By Linda Lattanzio, Leader Sportswriter
Did anyone take a holiday? It certainly didn’t look that way when the Liberty Hill Junior High Lady Panthers hosted the Burnet Middle School Lady Bulldogs Jan. 6 for four heated games of basketball. Playing to a packed crowd, the Lady Panthers all won their respective games, except for the 7th Purple Ladies, who lost by one point.
The 7th Gold team opened the afternoon with a Mach 10 game that had parents smiling. After a scoreless first period, the Lady Cats started clicking off plays while holding the Lady Dawgs to one basket and two free throws. The third period wasn’t much better for the Lady Bulldogs. They didn’t really get in the game until the fourth period, but showed tremendous effort, hitting four baskets. The Lady Panthers won 28-15.
Victoria Stephens was a powerhouse in this game with 10 points, along with Savannah Ross with 7 points and 4 steals. Ross was a dangerous asset every time she stepped onto the court, with game-changing steals and accuracy under the net.
Kristin Cox had 4 points and 1 steal. Jenna Elliot had 3 points. Brooke Landry had 2 points and 2 steals. Hannah Landry had 2 points and 1 steal. Paige Harrison created turnovers with 3 steals along with Nicole Thiem who had 2 steals. Esther Vineyard put up an aggressive defensive block when she literally slapped the ball away from the net in the third period.
It was obvious from the start of the 7th Purple game that everyone, including the Lady Dawgs, was still feeling the effects of the holidays. While the Lady Panthers seemed to get their plays going a little quicker, the Lady Dawgs hung in there with success on the free throw line. The score was tied 10-10 at half time. Third period finally found some momentum for both teams as they traded baskets into the fourth period. It was a dead heat, with the game tied at 29-29 with 1:18 left. The Lady Dawgs put up 10 points in the fourth period to the Lady Panthers 13 points, but a free throw in the third period kept the Lady Dawgs on top . As the clock ran out, the Lady Dawgs won 30-31.
Autumn Lange was the most consistent in this game, scoring every period and tallying 9 points and 1 steal, along with Allison Metzger with 8 points. Megan Huppee made 4 points. Abbi Shelton hit 1 basket and 1 free throw. Kaylie Potts nailed 3 free throws, and Mikayla Stiles hit her free throw.
Both 8th grade Gold teams stepped onto the court picking up where they left off in December. Burnet is Liberty Hill’s best district rival, and this was an exciting game.
The Lady Dawgs struck first, scoring 6 points before Amanda Woodbury put them on the board with 1:33 left in the first period. Brianna Burns owned the second period, pulling the Lady Panthers ahead to end the first half 18-8. Third period Ashlee Walker made turnover after turnover for the Lady Cats. The Lady Dawgs pounded the court but were held to one basket in the fourth period. The Lady Cats won 31-16.
Brianna Burns was top scorer with 13 points along with Ashlee Walker with 8 points. Walker was a defensive threat as well with 7 steals. Isabella Turek made 5 points and 2 steals. Amanda Woodbury hit 1 basket and 1 free throw. Grace Russo hit 1 free throw and made 3 steals.
The Lady Bulldogs drew first blood in a knockdown, hold onto your seats game the 8th Purple Lady Panthers won 30-26.
In the first period, all plays led to Jacie Pluenneke, who racked up 8 points. But the Lady Dawgs hung tough with 7 points, thanks to a solid 3-pointer. That 3-point threat continued with the Lady Dawgs hitting two more in the second period. Shelby Whitten kept the Lady Panthers in the lead by swishing both her free throw shots. The Lady Panthers clung to a 21-19 lead at the half.
Third period was aggressive and physical, with parents barely able to keep their seats. With one second left and the Lady Cats on top 38-35, Baylie Bevers hit her free throw on the buzzer. The Lady Cats won 39-35.
Jaycie Pluenneke as top scorer with 12 points, along with Baylie Bevers with 9 points and 1 steal, and Shelby Whitten with 6 points and 2 steals. Madi Elderton and Skylar Larkin each hit a basket. Larkin had one steal. Jill Green and Lynsey Mitchell each hit a free throw.
The Liberty Hill Junior High Lady Panthers continue district play when they host the Salado Lady Eagles Thursday, Jan. 13, in the Liberty Hill Junior High gym. Play begins with the 7th Gold game at 4:30 p.m.; 7th Purple at 5:30 p.m.; 8th Gold at 6:30 p.m.; and 8th Purple at 7:30 p.m. Game times are approximate after the 4:30 p.m. game.