By Don Nelson
The Lady Lions overcame a sluggish start to romp past Bridgeport, 52-29, in a home-court game on Senior Night for the Liberty Bell High School girls’ basketball team last Thursday (Feb. 2).
It was the final regular-regular season game for the Lady Lions, who finished fourth in the Central Washington 2B league with an 11-5 record (12-8 overall). Earlier last week, Liberty Bell lost to the league’s second-place finisher, Tonasket, 49-40, on the road.
Liberty Bell hosted Oroville on Tuesday (Feb. 7) in the first round of the league championship tournament (the Methow Valley News went to press before that game was completed). A loss in that game would end the Lady Lions’ season, while a win would guarantee them at least two more games in the league tourney, the first one at Brewster on Thursday (Feb. 9). Liberty Bell beat the Hornets twice this season in nail-biters, 41-39 at Oroville and 52-51 at home.
Check the News and Liberty Bell Booster Club Facebook pages for updates.
Against Bridgeport, Liberty Bell started its five seniors: Lauren Fitzmaurice, Haley Bakke, Exie Romero, Megan Dammann and Amanda Dwinell.
In the first half, the Fillies pulled down one offensive rebound after another to earn a lot of second and third shots, while the Lady Lions couldn’t find high gear and collected fouls. Fitzmaurice and Katie Labanauskas both had three fouls by halftime, which found Liberty Bell trailing 17-15.
The Lady Lions came out of the locker room at full speed, ringing up 25 points in the third quarter to take control of the game. Liberty Bell scored 11 straight points at the start of the second half, including a three-point dagger by Labanauskas, and the Lady Lions’ stifling defense started to take its toll on Bridgeport. Liberty Bell finished the third quarter with a 40-21 lead and padded it in the fourth quarter.
The dramatic high point of the game came at the very end, when Dwinell sank a long-range three-pointer at the buzzer.
Labanauskas led Liberty Bell’s scoring with 13 points, while Fitzmaurice added 11 and Lauren Ochoa 10.
Coach Ed Smith said he expected a win over Bridgeport, but added that he was “surprised that we started so slow.”
Against Tonasket, the Lady Lions took an early lead, up 15-14 at the end of the first quarter. Tonasket chipped away and reclaimed the lead at halftime, 26-22.
The Tigers extended the margin to 44-33 at the end of the third quarter, and although Liberty Bell held Tonasket to five points in the fourth quarter, the Lady Lions couldn’t close the gap. Labanauskas scored 14 to lead Liberty Bell, followed by Fitzmaurice with 12.
For the season, Fitzmaurice led the Lady Lions in scoring with a 14.3-point average over 20 games. Labanauskas averaged 10.1 points, and Lauren Ochoa averaged 8.5.
Veterans returning next year are juniors Labanauskas, Carlynn Treise, Emily Paul, Nadine Treise and Lauren Ochoa, and freshman Tommie Ochoa.
Tonasket 49, Liberty Bell 40 Liberty Bell 15 7 11 7 40 Tonasket 14 12 18 5 49 (Katie Labanauskas 14, Lauren Fitzmaurice 12, Tommie Ochoa 7,
Lauren Ochoa 5, Carlynn Treise 2) JV: Tonasket 37, Liberty Bell 33 (Willow Temple 15, Ava Mott 8, Ali Palm 6, Emily Paul 2, McKenna Ott 2) Liberty Bell 52, Bridgeport 29 Bridgeport 9 8 4 8 29 Liberty Bell 5 10 25 12 52 (Katie Labanauskas 13, Lauren Fitzmaurice 11, Lauren Ochoa 10, Carlynn
Treise 7, Amanda Dwinell 6, Tommie Ochoa 5. JV: Liberty Bell 40, Bridgeport 28 (Willow Temple 10, Ava Mott 8, Hannah Bakke 8, Emily Paul 4, A’leigh
Priest 4, Naomi Carter 2, Ali Palm 2, McKenna Ott 2)