The Liberty County Lady Panthers won the Region 2-AAAA consolation tournament, beating Effingham County, 47-40. Liberty is also the No. 3 seed as the state tournament begins this week.
“I was happy with the way we played today,” Lady Panthers head coach Carolyn Kelly said. “Defensively, we played much better. We played a straight-up 2-3, taking away the inside from Effingham. Our pressure helped us out a lot. Even after we lost to Richmond Hill Friday night in the semifinals, I told the girls that there isn’t a lot of difference between a two and three seed. The biggest difference is we have to travel to the two seed.”
The game was close in the first quarter. In the second, Liberty had to set down Courtney Rhodes and Diamone Johnson because they had three fouls each. Effingham was 11-of-13 from free throw line in the second quarter, and the Lady Rebels led 19-16 at the half.
“We didn’t move our feet the way we should, and we got called for reaching and some of the calls were back-to-back,” Kelly said.
It was a seesaw battle early but the Lady Panthers transition game took over. Liberty outscored Effingham 16-6 in the third quarter. Offensive rebounds and a forced turnover allowed Liberty to score six points in the final 10 seconds of the third quarter. “We had to make sure that we slowed down Effingham because they have a lot of speed. Besides playing good defense we really worked on the boards. Rhodes, Johnson, Kymberli Payno and Tiara Howard really crashed the boards for us,” the coach said.
Johnson led all Liberty scorers with 12 points. Bryonna Graham put in 11. Jasmina Smith finished with 9.
Liberty plays the first round of the AAAA state tournament this weekend at Northside Warner Robins.
The Lady Eagles finished 21-5 after losing to Warner Robins in the Region 1-AAAA championship game, 73-47.
“Bradwell played them in the Christmas tournament so I will get some information and tape from them,” Kelly said.
Liberty 47, Effingham 40
Liberty 5 11 16 15-47
Effingham 8 11 6 15-40
Liberty top scorers: Diamone Johnson 12, Bryonna Graham 11, Jasmina Smith 9, Brianna Reece 6, Tiara Howard 5, Courtney Rhodes 2, Kymberli Payno 2