Photo by Don Nelson
Liberty Bell’s Katie Labanauskas challenged an Oroville player in a game last week.

Team improved dramatically on last year’s record

By Don Nelson

The Liberty Bell High School girls’ basketball team’s season came to an end in the first round of the 2B District 5/6 tournament at Wenatchee on Tuesday (Feb. 14), as the Lady Lions fell to Walla Walla Academy, 48-45, in a hard-fought game that went into overtime.

According to reports on the Liberty Bell Booster Club page, regular play ended in a 42-42 tie after the teams exchanged leads throughout the game. The first round of district playoffs is a loser-out format. A win would have advanced Liberty Bell to the second round.

Liberty Bell ended its season with a 14-10 record, after winning four games and failing to make post-season play last year.

Last week, the Lady Lions scrapped their way into the district tournament with a 48-35 win over Lake Roosevelt (which also advanced to districts). The two teams had split their regular season games.

Liberty Bell got off to a slow start against Lake Roosevelt, training 9-6 at the end of the first quarter, but then rallied with a strong second quarter to take a 25-16 halftime lead. The Lady Lions continued to extend their lead, clearing the bench when the score reached 47-27.

Tommie Ochoa and Katie Labanauskas led the Lady Lions with 13 points each, while Lauren Fitzmaurice added 10.

On Friday (Feb. 10), in a game delayed a day by bad weather, Liberty Bell lost to league champion Brewster, 58-44, after sticking close to the Bears for much of the game. Untimely turnovers and missed free throws gave Brewster an opportunity to pull away, Liberty Bell coach Ed Smith said.

Fitzmaurice scored 20 and took down11 rebounds to lead the Lady Lions. Lauren Ochoa added 16 points.

Liberty Bell started the league tournament with a 48-45 victory over Oroville on Feb. 7 in the Lady Lions’ home gym. It was the Lady Lions’ third victory over Oroville this season. Previously, they won by two points and one point. The playoff game on Tuesday was just as close and hotly contested as the earlier match-ups.

Liberty Bell got off to a 12-6 lead in the first quarter, with half the team’s points coming from two three-point shots by Fitzmaurice. The Lady Lions and Hornets played evenly in the second quarter, with Fitzmaurice contributing another three-pointer to help preserve a 25-18 lead at halftime.

Oroville opened the second half with an effective full-court press that slowed Liberty Bell down, and the Hornets scored the first six points of the quarter to draw within a point of the Lady Lions.

Liberty Bell went to its own press, and took a 31-26 lead. But Oroville then scored six straight points in the last minute-and-a-half of the third quarter to go up 32-31.

The teams battled back and forth in the fourth quarter, and the Hornets took a 38-37 lead.

Then Labanauskas scored, was fouled and made the free throw to put Liberty Bell back in the lead for good. Exie Romero drilled three-pointer to put the Lady Lions up by 43-38.

Oroville wasn’t quite done. The Hornets got within one point, trailing 46-45 at about the two-minute mark. Labanauskas scored again with a minute left for a 48-45 lead, which is how things ended.

Fitzmaurice scored 18 points to lead the Lady Lions, with Labanauskas adding 10 and Lauren Ochoa 9.


Liberty Bell 48, Oroville 45

(Lauren Fitzmaurice 18, Katie Labanauskas 10, Lauren Ochoa 9, Carlynn Treise 4, Exie Romero 3, Tommie Ochoa 2, Haley Bakke 2)

Brewster 58, Liberty Bell 44

(Lauren Fitzmaurice 20, Lauren Ochoa 16, Katie Labanauskas 3, Carlynn Treise 3, Megan Dammann 2)

Liberty Bell 48, Lake Roosevelt 35

(Tommie Ochoa 13, Katie Labanauskas 13, Lauren Fitzmaurice 10, Lauren Ochoa 8, Carlynn Treise 4)