Liberty County High School’s basketball teams played Region 3-AAAA tournament games last week, and the Panther boys took home the championship trophy.
The boys played at Thomson High on Thursday night, winning 80-54. That set up the Panthers in Friday’s championship game at Waynesboro against Burke County. The Panthers won the nail-biter, 55-54.
Panther Richard LeCounte dropped in 22 points against Thomson. Davion Mitchell added 16 points, and Jishaun Harris had 11.
Friday night, the boys battled from behind as Burke County took a seven-point lead in the first quarter and held the advantage until the fourth quarter. The intensity was measurable as the squads traded shots. Panther head coach Willie Graham made final adjustments in the fourth quarter and the boys outscored the Bears, 21-10, for the one-point win.
Complete game stats had not been posted as of the Courier’s press time.
Graham said the Panther boys now will host the first round of the state playoffs, which will be at 6 p.m. Wednesday. He added it looks like the Panthers will play Henry County to start the state run. The boys go into Wednesday’s game 21-4 overall and 11-1 in region play.
The Lady Panthers fell Tuesday in the first tournament game to New Hampstead, 58-55.
It was a disappointing loss for the Lady Panthers, who beat New Hampstead twice in the regular season.
Lady Phoenix Tiara Thomas put up
28 points to help New Hampstead pull away for the victory despite a big surge by the Liberty girls in the final quarter of play.
Liberty trailed 27-20 at the half, and the Lady Phoenix extended the lead in the third by 14 points. The Liberty girls put on the pressure in the fourth quarter and closed the gap by outscoring the Lady Phoenix 23-12. But the rally was a bit too late, and New Hampstead held on to win by three points.
Hurting the Lady Panthers was another hard game at the line, where they hit only 7-of-19. Coach Carolyn Kelly chose Tia Fleming as the player of the game for her double-double performance of 19 points and 13 rebounds.
Senior Jaelyn James hit 11 points, Destiny Craig added eight, Tiara Ramsey scored five, and Navia Telfair, Jasmine Brooks and Kiara Edwards all hit four points each.
James finished her senior year scoring 279 points. Fleming, a junior, hit 351 points this year. Ramsey and Brooks, both freshmen, scored 96 and 87, respectively, to round out the top four. Fleming averaged 12.3 rebounds per game.
The Lady panthers finished the year 8-13 overall and 5-5 in Region 3-AAAA.