Liberty County High School hoped for a sweep when Region 2A-AAAA foe Ware County came to call for a basketball doubleheader.
It didn’t happen. Instead, the Lady Panthers earned what the coach called an ugly win against Ware County while the boys dropped their third region game of the season Tuesday night at home.
The girls’ 61-53 win against Ware wasn’t pretty, but it was a still a win, Liberty County girls’ coach Carolyn Kelly said.
“Tonight was ugly. We didn’t play as well as we wanted to, but we were still able to get a region win. Defensively, we played horrible,” Kelly said.
The Lady Panthers totally dominated Ware County in the first quarter. Leading 24-8 in the second quarter, Liberty started to relax and Ware County was able to show signs of life. Ware put together a couple of scoring runs, aided by Liberty turnovers and missed layups.
After wholesale substitution the Panthers went back with starters and a tight man-to-man defense the rest of the first half.
“We had to change up the defenses a lot during the game. We finally had to go to full court man to make sure we picked up the ball. The press is really helped us in the second half,” Kelly said.
Ware scored the first points of the third quarter, but Liberty forced three turnovers and went on an eight-point run. Liberty controlled the offensive pace of the game until the final minutes of the third quarter when Ware got some quick transition buckets, forcing Liberty to slow down the basketball and play possession basketball.
The Lady Gators cut the Liberty lead to 53-40 in the fourth quarter. Liberty responded with Diamond Johnson hitting Tiara Howard with a bounce pass for a layup.
Liberty’s cold shooting from the field in the fourth quarter allowed Ware to stay in the game. Ware knocked down a three pointer added a layup in the final 43 seconds forcing a Liberty timeout. The Lady Gators were able to grab the in bounds pass from Liberty and scored on its first trip down the floor.
The Lady Panthers grabbed Diamone Johnson intercepted a Ware pass and scored off a layup ending the Ware rally.
“We missed way to many easy lay ups throughout the game but especially in the second half. We are still trying to get more production from our inside game. They posts are getting the touches they are just not handling the ball as well as we need them to,” Kelly said.
Liberty had three players in double figures against Ware. Guard Bryonna Graham put in 14 points. Tiara Howard and Johnson finished with 11 points each.
The Lady Panthers move to 8-5 and even more important 2-2 in the region 4A-AAAA. Liberty hosts Glynn for a region contest Friday night.
“Glynn has some size and as a team are very quick. They have a girl that is about 5’10” and this is a region game so we have to be ready,” Kelly said.
Liberty 61, Ware 53
Liberty 24 14 15 8- 61
Ware 8 18 12 15- 53
Liberty- Bryonna Graham 14, Tiara Howard 11, Diamone Johnson 11, Brianna Reece 6, Jasmina Smith 6, Emoni Fisher 5, Kymberli Payno 4, Courtney Rhodes 2.
Ware 53, Liberty 47
Ware 12 13 16 12-53
Liberty 14 11 12 10-47
Liberty- Sayvon Wilson 14, Aaron Scott 13, Derrick Brooks 12, Melvin King 4, Conner Bailey 4.