Lady Panthers swat La Vernia, move to Area round


AUSTIN — The Liberty Hill girls basketball team had to overcome a rough first half shooting the ball to beat La Vernia, 73-39, in the bi-district playoffs on Tuesday.

La Vernia opened the game with an aggressive zone defense that Coach Matt Kirschner and his players hadn’t faced yet this season.

“(La Vernia) was a scrappy team,” Kirschner admitted. ”They played a whole lot harder (Tuesday night) than when I saw them play (last Friday). Their coach did a great job in getting the girls prepared for us.”

Going into halftime, La Vernia was still within striking distance despite a 31-22 Liberty Hill lead.

However, Kirschner had a plan coming out of the locker room on how to defeat the zone defense. He plugged in a bigger lineup, opting for more post players than guards or wings.

Once the Lady Panthers started attacking La Vernia’s zone from the middle with players like Kandyn Faurie, Allee Nix, and Megan Huppee, they began to break down their opponent and built a comfortable lead.

“In the second half we really started stressing inside play and tried to get two bigs playing together,” Kirschner said. ”That allowed us to have more presence inside.”

After the second-half adjustment, the Lady Panthers found themselves with a lot more room to run their offense and started getting their shots to fall at a higher percentage.

One player in particular who played a vital role in maintaining the Lady Panthers’ lead in the first half was Huppee. Huppee was relentless in her drives to the bucket and finished the first half with six points.

Even with the win, the team, at times, showed a lack of hustle or desire to fight for rebounds, which resulted in La Vernia having plenty of second-chance point opportunities.

“In the second half we did a better job of rebounding the ball,” Kirschner said. “In the first half they out-rebounded us. Their girls were smaller, but they were scrappy and got after it. Several times we just watched the ball come off the rim and didn’t get after it. Rebounding is supposed to be selfish. Go get the ball. I can live with fouls when going for a rebound as long as you’re showing an effort to go up and get (the ball).”

Up next for Liberty Hill is a feisty and physical Columbia team in the Area round. That game will be played at 7 p.m. Friday in Smithville.

The Columbia High School mascot is the Roughneck and that nickname should hold true when the Panthers face them in the second round.

Columbia started out their non-district schedule with plenty of wins, but started to suffer a few losses here and there in tournaments and in district play.

Columbia is in District 28, which was led by Brazosport. Brazosport finished undefeated in district play.

Columbia is led by head coach Patrice Ward, who will have her players fighting for every rebound and making Liberty Hill earn each point.

“(Columbia) will play you man-to-man and play you physical,” Kirschner said. “They have some strong, big girls in the post. I don’t have much film on them, but we can compare common opponents. Liberty Hill beat McNeil and they lost to McNeil. So when you run the numbers you should be okay on paper. But that’s why you play the game.”