The Liberty Bell High School boys’ and girls’ basketball squads began practice last week for the 2019-20 season, with the girls looking to claim the state tournament berth they just missed last year, and the boys hoping to continue last year’s improvement.
The Lady Lions, under first-year coach Stephanie Mitchell, came within one game of advancing to the state tournament last year when they lost to South Bend, 42-36, in regionals play. In that game, a late-game rally wasn’t enough to overcome a 17-point deficit. Liberty Bell finished with an 18-6 record for the year, tied for second in league play and taking third place at the 2B District 5/6 tournament.
The good news for Lady Lions fans is that the team’s entire starting lineup is returning: sophomore Jadyn Mitchell, seniors Tommie Ochoa, Hannah Bakke and Ali Palm, and junior Sammy Mitchell. Among others returning are junior Madison Surface and senior Hailey Damman.
Mitchell, the coach’s daughter, was named to last year’s All-League first team. She averaged 15.2 points per game, and averaged a double-double for the season by pulling down 271 rebounds, 11.3 per game. Curtis was named to the All-League second team. She averaged 13 points per game. Ochoa earned honorable mention. She was the Lady Lions’ third-leading scorer at 5.5 points a game.
Stephanie Mitchell was named Coach of the Year.
The Liberty Bell boys, coached by Kyle Acord, are coming off a 4-16 record that marked improvement over the two previous winless seasons.
Junior Lucaas Gonzalez-Ortega, last year’s leading scorer, returns to the squad after earning honorable mention recognition on the Central Washington 2B boys’ All-League basketball team.
Among others returning are junior Dusty Patterson, junior Nolan Falcon-George, senior Shay Crandall and junior Tyler Darwood.
Both the girls’ and boys’ programs had more than 20 players turning out for the varsity and junior varsity teams last week.
Competition for both squads starts next week at the Okanogan Jamboree on Dec. 4. Early-season games before the holiday break are:
• Dec. 6 at Pateros.
• Dec. 10 at Waterville-Mansfield.
• Dec. 13, first home games hosting Tonasket.
• Dec. 17, at Brewster.
• Dec. 20, at Manson.
Liberty Bell will host a holiday tournament on Dec. 27-28.