The high-school basketball season kicks into gear Friday with crosstown rivals Liberty County and Bradwell Institute going head to head at Bradwell.
The girls’ game will tip off at 6:30 p.m., and the boys’ game will be played immediately after.
Last year, the Panther boys won both games in the series. The first matchup was a barnburner, in which Liberty won, 57-52. In the rematch a few weeks later, the Panthers claimed a 47-36 win. Liberty ended the season with a 20-8 overall record and 5-1 Region 3-AAAA mark. The Tigers were 16-13 and had a nice run in Region 3-AAAAA play, finishing 10-4.
The Lady Panthers also had a huge win in the first game last season, knocking down a young Bradwell team, 57-28. But the Lady Tigers made a run in the rematch as the game came down to the buzzer, with Liberty winning, 50-48. The Liberty girls went 14-11 overall and 4-3 in region action, while he Lady Tigers were 8-18 overall and 6-8 in the region.
This year, the Liberty girls come into Friday’s matchup much younger than the veteran team the Lady Tigers return.
Panther boys’ head coach Willie Graham said the boys’ team will start a bit short-handed Friday, as Richard LeCounte, Tracy White, Jerrell Taylor and DaShawn Hudson will play in a state football-playoff game that day.
BI head coach Rhett Hellgren said his team is young. The Tigers will get a boost from football players transitioning to their second sport, but likely will be a bit rusty for the first game.