By Don Nelson
The Liberty Bell High School varsity girls’ basketball team lost two games by a total of three points last week, barely missing a chance to double their victories total for the season.
The Lady Lions had a healthy lead at Manson on Jan. 13 before falling, 36-34. At home on Thursday (Jan. 14), Liberty Bell similarly gave up a third-quarter lead and missed a couple of shots at the close of the fourth quarter to suffer a 41-40 loss to Lake Roosevelt.
In each game, a few more converted free throws might have made the difference. Coach Ed Smith noted that the Lady Lions hit 13 of 26 free throws at Manson — just 50 percent — and were even less consistent against Lake Roosevelt, going 10 for 26.
“If we shoot our free throws, we win both,” Smith said.
Free throw shooting had also hurt Liberty Bell in early games against Oroville and Tonasket, Smith said.
The coach said the Lady Lions would be practicing early on Friday (Jan. 15), presumably including extra time at the charity stripe.
Smith said Liberty Bell’s improvement is keeping them in games. “We’re competitive, but we’re not over the hump yet,” he said. “There was disappointment in the locker room [on Thursday].”
Against Manson, Lauren Fitzmaurice led the Lady Lions in scoring with 10 points, followed by Katie Labanauskas with nine, Lauren Ochoa with eight, Carlynn Treise, Exie Romero and Haley Bakke with two each, and Monica Chavey with one.
Against Lake Roosevelt, Liberty Bell scored early in the first quarter but a couple of three-pointers by the Raiders put them in the lead, which they extended with a buzzer-beating trey to go up by five points. The Lady Lions hung on in the second quarter to cut Lake Roosevelt’s halftime margin to three points, 19-22.
The third quarter was Liberty Bell’s best, as the Lady Lions outscored the Raiders 14-8 to take a three-point lead into the final eight minutes. Liberty Bell went to full-court press at the start of the fourth quarter and clung to a 39-34 lead with a little over four minutes to go.
From then on, however, the Lady Lions managed only one more point. Still, with just under two minutes to play, they held a 40-39 lead. A Liberty Bell turnover led to a Lake Roosevelt basket, putting them up 41-40.
The Lady Lions stole the ball from Lake Roosevelt a couple of times in the final minute, but could not convert. Ochoa’s desperate shot at the buzzer, after another steal, fell short.
Fitzmaurice scored 13 points to lead Liberty Bell, followed by Chavey with eight, Labanauskas and Ochoa six each, Bakke four and Treise three. Romero played but did not score.
Bakke twisted a knee that left her hobbling after the game. Smith said he wasn’t sure if she would be able to recover for an away game at Tonasket on Tuesday (Jan. 19). The Lady Lions fell to Tonasket, 43-31, earlier in the season. Liberty Bell will travel to Lake Roosevelt on Thursday (Jan. 21) for a rematch; then host Oroville on Saturday (Jan. 23) at 5 p.m., an hour earlier than usual. The Lady Lions lost to Oroville, 43-37, earlier in the season.
Lake Roosevelt 41, Liberty Bell 40
Lake Roosevelt 14 8 8 11 41
Liberty Bell 9 10 14 7 40
Central Washington 2B North
Okanogan 8-0 10-0
Brewster 7-1 7-4
Lake Roosevelt 5-3 6-5
Oroville 4-4 5-7
Tonasket 3-4 4-6
Manson 2-5 4-7
Liberty Bell 1-6 2-9
Bridgeport 0-8 2-9