The Liberty County boys and girls basketball squads and the Lady Tigers all made it to the region championship games over the weekend, but all three ended with losses for second place finishes in Regions 3-AAA and 3-AAAAA, respectively.
The losses however, did not change that all three will host the first round of state play with the girl squads scheduled to play at 6:30 p.m. Friday and the Panther boys hosting on Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
Lady Tigers 33,
Beach High 47
Having defeated Beach by 34 points in their last meet, Lady Tiger coach Faye Baker knew the Beach High Lady Bulldogs would be out for revenge.
The Lady Tigers did take a brief, 6-point lead and closed the first quarter tied at 10 thanks to a shot at the buzzer by Lady Bulldog Monique Willis. Lady Tiger Mariah Maternik returned the favor by sinking in a 3-pointer at the half, but the Lady Tigers trailed by three.
The game went back and forth and the Lady Tigers trailed 31-33 with only 3:27 left. That is when Willis went to work. She scored 23 points overall in the game and grabbed the rebounds to propel the Lady Bulldogs to a 47-33 win and the region title.
"It felt good," Beach coach Ronald Booker said about defeating the Lady Tigers. "Of course I love Faye like she played for me or is one of my daughters. So it’s always mixed emotions when we have to play each other. But on the other hand I’m very proud of her because she is the one that I’m always going to have to go through if I want to win a championship. And if she wants to win one she knows she will have to come through me and that means we are keeping it in the family."
"I knew he was going to adjust to us in this game and I just don’t think that we adjusted well to his adjustments," Baker said. "But the main thing that hurt us was giving them all the second chances at the shots. They killed us on the offensive boards and even at the free throw line. We can’t give good teams like Beach second attempts. They executed and we didn’t."
She said they plan to work on rebounds and passes as they prepare to host the first round of state Friday night against Riverdale High School.
"We have a chance to redeem ourselves at home," she said.
The Lady Tigers finished 23-4 overall and 14-2 in Region 3-AAAAA.
Friday’s game is at 6:30 p.m. Admission is $7.
Lady Panthers 30, Baldwin 53
"First thing we did was congratulate our girls for a wonderful season," Lady Panther coach Carolyn Kelly said. "We surprised a whole lot of people starting all over for the first time in four years with Metra Walthour and LaQuananisha Adams. So they have a lot to be proud of finishing in second place in the region."
The Lady Panthers made it to the championship round by defeating Washington County 42-26. Coach Kelly said her squad lost twice to Washington County, both times by narrow margins and she was pleased that their third meet was a win in her favor by a large margin.
"We didn’t want a third lost to them," she said. "And we wanted to be in a better position going into the first round of state."
It was the Lady Panthers third meet against Baldwin, another team that defeated the Lady Panthers twice before. They defeated the Lady Panther by 12 or more in the earlier games
"Baldwin is ranked No. 3 in the state in our class," Kelly said. "We knew we would have to play a nearly perfect game to beat them. They had seven senior and that made the difference."
Friday the Lady Panthers play Rutland High School and Kelly said the main challenge will be their size.
"They have kids that at the six foot level and a couple who are 5’10’ and 5’11". They also have a player who was named to the North All-Star team so you know you will be facing talent."
They play Rutland at 6:30 p.m. Admission is $7.
Panthers 50, Washington County 64
During the regular season the Panthers split victories against Washington County, even exchanging leads as regions leaders. But Washington County took the crown by downing the Panther squad 64-50 on Saturday. The boys finish 19-5 overall and 9-3.
They play Woodland Henry Saturday at 5:30 p.m. Admission is $7.