Liberty County girls cruised to a 55-26 win against the Long County Lady Tide Tuesday night. Panthers boys players Tobias Marion, Melvin King, and Tucory Rhodes combined for 40 points to outlast the Blue Tide, 65-46.
Liberty 55, Long 26 (girls)
The Lady Panthers didn’t waste much time in their season opener against Long County on Tuesday night at Liberty County High School.
Liberty (1-0) opened the game on a run and never looked back, winning 55-26 behind a full court press that forced a number of turnovers.
The Lady Panthers consumed the Lady Tide on defense. In the first quarter alone Liberty’s half and full court press and traps yielded seven turnovers.
"One thing we will always be able to do is press," Liberty County coach Carolyn Kelly said. "Since we are still developing perimeter shooters and ball handlers, an effective press gives us a chance to score in the back court."
Though Long County continued to battle, Liberty continued to force turnovers and Courtney Rhodes went on her own run of eight points near the end of the second period before Long County’s Miranda McDowell hit a 3-pointer to cut Liberty’s lead to 28-13 at the half.
Liberty came out of the locker room in the third period and utilized its lead to get more players game experience early in the season.
Rhodes led all Liberty scorers with 20 points and Diamone Johnson chipped in 10.
Shamika Richardson led Long County with 10 points. Richardson finished with 8.
Though Liberty turned in an above average night producing multiple turnovers off of their press, the Lady Panthers had their issues.
The Lady Panthers were an anemic eight of 22 from the free throw line against
The Lady Panthers are in the process of trying to develop a true point because of graduation. Kelly also hopes the team will start developing some perimeter shooters.
"It’s early in the season, so players are trying to find their roles," she said.
The Lady Panthers now face perennial Savannah power Beach.
"Beach is a very tough opponent. They are well coached, talented and disciplined," Kelly said.
Liberty tips off against Beach Friday night at Liberty High School 6:30 p.m. Friday night.
Liberty 13 15 7 20-55
Long 4 8 3 11-26
Liberty top scorers: Courtney Rhodes 20, Diamone Johnson 10, Tiara Howard 9, Kimberly Payno 6, Charlee Coursey 3, Precious Williams 1, Jasmina Smith 1, Brittany Brown 1.
Long top scorers: Shamika Richardson 10, Miranda McDowell 8, Jameka Boyd 3, Brittany Hall 3, Raven Rose 2.
Liberty 65, Long 46 (boys)
After a tough first half, Liberty County, playing at home, pulled away from Long County in the third quarter to take a hard-fought 65-46 win over Long County.
But it wasn’t a pretty win, Liberty County coach Willie Graham said.
"We need work on everything," he said. "We hustled for the most part but were out of control or place most of the time."
From the opening tip, both teams flew up and down the floor exchanging baskets and fouls. The game was physical with 15 fouls in the first period and both teams were in the double bonus early in the second period
The Panthers (1-0) led 30-25 at halftime, but Liberty’s Melvin King had six points during an eight-point Liberty run to begin the third quarter.
Leading 40-30 Liberty’s Tabias Marion broke away and was able to streak down the court to get a slam that electrified the crowd.
Yet Long County (0-1) continued to battle. Baskets from Tide players Robert Reed and Jamal Anderson along with a free throw cut Liberty’s lead to 42-35.
The Panthers responded with a 10-point run, the last basket coming off a 3-pointer from Tucory Rhodes. Long County kept playing but the 18 point deficit was too much.
Liberty had three players finish in double digits. Tabias Marion led all scorers with 18 points. Melvin King and Tucory Rhodes finished with 11 points each. Michael Farrior chipped in nine.
Jamal Anderson had 13 points and Robert Reed had 12 for Long County.
The Panthers lost a lot of experience from last year’s team including Jordan McRae, now at Tennessee, and Rion Brown who is playing for Miami.
"We lost four major players last year, the most critical of them being point guard Julian Stokes. We don’t have that controlling factor yet," Graham said.
Liberty now hosts Beach High School Friday night.
"Beach is always a tough opponent," Graham said. "This early in the season, we will be tested in all areas and positions. To win we must play more under control and be more fundamentally consistent on defense and rebounding on both ends."
Liberty 18 12 23 13-65
Long 12 13 10 12-46
Liberty top scorers: Tabias Marion 18, Tucory Rhodes 11, Melvin King 11, Michael Farrior 9, Shakur Cook 7, Tavonis Lewis 5, Deante Bacon 2, Sayvon Wilson 2.
Long top scorers: Jamal Anderson 13, Robert Reed 12, Johnnie Jones 8, Akeem Boyd 6, Jaylon Futch 3, Jurquez Payne 2, Josh Berry 1, Jamal Posey 1.