Panthers pull away in 3rd to beat Burnet
By Paul Livengood
BURNET — The Liberty Hill girls basketball team defeated arch rival Burnet Bulldogs Tuesday, 71-40.
The 31-point victory occurred despite what Coach Chris Lange told his team at halftime that the first half was some of the worst basketball the team had played all season.
“The first half was pretty bad basketball by our standards,” Lange said. “Even though we had a 10-to-12-point lead… we came out a little tight.”
Burnet came out swinging and put Liberty Hill in a 6-2 deficit that was held for nearly half of the first quarter. Junior forward Kandyn Faurie willed the Panthers to a 13-10 lead after the first quarter, scoring the team’s first 11 points of the game. Faurie combated the Panthers’ poor shooting and offensive execution by getting to the free throw line, which counted for five of her 11 first quarter points.
Junior guard Bethany McLeod scored the only other basket in the first quarter for Liberty Hill via a steal in the full court press defense.
The referees made it clear they were calling a tight game from the opening tip as well. Shaylin Vickers got in foul trouble early on questionable calls and was forced to sit out much of the first half as a result.
“I’ll be honest, this was probably the tightest called ball game I’ve had (this season),” Lange said. “I don’t understand why it was called the way it was. But as a coach and as a team, we have to adjust to the officials that are calling. They called it super super tight in some areas, and we have to live with it. We have to play better.”
The referees also handed out a technical foul in the second quarter to Burnet Head Coach David Schubert after complaining excessively about the officiating.
With Vickers out a majority of the game, Andrea House filled in and stepped up on the defensive side of the ball. House recorded a team-high and game-high eight steals. Two of those eight steals took place on back-to-back possessions in the third quarter that led to easy layups, and McLeod added a third steal in a row in which Faurie scored to cap a 6-0 Panther run in a matter of seconds.
“Andrea and Bethany did a great job in the press,” Lange said.
The third quarter is where Liberty Hill ran away with the game. The Panthers led 32-21 at halftime, and entering the fourth quarter, led 60-32.
“I said (at halftime), let’s come out and play our type of basketball,” Lange said. “Let’s be disciplined in our offense. Let’s play possession basketball. And that’s exactly what we did.”
Sedona Prince found her shot in the second half after scoring only one point in the first half. Prince ended the game with nine points and fouled out with 3:44 left in the fourth quarter.
Faurie led the team with 26 points, while House and McLeod added 10 points apiece.
Defensively, McLeod added six steals to House’s eight, accounting for over three-fourths of the team’s steals between the two.
The Panthers did have some trouble containing two things. First, junior guard Marissa Escamilla, who found her way through the defense and scored 21 points on 7-for-11 shooting. Then, Liberty Hill had trouble stopping the three ball. Burnet scored 15 of its 21 first half points from three-pointers.
Senior guard Izzy Ramon and sophomore guard Emma Lewis added to the Bulldogs’ three-point production. Both guards scored all their points from three. Ramon ended the game with six points while Lewis scored nine.
“(Escamilla) is a heck of a player,” Lange said. “She is a go getter. She’s a winner. You kind of do have to game plan for her. We talked about what she can and can’t do. #11 is a good three-point shooter. And Izzy, too. We have to do a better job at closing out.”
Liberty Hill now gets a bit of a break. Next up for the Panthers is the 59th annual Whataburger Tournament on Dec. 28-30. Liberty Hill will take the court with Lake County Christian in a “play-in game”. The Panthers must defeat the Eagles in order to bid themselves into the tournament.
In the last tournament in Fredericksburg, the Panthers finished in first place defeating Dilley 86-17, Fredericksburg 60-33, Boerne Champion 69-34, Marion 62-37, and finally Blanco 78-15.