The first time Liberty County High School and Bradwell Insitute met, Nov. 9 in a preseason scrimmage, the Panthers won 63-48.
Wednesday night, the Panthers won 53-40 over the Tigers at the Joe Greene Classic at Beach High.
But it was closer than the score might indicate, especially in the first half. The Tigers cut Liberty’s lead to 23-21 in the last minute of the second period before LCHS’ Shakur Cook hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Panthers a 26-21 halftime lead.
Bradwell kept the game close throughout the third quarter.
"We have to learn to be able to make shots under the basket and keep the ball in our hands. I am pleased with the way we played but we have to take advantage of chances when we have them," BI coach Pete Woodard said.
Liberty pulled away in the final minutes of the contest.
"Playing in the Joe Greene gives us a chance to get ready for the region. We got to see Brunswick, who is in our region and they are a very quick, good basketball team," Liberty coach Willie Graham said.
Despite showing signs of improvement, the Panthers have room for more, according to Graham.
"We show spurts of good basketball, but we are still not as consistent as we should be. We are deliberate when we should be aggressive and aggressive when we should be more deliberate," Graham said.
Graham said his team still needs a point guard. He was pleased with the play of Tucory Rhodes, who led all scorers with 17. Rhodes played the post, can move on the perimeter and is a strong rebounder, Graham said.
Melvin King had 13 points and Michael Farrior finished with 10 for Liberty.
Bradwell was led by Deon Craig with eight points. Jevante Richey scored seven points. Malcolm Dingle and Jamael Smith chipped in six points each.
Liberty improves to 4-1 on the season and will visit Tattnall Friday night and travel to Long County Saturday night.
"Next week those games are always fun, crowded gyms and good environment for the boys to play in," Graham said.
Bradwell falls to 0-2 on the season and will open region play at Savannah’s Beach on Tuesday night.
"The scoreboard isn’t always an indicator of how you played. Sometimes when you win, you lose and when you lose you win," Woodard said.
Woodard noted it’s a long season and remains optimistic of his young team.
"We just have to learn to handle the ball better and make our shots, especially lay ups. We play more defense than we need to sometimes because we let the ball get out of our hands. If we do things we need to improve we will be fine," Woodard said.
Liberty 53, Bradwell 40
Liberty County: Tucory Rhodes 17, Melvin King 13, Michael Farrior 10, Shadrach Thornton 5, Shakur Cook 4, Tamontray Tucker 2, Deante Bacon 2.
Bradwell Institute: Deon Craig 8, Jevante Richey 7, Malcolm Dingle 6, Jamael Smith 6, Cameron Kight 4, Thomas Smith 4, Anthony Campbell 3, Spenser Asher 2.