The Liberty Hill Runnin' Panthers defeated Taylor High 88-60 behind a balanced scoring attack, and a steady dose of pressure from their full court defense. The Runnin' Panthers used the extra time to recover from a tough last-second loss to Burnet with a bye on Jan. 24th, before re-energizing for the next stretch of the district season.
"It was a good win, we started slow and sloppy, but we gained momentum and ended with a convincing win." stated LHHS coach Barry Boren after the victory.
The win moves Liberty Hill to 5-2 in district play, and 15-12 overall. The Runnin' Panthers remain in 3rd in the District 19-4A race behind Lampasas and Burnet. Those two teams will meet on Feb. 3rd, in a game that will be influential in determining if Liberty Hill can force a tie for the district title. The Panthers will host Salado on Jan. 31st, and travel to Llano on Feb 3rd.
The Panthers started on the wrong end of the turnover battle committing 10 in the first quarter, while managing to force Taylor into five which put Liberty Hill behind 22-17 after the 1st quarter. "We created 25 turnovers and we had 20 ourselves." remarked Boren about the turnover disparity. "They still had more than we did, and when we have that we can win."Winning the turnover battle remains imperative for the success of the Runnin' Panthers, as for every turnover they create means an extra possession to score and/or bend the will of the defense. The Ducks played an inspired and energetic first quarter, showing improvement on both ends of the floor after the Runnin' Panthers had dispatched Taylor 76-38 in the first match-up just weeks prior.
Panther press helped kick start a 2nd quarter that the Panthers scored 34 points to pull ahead for a 51-35 lead to head into halftime. Liberty Hill would hold to a 63-50 lead at the end of the 3rd, before pulling away with a twenty-five point 4th quarter to win 88-60. Senior forward Josh Sudekum lead the Panthers in scoring with 22 points, and using his size advantage to score on putbacks throughout the game. The Panthers were active on the glass, as senior forward Zach Lord collected a team high 14 rebounds to go with six points and six assists. Lord has done an impressive job setting up the Panther fast break with quick outlet passes, and passing out of the post to find teammates with open space to shoot or attack the basket.
Senior guard Clayton Kuhlman would also get to the rim often with 16 points, and junior guard Bryce Truslow finished with 15 points, including three 3-pointers made to ignite the Panther perimeter scoring it has needed with teams paying close attention to Lord and Sudekum in the paint. LHHS Coach Barry Boren was pleased with the performance of his bench which included junior Riley LaDuque scoring 11 points, senior Ethan Hershberger with nine points, and senior Carter Ware adding eight points.