The Liberty County High School basketball teams split games Saturday in non-region action at Jenkins in Savannah.
The Liberty girls beat the Lady Warriors, 44-34, while the boys lost, 49-38, for their second straight loss.
The Lady Panthers’ more methodical style and decision-making comes one week before they take on Region 3A-AAAA foe South Effingham. The Lady Mustangs beat the Lady Panthers, 58-43, on Jan. 10.
Both teams on Saturday came out a bit flat-footed offensively, and the scoring didn’t start to take off until the second quarter.
LCHS senior guard Brianna Reece paced the girls with 13 points. Fellow senior center/forward Kymberli Payno continued to demonstrate why she is garnering looks from collegiate scouts. The 6-foot-2 Payno was second on the team in scoring Saturday with 11 points.
Free throws continued to be an area of concern. Liberty made 5 of 10 from the line, a percentage that will not hold this Friday when they travel to play the Lady Mustangs.
Liberty improved to 11-10 overall and 2-2 in its sub-region.
The Lady Panthers have three games remaining in the regular season. In addition to playing Friday at South Effingham, they host Bradwell on Feb. 1 and play their final region game
Feb. 7 at Wayne County. To date, sophomore Tia Fleming leads the Lady Panthers in scoring with 10.7 points per game. Reece is averaging 9.5, James is averaging eight and Bryonna Graham is averaging 7.4 points per game.
Girls’ box score
LCHS — 6/16/6/16: 55
JHS — 2/13/9/10: 34
Liberty scoring: Brianna Reece 13, Kymberli Payno 11, Dazya Ingram 6, Bryonna Graham 5, Jaleynn James 2, Tia Fleming 2
Jenkins demonstrated why it holds the top spot in Region 3-AAAAA.
The Panthers, who normally have a few players score in double digits, were held in check by the Warriors’ defense. Daivon Mitchell led Liberty with nine points. The Warriors were careful to keep the ball away from Liberty’s Freddie McSwain and Conner Bailey, hurting Liberty’s post game. McSwain nabbed 12 rebounds, but was not able to capitalize on every opportunity.
Panther coach Willie Graham said the Warriors played a physical game.
Fortunately for Liberty, the Warriors’ 3A-region dominance will pose a threat to Bradwell, who they play next week, but will not hurt the Panthers’ mark of 3-1. As of Tuesday morning, Liberty was tied with Statesboro for the top spot in its sub-region.
The Panthers are 15-6 overall.
McSwain leads the Panthers in scoring with 16.1 points per game. Bailey averages 12.4 points, and LeCounte is averaging 10.2 points per game. McSwain leads in rebounds with 211, while Bailey has 126.
Liberty plays at South Effingham starting at 5:30 p.m. Friday.
Boys’ box score
LCHS — 10/12/6/10: 38
JHS — 6/18/16/9: 49
Liberty scoring: Davion Mitchell 9, Jishaun Harris 8, Conner Bailey 8, Freddie McSwain 6, Lamar Speight 3, Joshua Powers, Richard LeCounte 2