Runnin’ Panthers 4-0 at St. Dominic Savio Tournament

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By Keith Sparks

The Panther basketball team, whose record sits at an impressive 13-3 following an undefeated tournament performance at St. Dominic Savio in Austin, played the 13-1 Lorena Leopards in an away game Tuesday night, ultimately losing by a final score of 59-51.

Prior to the game, Liberty Hill Head Coach Barry Boren noted that the Leopards returned all five of last year’s starters, whom the Panthers beat in the 2018 playoffs in February.

“Lorena is 12-1 and we’re 13-2,” Boren said going into the game, “and they’ve got all five starters back from the team we beat in the Area game last year,”

Unfortunately, Boren said after the game that his team simply didn’t come ready to play against Lorena, looking at a 32-12 deficit at halftime. Against Lorena, the Panthers were led by Jareck Naylor with 19. Carson Perkins and Kaleb Bannon each added 10.

Last weekend, the Runnin’ Panthers had a strong showing at St. Dominic Savio’s Tournament, going 4-0 against Savio, Legacy Christian Academy, Austin Royals HomeSchool, and San Antonio Lutheran.

“We came out in the tournament, and we had only beat Savio by 13 the last time we played them, but this time we beat them by 30,” Boren said. “Then we’re playing a team that’s only a Class A team, but they’re going to be good in their division, and they have a kid that’ll play college ball, and we beat them by 30. Then we’re playing the Austin Royals, which is a homeschool team, and they look good. We beat them by 25. Then we’re playing this Lutheran school from the biggest church in San Antonio, and I felt like they were the best team, but we got up to a 20-point lead and wound up beating them by 12.”

On Friday, the Panthers opened the tournament with an 85-55 win over Savio after jumping out to a 26-9 lead in the first quarter. Liberty Hill was led by Naylor, who scored a season-high 26 points in the win and went 9 for 10 from the free-throw line. Perkins had 16 in the win, followed by Parker McCurdy with 15 and Bannon with 10.

In their second game on Friday, Liberty Hill played Legacy Christian Academy, winning by a final score of 76-44 behind a balanced effort from the entire team. Perkins led with 17, Naylor and Bannon added 10 each, and Kadin Knight added nine.

On Saturday, Liberty Hill beat Austin Royals HomeSchool 68-47 behind a 20-point performance from Perkins. Cade Cole added 11 and McCurdy and Bannon each added 10.

In their final game of the tournament, the Panthers played San Antonio Lutheran, who they beat by a final score of 85-73 after getting out to a 20-point lead earlier in the game with a well-balance scoring effort. Perkins led with 22 points, followed by Cole with 16, Naylor with 15, McCurdy with 14, and Bannon with 10.

Before the tournament began, the Liberty Hill basketball team lost a starter in David Basalla, who decided after playing in the first 11 games to sit out the rest of his senior season. Boren admitted that all four games in the tournament were games they should have won handily, but was glad they had the opportunity to do so while tinkering with lineups and adjusting to Basalla’s departure.

“All four games were games that we should’ve won, and we won them all handily,” Boren said. “You’ve got to have some games like that, so it was a good thing that we played them at the time that we did, having to miss a player.”

To adjust, Boren moved Bannon into the starting lineup and slightly increased playing time for Cole Ondrasek and Jackson Levee. By Christmas time, the Panthers will also be able to add big men Walker Baty and Kory Schmidt, both of which are starting at defensive end for the football team in the State Semifinals on Friday.

The Runnin’ Panthers were originally scheduled to play St. Michael’s at home on Friday, but the game has been moved to Saturday at 2:30 p.m. to allow the basketball team to attend the football State Semifinal. The following Tuesday, Dec. 18, the Panthers will play Waco Robinson in an away game.

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