The Liberty Bell High School girls’ basketball team took firm control of second place in the CW2B league with three victories last week, the most important — and gutsy — over a tough Brewster squad.
The wins left the Lady Lions with a 10-2 record in league play (13-3 overall), a game behind league-leading Waterville-Mansfield (11-1, 13-3). Brewster follows in third place with a 9-3 record in league contests.
Liberty Bell has four league games left before postseason play begins, against teams it has beaten this season. Winning out would ensure a second-place finish, and position the Lady Lions for the top spot if Waterville-Mansfield should falter.
The week began with a 50-33 win at Tonasket that featured a balanced scoring attack.
“The girls are sharing the ball well and it is fun to see them all contributing in scoring, rebounds and playing great defense,” Liberty Bell coach Stephanie Mitchell said.
Sophomore Jadyn Mitchell, senior Ali Palm and junior Sammy Curtis each had 9 points. Mitchell grabbed 8 rebounds, as did Palm and senior Hannah Bakke. Senior Tommie Ochoa handed out 3 assists.
Brewster traveled to Liberty Bell on Friday (Jan. 24) hoping to replicate its 50-45 win over the Lady Lions earlier in the season — and for three quarters, it looked like the visitors might.
Points were hard to come by for both teams early on. Brewster took a 12-8 lead after one quarter. Liberty Bell caught Brewster, 14-14, early in the second quarter, but the Lady Bears responded to claim a 21-15 halftime lead. Turnovers worked against the Lady Lions in the first half, but aggressive defense kept it close.
Brewster maintained and extended its lead to 7 points, 30-23, but couldn’t break away as junior Madi Surface scored a basket and free throw to get Liberty Bell within 4. The third quarter ended with Brewster clinging to a 34-29 lead.
It stayed that way for more than 3 minutes in the final quarter as neither team scored. Liberty Bell was first to break the ice as Mitchell hit both ends of a one-and-one. Brewster answered with a bucket, then Palm made a clutch 3-pointer to bring the Lady Lions within 2, 36-34, with about three-and-a-half minutes left.
From then on it was all Liberty Bell. The Lady Lions shifted into frenetic defense mode, including a full-court press, and held Brewster to 2 free throws while scoring 13 points. Palm took full advantage of foul shot opportunities — making 6 of 7 and throwing in a basket for good measure — as Liberty Bell built a 43-37 lead. Mitchell and Ochoa each added 2 free throws for the final margin, 47-38.
Mitchell and Curtis both played in foul trouble, and Curtis was held scoreless although she did have 7 rebounds and 4 steals. Palm’s epic fourth quarter put her at the top of the stats with 20 points to go along with 7 rebounds and 4 steals. Mitchell scored 11 and took down 7 rebounds, Surface had 10 points, 9 rebounds and 4 steals, Ochoa had 9 rebounds and 7 assists, and Bakke owned the boards with 14 rebounds.
“The girls had a gut check in the fourth quarter,” said coach Mitchell. “They wanted to win and they showed it, shooting 87% from the free throw line. Ali Palm was huge for us in this game.”
The next day (Saturday, Jan. 25) Liberty Bell was back on the road again at Oroville, where the Lady Lions easily outdistanced the home team, 66-28. Mitchell notched another double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds, Ochoa has 13 points and 4 assists, Curtis tallied 14 points, Palm had 10 points, 7 rebounds and 5 steals, sophomore Caitlyn Cooley had 9 rebounds, and sophomore Shae Taylor added 7 boards.
“The team played great team basketball in Oroville with everyone scoring and everyone getting an assist,” coach Mitchell said.
Liberty Bell hosted Manson on Tuesday (Jan. 28) and stays home to face Bridgeport on Friday (Jan. 31).
LBHS 50, Tonasket 33
Jadyn Mitchell 9, Tommie Ochoa 7, Madi Surface 4, Sammy Curtis 9, Caitlyn Cooley 2, Ali Palm 9, Hailey Dammann 6, Hannah Bakke 4
Liberty Bell 47, Brewster 38
Jadyn Mitchell 11, Madi Surface 10, Ali Palm 20, Tommie Ochoa 6
LBHS 8 7 14 18 47
Brewster 12 9 13 4 38
Liberty Bell 66, Oroville 28
Jadyn Mitchell 16, Tommie Ochoa 13, Madi Surface 4, Sammy Curtis 14, Caitlyn Cooley 4, Shae Taylor 2, Ali Palm 10, Hailey Dammann 2, Hannah Bakke 1
Scoring through 16 games:
Jadyn Mitchell 248, Sammy Curtis 173, Ali Palm 158, Tommie Ochoa 97, Madi Surface 96, Hannah Bakke 61, Hailey Damman 47, Shae Taylor 31, Caitlyn Cooley 19