Saturday was a different night than Friday, but it was the same script for the Liberty County basketball teams.
The Lady Panthers lost a close game at home to Burke County, 46-39 — their second-straight close loss. However, the Panthers beat Burke, 70-53, for their second 20-plus-point victory in two days.
Liberty led by three at the end of the first quarter, but it was the last time the Lady Panthers led in the first half.
The Lady Panthers had an off night from the floor, hitting 14 of 54 field-goal attempts. However, the Lady Panthers’ true nemesis is how many free throws they are missing. On Friday, Liberty lost to Wayne County by only four points and missed more than free-throw attempts. Against Burke, Liberty missed 14 free throws, finishing 11-for-25.
“We are definitely young, and I think that can hurt us at crucial times during the game, especially at the free-throw line,” Liberty coach Carolyn Kelly said. “Shooting and making free throws is a lot of confidence. We are gaining the confidence, but we still need more to get us to the consistency we need to be at for the rest of the season.”
Kelly said the Lady Panthers played some really good basketball, but inexperience and youth have hampered some of that development.
“We are young with only one senior,” she said. “If we keep working and progressing, we should be getting better this second half of the season.”
Burke 46, Liberty 39
Liberty scoring — L. Fleming 12, T. Ramsey 12, J. James 5, N. Telfair 4, J. Brooks 4, A. Flanders 2.
LCHS sophomores Davion Mitchell and Richard LeCounte combined for 46 points, over half of the team total, in a strong win.
Mitchell led all scorers with 25 points, and LeCounte had 21 points. JiShaun Harris scored eight points.
The athletic Bears kept Liberty on its toes, but the Panthers’ strong transition game gave them a 36-28 lead at halftime.
In the third quarter, the Panthers started fast and never looked back, outscoring Burke by 11 points in the period.
The Panthers moved to 15-4 record and a 5-1 record in Region 3-AAAA, which tied them with Burke County for the region lead.
Liberty’s six-game winning streak will get tested Friday when the Panthers host Thomson in region action.
Liberty 70, Burke 53
Liberty scoring — D. Mitchell 25, R. LeCounte 21, J. Harris 8, T. White 6, T. Freeman 4, T. Reece 3, L. Brown 2, M. Wallace 1.