Lady Panthers clinch District, will face Giddings in bi-district playoff

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Junior guard Ireland Sargent (#3) gets to the bucket through contact against Llano on Feb. 2, during the Lady Panthers’ 103-29 victory on Parents’ Night. (Alex Rubio Photo)

By Lance Catchings

The Liberty Hill varsity girls’ basketball team completed a clean sweep of District 19-4A competition Tuesday night with an 84-13 win over Lampasas, ending the regular season with a 30-3 overall record and a 12-0 mark in district en route to yet another district championship.

The Lady Panthers set the scoreboard on fire last Friday with a 103-29 victory on Parents’ Night. Liberty Hill jumped out to a 19-0 lead early, and Llano did not score its first points until 3:07 left in the first quarter. By halftime, the Lady Panthers had a built a 61-10 lead and the starting five had long been pulled from the floor.

The Liberty Hill starters opened the third quarter and ripped off another 18 points to build a 79-12 lead before they were pulled for the rest of the game. Kandyn Faurie led the team with 20 points and Sedona Prince had 18. Heaven Dandridge had 18 points and hit four treys in the win. Lizzie Buck had 13 and Bethany McLeod scored 10 to round out the top scorers. 11 of the 15 players on the roster scored on the night. Those that didn’t score were impactful running the half court press and forcing turnovers for their teammates.

Head Coach Chris Lange was all smiles after the dominant performance by his team.

“Overall, against Llano we played really well,” Lange said. “We scored 60 points in the first half. We pressed until we got up by about 20 then went into the halfcourt defense and had really nice execution. I was really pleased with everyone that stepped on to the court in the first half, and we had plenty of scoring from different girls. All-in-all, the game went a little better than I thought it would go just shooting the ball. We had a lot of girls hit three-point shots, which was nice tonight.”

The starters quickly went up 19-0, but the second group was just as impressive, building a 34-7 lead before coming off the court. Lange said the playing time the girls have seen is paying dividends.

“With the second group, it’s about confidence,” he said. “Some of those girls will have to step up and play during the playoffs because of injuries, foul trouble or whatever the case may be. If you never get them in, then the girls are never ready to play. I think that’s what some people have trouble understanding. I am not coaching for the win we had tonight, I am coaching for every win we want beyond this. The girls understand that and they all want to get out there and play. They understand what we are trying to do and know that roles will change once we get in the playoffs”

The Lady Panthers have steadily improved their outside shooting all season, and it is not by accident that the shots keep falling.

“I have been really pleased with our shooting,” Lange said. “That has been a concentrated effort in practice. We have added a couple new drills to increase catching and releasing. I have seen a nice increase in the percentage from outside, and if that continues, it will make us tough to beat. When you see the girls moving the ball around and they are not overpassing, it’s pretty. We had good ball movement, took the easy shots and made each other successful, and that is good basketball.”

The Lady Panthers will now turn their sights to the playoffs and the first team standing in their way. The regular season is over, but there is still a lot of basketball to be played.

“We hope to have everyone healthy next week,” Lange said. “After our game against Lampasas, we have to get in the gym and clean up some things. We have to get prepared for that first playoff game and beyond. I am really proud of the girls and their effort this season so far.”

The bi-district playoff round has Liberty Hill taking on Giddings Monday night at Taylor High School. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.

Lance@LHIndependent.com

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