Girls basketball rolls in district opener

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By Taylor Grafft

While the weather outside was frightful, the Liberty Hill Lady Panthers were inside playing ever so delightful. How delightful? Coach Matt Kirschner’s team used a big second quarter to jump out to an early lead and never looked back, and eventually cruised to a 93-25 win over the Llano Lady Yellowjackets on Friday in their District 25-4A opener.

Friday’s game was originally scheduled for 6:30 p.m., but due to freezing weather the teams moved the game up an hour to allow fans and players to get home safer after the game.

The Lady Panthers’ recipe for victory Friday was typical of what has worked for them all season. Liberty Hill (23-2) showed Llano a full-court press and the Lady Yellowjackets struggled to break it for all four quarters.

“I’ve always had this philosophy that you always revert back to what you’ve always done,” Kirschner said. “The first quarter what (Llano has) worked on all week, they did. As the game gets going and you get tired and your mind and body start going back to what you’ve always done. And that plays into what we always do. We always press and teams try and make adjustments, but it’s a four-quarter game.”

Perhaps the most impressive stat of the night was during the second quarter when Liberty Hill did not allow Llano to score a single point. That scoreless drought continued into the third quarter and lasted a total of 10 minutes and 33 seconds. Llano finally scored at the 5:27 mark in the third quarter.

Even though the game was practically over in the second quarter when Liberty Hill outscored Llano 26-0, Kirschner’s team went on another big run in the fourth quarter and threatened to break the triple-digit mark before the coach called off the dogs with less than two minutes remaining in the game.

The Lady Panthers outscored the Lady Yellowjackets 30-7 in the final quarter, with a majority of those fourth-quarter points coming from great guard-play by the two seniors Ashlee Walker and Shelby Whitten.

Walker was like a kid in the candy store in the second quarter, when she swiped seven steals. By the time the game was over she finished with double-digits.

Walker and Whitten also lit up the scoreboard from behind the arc. In the fourth quarter Whitten made one of the plays of the game when she drained a three from the top of the arc and was knocked down for an and-one opportunity. She converted the free throw. Both Walker and Whitten each scored double-digit points in the final quarter to further seal their team’s victory.

About the only category the Lady Panthers didn’t dominate in the game were rebounds. While the Lady Yellowjackets out-rebounded the Lady Panthers on the offensive and defensive ends, the host’s suffocating defense and full-court press forced turnover after turnover and limited their opponents to settling for outside shots.

Other Friday night scores from around District 25-4A included Taylor defeating Salado 52-42. Lampasas outlasted Burnet 37-36 in a tight game.

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