Liberty County’s own version of rivalry week was Friday night, with a split between the two schools.
The Liberty County Lady Panthers moved past Bradwell Institute, 63-57, and the Tiger boys used tough defense to defeat Liberty County, 58-51.
A sign hung on the Liberty County High School gym that all seats were old out by the second quarter of the girls game.
Liberty had a 30-28 lead in the girls’ game after scoring the final basket of the first half. The Lady Panthers won the game in the third quarter. Using its signature half-court trap, Bradwell created a few transition layups off steals, but it could not stop the consistent high-post shots and feeds to Lady Panther post Latia Fleming, who had 11 points in the second half.
“We are playing three different freshmen and a junior transfer right now at the low post. It’s a learning process, but making good decisions tonight and getting the ball inside is certainly a step in the right direction,” Liberty County coach Carolyn Kelly said.
Kelly’s Lady Panthers are gaining experience as they play each game, and she said she was proud of the way her team stepped up tonight.
“We shot the ball from high percentage areas, and we got on the boards. Defensively, we were a little lackadaisical running our 2-3 zone, but that will come. We did a better job of working through pressure on defense, though,” Kelly said.
Liberty improves to 3-1 on the season, while Bradwell is 0-2.
Bradwell simply missed too many opportunities they had to win the game.
“You can’t make the kind of mistakes we did and win. We missed at least 30 points of layups that we didn’t put in the basket,” Bradwell girls’ coach Faye Baker said. “Defensively, we didn’t close out on shooters the way we should have and work as hard on the boards. You can’t play the way that we did and win.”
Lady Panther Olivia Legette led the Liberty scoring column with 16 points. Brianna Reece added 14 points. Latia Fleming finished with 12 points. Emoni Fisher contributed 10 points.
Bradwell point guard Shaquioa Crockett led all scorers with 23 points. Kelissa Hargrove put in nine points.
Bradwell and Liberty were knotted, 11-11, at the end of the first quarter, but Liberty could not handle the fluid man-to-man defense the Tigers played.
Tigers coach Rhett Hellgren paced the sidelines imploring his troops to play defense with their hands up and feet moving.
The Panthers would make an occasional offensive burst but the Tigers responded with a methodical motion offense that either netted a lay-up opportunity or free throws.
Bradwell simply played the type of basketball on both ends of the court that gives teams a chance to win basketball games. The Tigers scored six points off of in-bounds plays.
“I am excited for the boys and how they played tonight. It’s a big win against a crosstown rival. We have come a long way. It’s about the team and not the individual who scores. That kind of attitude is all over. I am really proud of our point guard, Miguel Pineda, who does a great job of distributing the ball and plays so unselfishly. When we are all touching the ball you force all five people to be guarded,” Hellgren said.
Hellgren was also pleased with the type of play he got off the bench. Sophomore Daylan Baker helped counter Liberty’s height advantage and was able to do a good job against the Panthers post game. He grabbed some rebounds and scored 10 points.
Bradwell kept the lead after the half using defense and a patient, athletic offense to stay ahead. Liberty was able to get within three points during the final minutes but Bradwell forced five turnovers in the final three minutes and was able to score on quick lay-ups to keep the lead.
“We are 0-4 but we are getting better. It’s a process. We are still trying to force too many shots and or shoot long shots when there really isn’t a reason. We have got to get more people going towards the boards rather than just standing around,” Liberty County boys coach Willie Graham said.
Bradwell junior guard Malcolm Dingle led a balanced scoring attack with 15 points. Jamorris Hill banked 13 points. Cameron Kight put in 15 points.
Liberty’s Freddie McSwain led all scorers with 22 points. Michael Farrior finished with 11 points.
Bradwell moves 2-0 and Liberty remains winless at 0-4.
Both teams are back in action Saturday night. Read all about the weekend hoops action in Wednesday’s Coastal Courier.
Liberty 63, Bradwell 57 (Girls)
L 20 10 18 13-63
BI 13 15 11 20-57
Liberty- Olivia Legette 16, Brianna Reece 14, Latia Fleming 12, Emoni Fisher 10, Bryonna Graham 9, Jayelyn James 2.
Bradwell- Shaquioa Crockett 23, Kelissa Hargrove 9, Akeyla Richardson 6, Javanaugh Claridy 6, Irene Mena 4, Selena Maines 4, Letia Leiatau 3, Kayla Rocker 2,
Bradwell 58, Liberty 51 (Boys)
BI 11 15 10 22-58
L 11 7 15 18-51
Bradwell- Malcolm Dingle 15, Jamorris Hill 13, Daylan Baker 10, Cameron Kight 8, Resha Stokes 7, Kirk Hill 2, Michael Burnett 2, Miguel Pineda 1.
Liberty- Freddie McSwain 22, Michael Farrior 11, Jeremiah Bacon 7, Jishaun Harris 6, Conner Bailey 3, Stefon Walker 2.