Four Panthers hit the double-digits in scoring Tuesday night to lead unbeaten Liberty County High School to a 64-48 win over McIntosh County Academy in Darien.
Derrick Brooks led the Panthers (5-0) with 15 points. Aaron Scott chipped in 14, Sayvon Wilson hit 12 and Michael Farrior scored 11 for Liberty, which led by as many as 20 points.
But Panther coach Willie Graham said the Buccaneers never relented, and the game gave his team a challenge it hadn’t seen so far this season.
“One good thing about last night’s game is that McIntosh is quick, physical, and it was the first time we played a team that had both of those combinations throughout their entire lineup,” he said. “They stayed at us all night long. That, in itself, was different … they pressed us and stayed in our faces most of the night, fast-paced. We lost our composure several times going at their pace, but we were able to weather those storms and play a lot of people for a lot of minutes, improving our conditioning, and that is what makes you better going down the wire.”
The coach said he expects his team to win, whether by 20 or by one, but more importantly he expects everyone to step up and be ready.
“You never know who you are going to have to play,” he said. “For example, a couple of years ago, Rion Brown got sick and somebody had to step up and we didn’t have anybody ready to step up. Hopefully, by getting each kid big minutes in crucial situations when the game is still on the line, we’ll have those folks who can step up, because you never know who might twist an ankle and sit out a game or two.”
With newcomers Brooks and Scott getting starting time and younger players like Connor Bailey, Raekwon McMillan and D’Angelo Streeter learning the ropes, Graham said they still are putting the pieces together.
“Offensively, it’s getting them to play as a group and they are certainly getting better from game to game. We can see the improvement,” he said. “We are getting two of our young freshmen in at point guard and working them in to give them some varsity minutes here and there and in critical situations, hot situations and pressure situations. That will help us down the road … late January early February when we think they’ll be ready to be tested.”
The coach added this year’s squad probably is the best freethrow shooting team they’ve had at Liberty County in a while.
But Graham said he still sees room for improvement.
“We shot 61 percent the other night and we were 78 percent, then 65 percent … we need to be consistent and all of them have to be able to shoot freethrows from the top to the bottom,” Graham said.
The Panthers host their first two games this weekend. Tonight they take on Tattnall County High School at 8 p.m. The Panthers host rival Long County High School at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow.
Liberty top scorers: Derrick Brooks 15, Aaron Scott 14, Sayvon Wilson 12, Michael Farrior 11, Raekwon McMillan 8, D’Angelo Streeter 4