Tickets were sold out by 4 p.m. as Liberty County High School hosted Bradwell Institute in basketball games Friday night. The Panther and Tiger fan base cheered and yelled as the teams battled intense and close games. The Liberty girls edged out a 57-50 win against the Lady Tigers. The boys’ game had a seven point difference at the half but Liberty exploded in the third to win 120-80.
In the girls’ matchup Lady Tiger Alyssa McDuffie and Lady Panther Destiny Craig each opened the game nailing three-pointers. The girls matched basket for basket until turnovers started to effect the Bradwell girls, giving Liberty a few extra attempts at the bucket.
“I was a little disappointed with our effort…especially from a few of our more experienced players on the team,” Lady Tiger coach Faye Baker said. “I thought that we didn’t execute the way that we should have. We had 39 turnovers and that is going to kill you. You are not going to win many games turning the ball over that many times. And they killed us on the offensive boards as well. They got a lot of offensive boards that they put back. We didn’t do a good job of blocking out.”
Baker noted her team is young but needs to have better basketball IQ by the time they start their region games. She said she was pleased with guard Esperanza Castro.
“She has grown by leaps and bounds,” Baker said. “She was our backup point guard last year and now she is our primary ball-handler and still only in the 10thgrade…still very young but she has improved tremendously.”
Baker said she knew Liberty would be prepared for the challenge under new head coach Nichole Tazewell. “I knew coach Tazewell would have them ready. She was a great player and a great coach at Lewis Frasier Middle School so I knew she would do a great job over here.”
Lady Tiger Jasmin Blevins also opened her shooting with a three-pointer and led the Bradwell girls with 25 points.
Liberty’s Alaynna Flanders led the girls with 18 points and Craig had 15 points for Liberty.
Tazewell said the girls definitely turned this around since their loss last week at Jenkins.
“We still have a lot to work on but they were patient this time around,” she said. “They communicated more and looked better as a basketball team.”
She added to win against someone she considers a mentor is surreal at the moment.
“I am not a crier…but my eyes watered up,” she said. “I know coach Baker and she is a legend around here…she’s awesome…she knows basketball…a lot of her girls have gone on to play in Division I, and Division II and all types of basketball teams. To get a win against her…when I was a player I never got a win against Bradwell…this win will mean more to me than most people will ever know.”
In the boys game it was a close first half but Liberty took a significant lead in the second to win 120-80. Bradwell was just six points behind at the close of the first (23-17) and trailed by seven at the end of the second quarter of play (48-41).
In the third quarter Panther Davion Mitchell went to work nailing back-to-back three-pointers. He hit four of them back-to-back and finished the game with 10 trey shots and 42 points. Junior Will Richardson also had 42 points with four from the three-point range and was 8-of-10 at the line. Tyreon Freeman hit one three-pointer and chipped in 17 points. Senior Darrick Smoke came into the game in the final quarter of play and drained in nine points all of the them off three-point shots.
The Tigers were led by senior Darryll Johnson with 23 points to include three trey shots. He was 2-of-3 at the line. Da’Shaun Coleman contributed 14 points. Da Vaughn Felder scored nine points in the game. Brandon Hamlet, Justin James added eight points each.
The Lady Tigers are 0-1 and the Liberty girls are 1-1.
The Bradwell and Liberty girls will play Tuesday at the Joe Green Tournament. Bradwell plays Woodville-Tompkins at 3:30 p.m. The Liberty girls play Beach High at 7 p.m.
The Bradwell boys are 0-1 and the Liberty boys are 2-0.
The Tiger boys play Woodville-Tompkins at 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Joe Green Tournament. The Liberty boys opted to play in the Holiday Hoopsgiving Tournament in Covington Friday at 5 p.m. against Newton High.
Box scores girls’ game
BI 14|14|11|11 = 50
LCHS 11|20|7|19 = 57
Box scores boys’ game
BI 17|24|14|25 = 80
LCHS 23|24|36|37 = 120