Girls basketball outlasts Lampasas, moves to 4-0

Kandyn Faurie (#32) is fouled hard in the paint by two Lampasas Lady Badgers during a 50-39 victory in their fourth district game of the season. (Kathy Canady Photo)

Kandyn Faurie (#32) is fouled hard in the paint by two Lampasas Lady Badgers during a 50-39 victory in their fourth district game of the season. (Kathy Canady Photo)

By Taylor Grafft

Despite winning their fourth district game of the season by a double-digit margin, the Liberty Hill Lady Panther basketball team had to earn every minute of their home victory over the Lampasas Lady Badgers on Tuesday.

Senior point guard Shelby Whitten led the Lady Panthers in scoring with 14 points to help spark the 50-39 win. Senior shooting guard Ashlee Walker added 11 points and the team improved to 26-2 overall and 4-0 in district play.

Liberty Hill coach Matt Kirschner admitted during the postgame that this Lampasas team was much improved since the previous meeting between the two teams last season.

“Every year I play Lampasas they’re always one of the hardest teams I’ve faced,” Kirschner said. ”In my firm belief they’re the most improved team out of anybody we’ve seen from last year to this year.”

Lampasas came into the district game with a solid gameplan to break Liberty Hill’s full-court press, something the Lady Badgers have struggled with in the past, according to Kirschner.

“They had a great gameplan, press break wise,” Kirschner said. ”That’s something they hadn’t done in the past. Now they have kids that can execute it. In the past they’ve always tried to dribble through the press. This year they’re moving the ball and trying to move it through the middle. That hurts us at times. We like a transition game, but they got more transition than we did (Tuesday). So it’s a game film I’m going to really go back and study.”

Liberty Hill outscored Lampasas 13-11 in the second quarter and the Lady Panthers took a six-point, 24-18 lead into halftime, but weren’t satisfied with their production on offense or defense.

Kirschner tried several different rotations throughout the game—even rotations they had not worked on in practice—in an effort to find a lineup that worked.

The varying rotations also allowed the Lady Panther starters to catch their breath, something they’re not normally used to experiencing.

Lampasas ran the floor so well on the fast break and when breaking the press that it forced Liberty Hill to chase after them for all four quarters. Usually it’s the Lady Panthers’ opponents that are doing the chasing.

“As hard as we had to play defensively it’s hard for kids to play a lot of minutes,” Kirschner. “They just get worn out. So I had to route more, but that’s why I have a deep bench. I’m willing to play them all and I want to play them all.”

Walker struggled shooting the ball early in the game, but made two momentum-changing steals in the final minute to secure the win. Her first steal came with 52 seconds remaining. The senior jumped the passing lane and sprinted up the court after picking up the ball, she was then fouled on the fast break and drained both free throws.

Twenty seconds later Walker forced another turnover, but this time she turned on an extra gear on the fast break and scored an uncontested layup, leaving her opponents behind.

Whitten was dialed in from the free-throw line on Tuesday going 7-for-8. The senior was aggressive in her attack of the basket, and her excellent ball handling forced the Lampasas defenders to stop her the only way they could—by fouling her and making her earn the points from the line.

Lampasas actually outscored Liberty Hill 10-9 in the final quarter, with four of Liberty Hill’s points coming in the final minute.

The Lady Panthers were never really in jeopardy of losing the game, but Tuesday’s adversity will certainly make them realize they still have work to do before they can reach the level they want.

Still winning by double digits will make any coach and team happy, but at Liberty Hill there are high expectations put on the players. A majority of those expectations are self-inflicted by the players because of their competitive natures and desire to win.

Liberty Hill’s next district game is a big one. They travel to Burnet on Friday, Jan. 23, to take on the Lady Bulldogs in the two rivals’ first meeting of the season.

Other girls basketball scores from around the district on Tuesday night were: Taylor defeating Llano 70 to 45, and Burnet beating Salado 58-37.