Panthers rout Eagles, Yellowjackets
By Paul Livengood
That one word describes the past eight quarters of basketball for the Lady Panthers.
Tuesday night, Liberty Hill started the game on an 18-0 run before Llano even scored a single point, which is all the Yellowjackets could muster in the first quarter. Bridget Hammes was put to the line after a shooting foul, and was only able to make one of two free throws. The Yellowjackets were held without a field goal for the entire first quarter.
Llano’s first bucket from the floor was a three pointer, and the shooter herself looked surprised when the shot fell. It was that kind of night for Llano and was due in large part to the Panthers’ high-pressure full court press.
Liberty Hill’s lockdown defense allowed them to record seven steals in the first quarter and finish the game with 20. Even when the Yellowjackets did get past the press, Sedona Prince was waiting for the ball carrier on the back end of the defense. Prince was a force under the rim, totaling six blocks in the game.
At halftime, the Lady Panthers led 36-7, and over half the Yellowjackets’ points at that time were converted at the free throw line. Liberty Hill held Llano to four free throws and a Hail Mary three-pointer that was banked in.
The starting guard trio of Bethany McLeod, Shaylin Vickers, and Madeline Cheney did their due diligence on the defensive end. The three combined for half of the team’s steal count.
Offensively, Liberty Hill shot 40 percent from the field and scored as a collective group. Three Lady Panthers scored double-digit points, and six players had five points or more. Prince led the way with 17 points on 7-for-15 shooting, with Faurie and Cheney adding 12 and 11 points, as well.
Many of Prince’s points came off put backs after crashing the boards—the junior hauled in five offensive rebounds in the game.
Knocking down three-point shots was an issue for the Panthers, as it has been in the past from time to time. Liberty Hill was 5-for-23 from downtown (21.7 percent). Lange has mentioned three-point shooting efficiency as a point of emphasis for his squad to improve at.
Liberty Hill defeated Llano 66-20, for the team’s fifth district win.
Last Friday’s game on the road in Salado ended in the same fashion as Llano’s, but started a bit differently.
Salado scored the first bucket of the game, whereas Llano didn’t score a basket until midway through the second quarter. What the Eagles did have in common with the Yellowjackets, however, is the deficit they faced early.
After draining the first bucket of the game, Liberty Hill responded by scoring the next 26 points before their run ended.
Again, the scoring leaders for the Panthers were Faurie, Prince and Cheney with 10, nine, and eight points, respectively.
Lange expressed content with his team’s performance.
“Pretty happy,” Lange said. “It’s a 30-point win against a district opponent. We got to work on some things that we don’t get to work on or see a lot.”
Salado slowed the tempo of the game down on Liberty Hill to limit their possessions, a strategy that Lange said was used by Kennedale, as well. Kennedale, who is now ranked number two in the 4A state rankings, defeated Liberty Hill Dec. 30, 2016, in the Whataburger Tournament championship game 65-43.
The Panthers currently sit at a comfortable 23-2 overall record and 5-0 in district.
The next team in Liberty Hill’s crosshairs will be none other than the Lampasas Badgers on Friday at 6:30 p.m. at Lampasas High School.
The junior varsity Lady Panthers continued rolling through their schedule with ease.
Tuesday, the JV defeated Llano 60-19. At one point, the Lady Panthers led 49-9, but allowed the JV Yellowjackets to outscore their previous three quarters combined with a 10-point fourth-quarter performance.
Gracie Whitten and Bailey Grant combined for 23 of the team’s 60 points. The two have played in a few tournament games with the varsity squad this season. Another standout was Wright, a freshman who was moved up to junior varsity a few weeks ago.
With the two wins, the JV team is now 13-2 overall on the season and 4-0 in district.
Next, the JV Lady Panthers will tip-off against Lampasas at 5:15 p.m. Friday at Lampasas High School.
9th Grade Update
The freshman girls basketball team imposed their will on the Yellowjackets freshman squad and defeated them 47-16.
The 30-point victory was the Lady Panthers’ 12th win on the year to improve their overall record 12-2 and 2-0 in district play.
Kailey Berzin lead the team with 10 points in the matchup. Ashley Nelson and Montana Sowell were the Panthers’ next highest scorers with eight a piece. Madison Sears added another six to Liberty Hill’s total.
The next freshman game will take place at Lampasas High school on Friday, where the team will square off with the Badgers. Tip-off is 8 p.m.