillentine, who each scored six points.

Lowe had a big first quarter for the Panthers, hitting a pair of 3s. The first kept the Panthers level with the Texans, the second came in the mini-run and gave Liberty Hill a 16-8 lead.

Once they got in gear, the Panthers outscored the Texans 22-8 in the second quarter, led by a pair of 3s from Mikulencak, and were up comfortably at 43-21 at the break. Liberty Hill had its best defensive quarter of the game in the third, holding Wimberley to just six points while scoring 18 to take a 61-25 advantage into the final eight minutes.

While the Panthers offense needed a few minutes to warm up, their defense was tenacious from the outset. None of the Texans finished in double figures, with sophomore Davin Masur and senior Carter Garrison scoring eight points each.

“I thought we were really prepared,” Boren said. “Hats off to the kids. I get to coach them, but they’ve got to go out there and play.”

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