By Don Nelson
Driving toward post-season play, The Liberty Bell High School girls’ basketball team won the games it needed to last week. The Lady Lions outlasted Lake Roosevelt at home, 58-46, on Jan. 16, and stifled Oroville, 41-21, in another home game on Saturday (Jan. 20).
Between those victories, Liberty Bell traveled to league-leading Brewster, where the Lady Bears dominated, 69-37.
The Lake Roosevelt game seemed interminable, as the refereeing crew practically wore out their whistles calling nearly 60 fouls on the two teams. Liberty Bell started with eight players, lost two who fouled out and finished with a single sub on the bench.
A sluggish first quarter ended with the Lady Lions up 11-9. In the next four minutes, the two teams scored a total of 6 points and things were tied 13-13 halfway through the second quarter. Then things started picking up. Sophomore Tommie Ochoa gave Liberty Bell a 21-18 lead with a long three-pointer, but the Raiders answered with their own trey.
The half ended rather oddly. Liberty Bell freshman Sammy Curtis fouled a Lake Roosevelt shooter on a three-point attempt, but the Raider player missed all three free throws. Seconds later, Curtis was fouled on a three-point shot and made one of three free throws, giving the Lady Lions a 27-24 halftime lead.
Liberty Bell finally began pulling away in the third quarter, going up by 10 with about three minutes left and holding on a 42-32 advantage. In the final quarter, Lake Roosevelt occasionally crept closer, but Curtis drained a three to give the Lady Lions a 51-38 lead with three minutes left.
At that point, Lake Roosevelt coach Wallace Pleasants got into an extended discussion with one of the referees that went on for several minutes, although no time out had been called. Eventually play resumed.
Curtis and senior Lauren Ochoa fouled out in the final two minutes, so Liberty Bell was down to six players, but maintained its lead to the end. Lauren Ochoa was the Lady Lions’ leading scorer with 15 points, followed by Curtis with 11 and sophomore Ali Palm with 10. Liberty Bell took 44 free throws and made 21.
Liberty Bell coach Ed Smith said he was pleased with the team’s defense. “They helped each other out,” he said. “That’s what’s been lacking.”
Against Brewster two nights later, Smith said, the Lady Lions didn’t play consistently enough in any part of the game to challenge the Lady Bears. Senior Katie Labanauskas led Liberty Bell with 11 points, and Palm and Lauren Ochoa added 8 each.
Back on their home court, the Lady Lions had to deal with an extremely deliberate, slowed-down Oroville offense that used up its full 35 seconds on nearly every possession — not to much avail, however, as the Hornets failed to score in the first quarter. But Liberty Bell clanked shot after shot and only claimed a 5-0 lead after the first eight minutes.
The Lady Lions built their advantage to 10-0 before Oroville finally scored a basket with about 5 minutes left in the first half. The half ended with Liberty Bell up 20-6, and Oroville was only remotely in the game because the Lady Lions’ shooting remained cold.
Liberty Bell had enough firepower to gradually put more distance between itself and Oroville. All eight Liberty Bell players scored, led by Lauren Ochoa with 10 points.
The Lady Lions are now 8-4 in league play (8-8 overall), tied for third place with Waterville-Mansfield. Liberty Bell finishes the season at home: They hosted Soap Lake on Tuesday (Jan. 23), host Tonasket next Tuesday (Jan. 30, with a 6 p.m. tipoff), and finish the season on their home court Feb. 3 against Manson, tipping off at 6 p.m., in a make-up game that was postponed by a snowstorm.
Liberty Bell 58, Lake Roosevelt 46
Lauren Ochoa 15, Sammy Curtis 11, Ali Palm 10, Katie Labanauskas 7, Tommie Ochoa 7, Carlynn Treise 4, Emily Post 2, Devin Surface 2.
Liberty Bell JV 36, Lake Roosevelt JV 33 (OT)
Jayden Mitchell 17, Willow Temple 7, Maddie Surface 5, Hannah Bakke 3, Haley Dammann 2, McKenna Ott 2.
Brewster 69, Liberty Bell 37
Katie Labanauskas 11, Lauren Ochoa 8, Ali Palm 8, Destiny 4, Sammy Curtis 3, Carlynn Treise 3.
Brewster JV 50, Liberty Bell JV 43
Hannah Bakke 15, Willow Temple 11, McKenna Ott 5, Madison Surface 4, Hailey Damman 3, Jordan Flett 3, Naomi Carter 2.
Liberty Bell 41, Oroville 21
Lauren Ochoa 10, Katie Labanauskas 7, Ali Palm 5, Tommie Ochoa 5, Carlynn Treise 4, Destiny Ferreira 3, Sammy Curtis 3, Emily Paul 2, Devin Surface 2.
(No JV game)
Leading scorers (through 16 games): Lauren Ochoa 185, Katie Labanauskas 130, Ali Palm 102, Sammy Curtis 92, Carlynn Treise 59, Tommie Ochoa 56, Destiny Ferreira 28, Devin Surface 27, Emily Paul 20, Willow Temple 3.