Perkins leads Panthers to victory
By Scott Akanewich
When Carson Perkins in on his game, he’s very difficult to guard and a perfect example of the Liberty Hill senior guard being nearly unstoppable was on display during the Panthers’ 69-52 home victory against Wimberley on Saturday.
Perkins lit up the Texans for 28 points on the afternoon, including four 3-pointers and a perfect 12-for-12 performance from the free-throw line as the visitors struggled in coping with the Panthers’ point guard.
In fact, Liberty Hill shot 94 percent from the charity stripe, hitting 15-of-16.
But, it was the Panthers’ inside play which befuddled the visitors, most notably sophomore forward Walker Weems, who poured in a career-high 16 points, most of them from close range as the lanky post player got open underneath the basket time and again.
“All I did was get open and my teammates found me with great passes,” said Weems. “Having Walker (Baty) down low opened up the paint because teams have to double him, which leaves me open.”
Weems hit the first basket of the contest, but then Perkins took over offensively, draining his first three of the game, then driving the lane and drawing a foul on the Panthers’ next possession before hitting both free-throws for an early 7-3 Liberty Hill lead.
Baty then made his presence known underneath with a power move for a bucket, followed by back-to-back Perkins baskets, the first of which was a 3-pointer.
After that sequence, Baty found himself on the end of a long pass before executing a nice reverse layup, then Kaleb Bannon hit a three to end the first quarter with the home side firmly in control at 22-11.
Wimberley got the first two baskets of the second quarter, but then Baty scored before Perkins drove to the hoop for two, then was fouled hard and drained both free throws, increasing the Purple-and-Gold advantage to 28-18.
The Panthers maintained the 10-point lead, which they took to the half at 34-24.
According to Liberty Hill head coach Barry Boren, his club was unable to pull away from the Texans due to an inability to clamp down on the visitors.
“Whenever we got ahead by 10, we just weren’t locked in,” said Boren. “They were getting offensive rebounds and hitting threes.”
As the second half got underway, the Panthers’ trademark smothering full-court press got the best of Wimberley on two separate occasions with a pair of 10-second violations, the first of which was sandwiched between a pair of Weems baskets to begin the third quarter.
Bannon then hit another three and Perkins drove to the basket and scored with a scoop shot, part of an 8-0 Liberty Hill run, which saw the Panthers outscore the Texans by a 16-8 margin in the third on the way to a 50-32 lead entering the final period.
Boren said the third-quarter resurgence was due to adjustments made by his players in the halftime locker room.
“They changed the defense and the way we were pressing,” he said. “The wings were helping defend the middle.”
But, the Texans weren’t about to ride quietly off in defeat, as they made a stand in the fourth quarter and actually outscored the Panthers, 20-19.
However, it simply wasn’t enough.
Perkins continued to drive the lane and draw fouls, while Weems and Walker kept scoring down low until only 1:05 remained and Boren subbed all five players on the court, allowing his bench to get some valuable playing time.
Senior guard Caeden Minix and junior forward Bobby Haddaway took full advantage by scoring the Panthers’ final two baskets of the contest to help seal the victory.
Baty added nine points in the win, while Kadin Knight and Bannon each contributed six to the cause.
Boren was pleased with his squad’s dominant inside play throughout the game.
“We’ve changed our method of operation a bit,” he said. “We have two guys down low with really good hands and three outside shooters who can score.”
The veteran bench boss also praised his reserves.
“Even the guys coming off the bench can score,” he said. “We have a good rotation of eight players.”
Boren attributed his team’s crisp play to what occurred two hours before the game.
“We had a good hour of practice,” he said. “So, that was a silver lining after yesterday.”
The game had been originally scheduled for Friday, but was moved to Saturday due to weather.
Liberty Hill (17-6) will next open district play at Salado on Jan. 17.