The Liberty County Lady Panthers snapped a four-game losing streak Tuesday by routing Wayne County 61-41.
It couldn’t have come at a better time, Liberty County coach Carolyn Kelly said.
"This is the best we have played since early December. We really needed this momentum at a crucial time in region play," she said. "We have been struggling a lot but tonight we started to get back on the right track."
Liberty turned in an effort Friday that had been missing in recent contests, as players dived for loose balls and hustled all over the court.
The Lady Panthers turned up the fensive pressure on Wayne County and forced turnovers throughout the first half.
"We have been really stressing in practice that you have to want the basketball and you have got to everything in your power to get it. Tonight we showed that we wanted to play hard and play the way we are capable of. We are still not hustling all of the time but we are improving," Kelly said.
The game stayed close throughout the first period, but the Lady Panthers went on a scoring binge in the second period, putting up 26 points and making seven of nine from the charity stripe to build a 37-27 halftime lead.
Liberty used strong ball movement and rebounding to keep Wayne County from ever getting back into the game.
Courtney Rhodes heaved a shot from near the half-court line as time expired in the third quarter and gave the Lady Panthers a 55-33 lead.
They milked the clock to seal the win.
"We had so much better ball movement tonight. We looked for better shot selection that made us more accurate. We also worked on better entry passes into the post," Kelly said.
The Lady Panthers had three players finish in double figures. Rhodes led all scorers with 26 points. Precious Williams contributed 15 points. Catherine Scaggs finished with 10 points, and Kymberli Payno banked nine.
The win gives Liberty some breathing room in the region as they host Ware County tonight.
"Right now, we kind of control our destiny. We told the girls we don’t want to finish last in the region because if you do, you will have to play a powerhouse like Statesboro. But there isn’t that much difference between a No. 4-5 seed or a No. 2-3 seed. Ware is going to be quick and athletic, but I think since we are playing better now we can play with them as long as match up with their quick guards and stop them in transition. They really hurt us in transition last time," Kelly said.
Liberty top scorers:Courtney Rhodes 26, Precious Williams 15, Catherine Scaggs 10, Kymberli Payno 9, Jasmina Smith 6, La’Shai Richardson 4