Panthers beat Smithville, advance to round 2 of playoffs
By KEITH SPARKS
AUSTIN — The Panther boys’ varsity basketball team is moving on to the second round of the playoffs after beating Smithville by a final score of 70-33 on Tuesday at Austin Akins High School. Liberty Hill was able to use their full-court press and size in the paint to their advantage from the get-go, going up 15-5 at the end of the first quarter.
“They just couldn’t keep up with our system of play,” Head Coach Barry Boren said. “Zach (Lord) and Josh (Sudekum) didn’t even play at all in the fourth quarter, and they scored 35 in the game between them.”
Liberty Hill was up 31-13 at halftime, as the Panther bigs — Lord and Sudekum — combined for 18 points in the first half.
Liberty Hill held Smithville to single-digit scoring in each of the first three quarters, giving up double digits in the fourth only because the starters had been pulled with the game out of reach at that point.
The third quarter was the highest-scoring quarter for the Panthers, as they finished with 23 points behind eight from Lord and six from Sudekum in the quarter. Sudekum finished with a game-high 19 points for the Panthers, while Lord finished with 16.
In a game with such a clear height advantage for the Panthers, the big win was all but expected, according to Coach Boren.
“This is what I thought we should do,” Boren said. “Their team was really excited to play us in the playoffs. Two years ago, we beat them by 32 points at their place, but tonight we played them even better and beat them by 37.”
Last week, Coach Boren challenged his team by listing five goals, the first of which was to win district, the second was to make the playoffs, the third was to win 20-plus games, the fourth was to advance in the playoffs, and the fifth was to win state.
“Going into the Burnet game, the only thing we had done was make the playoffs,” Boren said. “Tonight, we were able to get our 20th win and advance in the playoffs. The kids responded well to the challenge.”
The Panthers will play Waco La Vega in the second round of the playoffs on Friday night, at a time and location that have yet to be determined.
“They’ll be much better athletically,” Boren said of Waco La Vega. “They’ll pressure the ball, so we’ll just have to work on taking care of it. We’re supposed to be able to get the ball inside.
We’ll just have to do what we do.”