Liberty County traveled to Long County Saturday night. The Liberty girls defeated the Lady Tide, 67-32. The Panthers exploded for 29 points in the third quarter to beat the Blue Tide, 64-44.
Liberty 67, Long 32 (girls)
The Liberty Lady Panthers scored first and often leading Long County, 19-4 in the first quarter. Liberty continued to dominate the game, taking a 34-15 lead into the locker room at the half.
Liberty picked up with the same intensity after the first half on their way to the rout of the Lady Tide.
The Lady Panthers had four players in double figures. Courtney Rhodes and Tiara Howard scored 13 points each. Precious Williams and La’Shai Richardson finished with 10 points each.
Liberty opened the 2010-11 campaign with Long almost a month ago and much has changed for the Lady Panthers. After defeating Long and Beach, the Lady Panthers lost offensive catalyst Diamone Johnson early in a game against McIntosh.
Since the loss of Johnson, Liberty Head coach Carolyn Kelly has been reaching into her bag of tricks and trying to find the solution to replace Johnson’s 20-point-per-game performance, defensive presence and court leadership.
According to Kelly, the Long County game gave her squad a chance to see some personnel groupings and look at possible offensive and defensive sets for the future.
"We have started to work with 1-3-1 zone and we definitely can trap out of it and force pressure as long as we rotate correctly. It was successful and the more confidence we get, the better we can play — it especially putting an athletic player like Precious Williams on the back end to run the baseline," Kelly said.
Liberty continues to shuffle their offense in an effort to find a true point guard to run the offense and distribute the basketball. Kelly has moved a couple of guards inside and pulled true post Courtney Rhodes to the perimeter because of her ball handling and ability to be an outside shooting threat and also to score from inside the paint.
"We moved Tiara Howard and Precious Williams to a 3 and 4, which they should help us have more of an inside presence. Courtney handles the ball well and also can score inside. I have been really impressed with two freshman JV players that have been getting playing time with us, La ‘Shai Richardson and Bryonna Graham," Kelly said.
Liberty moves to 5-2 and has the week off to get ready for a visit to Beach High School on Saturday night.
"It’s always tough to play a team like Beach. We beat them the first time we played but they will be a much better team this time. They have a lot of strength inside and on the baseline offensively so we have to put pressure on the front court and keep the ball up high to have a chance to stop their offense," Kelly said.
Liberty 67, Long 32 (Girls)
Liberty top scorers: Tiara Howard 13, Courtney Rhodes 13, La’Shai Richardson 10, Precious Williams 10, Bryonna Graham 7, Alesia Haggans 5, Jasmina Smith 5, Charlee Coursey 4
Long- S.Richardson 12, J. Boyd 8, M. McDowell 6, L. Clary 2, L. Harris 2
Liberty 72, Long 56 (Boys)
Long County opened the game on 4-0 run. The Tide’s fast-paced defense forced several Liberty turnovers and beat the Panthers on the boards during the first quarter. Liberty trailed Long 16-15 after the first quarter of play.
The Tide continued to stay ahead of Liberty forcing the Panthers to play catch up most of the second quarter. Long held a 32-27 lead at the half.
"The first and second quarter we just didn’t handle the ball well and didn’t rebound at all. At the half we decided to change our approach and attack the defense and start capitalizing on turnovers," Panthers head coach Willie Graham said.
Graham’s half-time adjustments were a success. Liberty began attacking the Long defensive pressure and forced several turnovers.
Panther Michael Farrior scored 12 of Liberty’s 29 points in the third quarter to put the game out of reach for Long County.
Farrior led all scorers with 15 points. Tavoris Lewis had 14 points and Melvin King finished with 12 points.
Long County had three players in double figures. Jamal Anderson led the Blue Tide in scoring with 11 points. Jalen Futch and Akeem Boyd had 10 points each.
The Blue Tide drops to 1-4 on the season and will host Vidalia Friday night.
Liberty improves to 6-1 on the season and will face Beach on Saturday night. Liberty defeated Beach earlier in the season 70-68 in overtime.
"We will have to be ready for them. We won the first time but we have got to play better and we need to rebound better than we did in the first game," Graham said.
Liberty 72, Long 56 (Boys)
Liberty top scorer: Michael Farrior 15, Tavoris Lewis 14, Melvin King 12, Tucory Rhodes 9, Shakur Cook 6, Tabias Marion 6, Tarvon Walthour 4, Sayvon Wilson 2, Willis Bowman 1.
Long top scorer: J. Anderson 11, J. Futch 10, A. Boyd 10, A. Peoples 8, C. LaRochester 6, V. Gooding 5, J. Payne 2, C. Futch 2, J. Hall 2