By Don Nelson

The Liberty Bell High School varsity girls’ basketball squad threw a first-quarter shutout at the visiting Bridgeport Fillies last Friday (Jan. 29) on the way to a 20-point victory, a strong comeback after the Lady Lions dropped a 60-29 loss to Brewster three days earlier.

Liberty Bell took a 15-0 lead into the second quarter against Bridgeport on the strength of tough defense, and scored 17 points before the Fillies put anything on the scoreboard, to lay the groundwork for a 57-37 win. Bridgeport managed a slight surge in the second quarter as Liberty Bell went cold on offense, but the Lady Lions finished with a rush to take a 31-11 lead to the locker room at halftime.

Liberty Bell built its lead to 27 points by the end of the third quarter. The fourth quarter was slowed by a plethora of fouls, most of them by the Lady Lions, and the Fillies’ Samantha Martinez found her way to the basket repeatedly as Bridgeport narrowed the gap to 20 by the final buzzer.

Coach Ed Smith was pleased with the victory, but was less happy with the fourth-quarter fouling spree.

Lauren Fitzmaurice led the Lady Lions in scoring with 24 points, and Lauren Ochoa added 12 points, many of them close range scores attributable to aggressive drives to the hoop. Katie Labanauskas had seven points, Carlynn Treise and Monica Chavey four each, and Exie Romero, Amanda Dwinell and Nadine Treise two each. Haley Bakke, who re-injured a knee in an earlier game, sat out the Bridgeport contest.

On Jan. 26, Liberty Bell was on the road to play at Brewster. Smith said the Lady Lions started strong against Brewster, which is tied for second place with Lake Roosevelt in league play, but couldn’t sustain their first-quarter momentum. “Our defense let us down,” Smith said. “If you don’t play hard defense, you can’t play offense.” The Lady Lions also didn’t take very good care of the ball, giving up 33 turnovers.

Fitzmaurice had a rare single-digit night in scoring with four points. Labanauskas led Liberty Bell with eight points, followed by Romero with seven, Carlynn Treise and Ochoa with four each, and Chavey with two.

On Tuesday, Liberty Bell was scheduled to play a road game against league-leading, undefeated Okanogan. The Lady Lions lost to Okanogan, 76-27, earlier in the season. The regular season ends with a home game against Manson on Thursday (Feb. 4) at 6 p.m. The Lady Lions lost, 36-34, on Manson’s home court earlier in the season.

Smith said that its unlikely Liberty Bell will be able to repeat last year’s run into post-season play even if it splits this week’s games. The Lady Lions are 3-9 in league play and 4-12 overall.

Liberty Bell 57, Bridgeport 37

Bridgeport 0 11 7 19 37

Liberty Bell 15 16 14 12 57