Boys basketball fights off Bulldog comeback to hang on for win

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By Lauren Jette

The Panthers’ 42-37 win over the visiting Burnet Bulldogs Tuesday night wasn’t Liberty Hill’s best showing, but it was a win, which was good enough for head coach Barry Boren.

“It wasn’t pretty but we won. Sometimes that’s how it goes,” he said.

Neither team mustered much offense in the first quarter, but the Bulldogs were able to jump out to a lead about half way through. A basket from Trey Jenkins with two minutes left tied the game up at 7 points. A foul on Burnet and two free throws put the Bulldogs up 9-7 as the quarter ended.

Carson Lowe drained a three at the start of the second quarter to put the Panthers up 10-9. Bryce Truslow added to the lead with two free throws about 30 seconds later, and then put in another basket with 3:40 left to further increase the Panthers’ lead.

Brady Lochte hit a three to put Liberty Hill up 17-9. Garrett Wright added a layup with 1:46 to put the Panthers up 19-12 at the half.

Holding on to a 26-19 lead after the third quarter, Liberty Hill increased the lead the eight points off a basket from Jenkins with about five minutes left. A basket by Josh Sudekum off the inbounds pass put the Panthers up 32-24.

The Bulldogs worked themselves back into the game with a put back and foul with 3:23 left, and then another foul with 2:14 left. Three free throws but the Panther lead down to three.

A Burnet basket put the Bulldogs within one point of tying up the game with 1:50 left, forcing Boren to call a timeout.

After the timeout, Truslow hit a layup to give the Panthers a little more room. Truslow was fouled with 1:02 left and the free throw pushed the Panthers ahead by four points.

The Bulldogs fouled Slater Foust, who drained both free throws, then the Burnet shooter was fouled on the three point attempt to cut the lead to 37-34. Lowe was fouled and nailed both of his free throws, but Burnet responded with another three to make it a one possession game again with 34 seconds left.

Liberty Hill turned the ball over to give the Bulldogs a chance to tie or go ahead, but Jenkins came up with the steal and was fouled on the driving layup. A free throw gave the Panthers a three-point lead.

Lowe was fouled and drained his free throws with 14 seconds left, but Burnet couldn’t come up with a shot to stay in the game.

“People talk about us not being able to score,” Boren said.

“The guys who have scored for us are all the guys who are hurt, so we’re just having to find a way to win. You can’t say enough about the kids and the resilience and doing just that—finding a way to win. It wasn’t pretty, but we’ll take it.”

At Lampasas on Feb. 5, the Panthers defeated the Badgers 34-32. After going scoreless in the first quarter, Liberty Hill was able to outscore the Badgers 12-3 in the second quarter to stay in the game and then outscored Lampasas the rest of the game for the win.

Next up for the Panthers is Llano at home Friday for Senior Night.

“Friday night is going to be a chance for our seniors to play their last home game,” Boren said.

“It will be an emotional time, I’ll be emotional, their parents will be emotional, but you know what? It just means that you care.”

After that, Liberty Hill will wrap up the regular season on the road at Taylor Tuesday night, but Boren isn’t worried out it.

“We’re going to be in the playoffs, we know that, we don’t know in what position we’ll be in,” Boren said. “It really speaks to the quality of our kids the way they’ve rebounded. We’re 22-9. A lot of people would consider a 20-win season a really big deal. We’ve been spoiled around here, we’ve won 30 the last 6 years, so some times you have to be reminded, ‘hey, it’s not all that bad.’ We’ll take it.”

Freshmen and junior varsity will play at 5 p.m. Friday, with varsity taking the court at 6:30 p.m.

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