Panthers fall to LBJ, go 2-3 in Liberty Hill Tournament

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Liberty Hill senior Clayton Kuhlmann (#12) shoots a floater in the lane against Hutto during tournament play over the weekend. The Panthers went 2-3 during the tournament. (Alex Rubio Photo)

By KEITH SPARKS

The Panther varsity basketball team fell to 5-5 on Tuesday, losing to LBJ High School by a final score of 69-63.

Tuesday night’s game was tied at halftime, but LBJ was able to break loose in the third quarter, scoring 22 to Liberty Hill’s 13 to take a nine-point lead heading into the fourth.

The Panthers were led by senior Josh Sudekum’s 28 points. The next highest scorers for Liberty Hill were Clayton Kuhlmann, Riley LaDuque, and Carter Ware with 8 each.

Over the weekend, the Panthers hosted the 2016 Liberty Hill Boys Basketball Tournament, joined by teams from all over the state, including schools from El Paso, Odessa, and Hidalgo, in addition to local high schools like Reagan, Lanier, Hutto, Dripping Springs and Bastrop.

Liberty Hill finished the tournament with a 2-3 record, losing their first game to Reagan by a score of 71-51, beating Odessa 56-54, beating Lanier 89-58, losing to Hutto 57-47, and losing to El Paso Americas in their last game by a final score of 39-24.

“They’re a very, very, very well-coached team,” said Panthers’ Head Coach Barry Boren about El Paso Americas. “We’re not going to play another team this year that’s going to be any better coached than that. We will get to some point where we’ll be glad that we played somebody like that, because what we’re doing is we’re collecting a library of things that we’re trying to do. Things that we’re doing well, we’re going to keep doing them. Things that we’re not doing well, we’re going to work on.”

El Paso Americas relied heavily on offensive execution, rather than athleticism and individual talent, to beat Liberty Hill. So far this season, Liberty Hill has, for the most part, been able to expose teams that rely on athleticism and speed, and have struggled against teams that execute a more calculated, cerebral offense.

“We do well when we play teams that are up-tempo,” Boren said, “because that’s how we like to play. We don’t do well when we have to execute offensively and defensively. The games that we did well, we were able to do what we wanted to do. The games that we didn’t, we didn’t do it.”

After the tournament, Coach Boren explained that taking losses to teams like El Paso Americas early in the season should pay dividends for the Panthers later on.

“You’d rather lose a game in December than lose one in February,” Boren said. “Even though our record might not show it, I think we’ve made some improvements. I think we’re getting better, and I think we’re becoming a better team.”

Senior Zach Lord led the Panthers in scoring in every game of the tournament, scoring 18 against Reagan, 21 against Odessa, 25 against Lanier, 16 against Hutto, and 10 against El Paso Americas. Senior Sudekum was also able to find his rhythm during the tournament, scoring 23 against Lanier and 14 against Reagan.

The Panthers will play in the Savio Tournament in Austin on Friday, Dec. 9, and Saturday, Dec. 10, at St. Dominic Savio Catholic High School, located at 9300 Neenah Ave. Their first game of the tournament will take place at 11:30 a.m. on Dec. 9 against Crockett, followed by a game against St. Mary’s Hall at 5:30 p.m. On Saturday, they’ll play Dripping Springs at noon and Savio at 4:30 p.m.

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