LHHS opens season with Boren’s 700th win

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By Keith Sparks

In their first game of the regular season on Tuesday night, the Panthers had more than their own pride to play for. Head Coach Barry Boren sat at 699 wins prior to the final buzzer, and the Panthers made sure he got to 700 with a 61-55 win over Hutto.

Boren made it clear, however, that Tuesday night wasn’t about his 700th win. After losing to Hutto in fall league by a big margin, Boren wanted to see his team protect home court on Tuesday.

“Like I told them before, we weren’t playing tonight for my 700th win,” Boren said. “That’s not the focus. I told them what we’re doing is trying to protect our house this evening. People come in here, and you guys saw the swagger when they beat us in fall league, you saw that, you experienced that, you listened to it, you watched it. It felt like from the tip, we did that.”

In fall league, the Panthers lost to Hutto by 35 points, so Boren was concerned headed into Tuesday’s game, but they used that fall league game to their advantage, practicing against Hutto’s defensive sets and learning how to beat them.

The Panthers struggled against Hutto’s double teams in fall league, but last night, they tore it apart with smart passing.

“They double-teamed us, and we hadn’t worked on it, yet, because it was early,” Boren said of their blowout loss in fall league. “You saw it tonight. They double-teamed us and we panicked some, but we were in better places. Today, we did a walkthrough and set the floor up just like it was set up tonight, and we ran people at the ball and said, ‘Ok, here’s what you’ve got every time. Down the line, middle, opposite, behind the ball. If we can get it to the middle, it will just fall downhill. The times that we got it to the middle, executed, and didn’t panic, we got layups out of it.”

Liberty Hill got out to a big lead quickly on back-to-back threes from point guard Carson Perkins and shooting guard Parker McCurdy. Those two shot lights-out all night, being selective with their jump shots and finishing with efficient shooting splits.

The combination of hot outside shooting and steals in the press was too much for Hutto to handle in the first quarter as the Panthers got out to a 23-10 lead headed into the second.

The Panthers’ shooting cooled off a bit in the second quarter, and Hutto was able to get some easy buckets in the paint. The Panthers got a few of their own easy buckets, though, with full-court pressure and steals that led to layups, taking a 36-30 lead into halftime.

Both teams struggled to get anything going offensively in the third quarter as fatigue seemed to set in, but every time Hutto made a run, Liberty Hill stifled the Hippos with a timely steal. At the end of the third, the Panthers held a 47-39 lead.

The Panthers began to run away with in the fourth, forcing turnover after turnover in the press and getting to the free throw line. The Panthers struggled from the free throw line a bit, but made enough to maintain the lead, winning by a final score of 61-55.

McCurdy finished the game with 15 points, and Perkins and Jareck Naylor each finished with 14 points. Boren admitted the Panthers were sloppy at times, but leaned on their starters down the stretch.

“We had some chances where we kind of fell apart, but then we got in right spots and made some big plays,” Boren said. “I think it’s a testament to our guys that have been there a little bit. Parker, Jareck, Cade (Cole), David (Basalla), Carson. Those are the guys whose coattails we kind of rode at the end.”

On Saturday, the Panthers will play a home game against Marble falls at 3:30 p.m., followed by an away game on Monday, Nov. 19 at St. Dominic Salvio and a home game on Tuesday against China Spring at 7:30 p.m.

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