Wrestlers excel at Granger meet
The Mountain Lion girls’ basketball team split its two games last week, stinging the Hornets from Oroville 53-10, and dropping a 10-point decision to the Brewster Bears, 49-39.
Liberty Bell 53, Oroville 10: Defense was the name of the game as the Mountain Lions completely shut down the Hornets. Senior Jadyn Mitchell ripped the nets for 24 points and collected 10 rebounds for yet another double-double combination, her third in as many games this season. Senior Caitlyn Cooley was the only other Mountain Lion in double figures with 19 points and hauled in 12 rebounds, also scoring a double-double.
Brewster 49, Liberty Bell 39: The Bears held the Mountain Lions to their lowest point total of the season in the Lions’ Den. Mitchell again led Liberty Bell with her fourth double-double in as many games, scoring 22 points and nabbing 12 rebounds. Cooley scored 12 points and picked up six rebounds, and junior Ruby McCarthy was the only other Liberty Bell player to score with 5 points. The loss dropped Liberty Bell to 2-2 on the early season, and evened their league record at 1-1.
Mitchell crossed the 1,000-point threshold in her Mountain Lion career, nailing a three-point shot in the second quarter. During an ensuing timeout, Mitchell was honored for the milestone and presented with a basketball signed by all of the Mountain Lion players in both the girls’ and boys’ programs, a project of her hoopster brother, Kyler, who made the presentation.
For her part, Mitchell is philosophical about her accomplishment. “To be honest, I’d trade the points for an appearance in the state tournament,” said Mitchell.
They’ve been close recently, earning a berth to the regional qualifier in 2019 where they lost a heartbreaker to South Bend. In 2020, Liberty Bell was one step away from a return to the regionals when they were defeated by Columbia-Burbank, the eventual fourth-place trophy winner at state. The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association did not put on a tournament during the 2021 COVID season.
While historical data for the Mountain Lion program has been difficult to locate, anecdotally speaking Mitchell ends up in a select class of Mountain Lion hoopsters that stand out over the years. Few recall players who have put up the numbers that Mitchell has in one category, let alone two as a scorer and a rebounder.
Averaging over 20 points per game this season, Mitchell would rather be known for her play on the boards.
“I’d rather average 20 rebounds per game and get the ball to my teammates,” she said. While most of her points come on offensive rebound “put-backs” and close-in shots from inside the key, she is also game to shoot from the arc, as witnessed by the three-point bomb that put her over the 1,000-point mark.
With the core of this year’s team being members of the graduating senior class, Mitchell has focused her mentorship of the younger players on leadership and fulfilling roles on the team. “Leadership is very important, but it also important that everyone understand their role on the team,” she said. “I’m hoping I have been able to show how leadership can help out with success.”
College is in the cards for Mitchell, but her basketball future is unknown at this time. “I haven’t really been getting any looks, but I have four colleges in mind,” she said.
Beyond basketball, Mitchell looks to put her interest in math to work as an accountant, or parlay her love of sports into a career in sports management.
Liberty Bell was scheduled to host the Republic Tigers on Tuesday (Dec. 14), beginning a run of seven straight road games until Jan. 18.
Liberty Bell 54, Oroville 37: Liberty Bell’s boys jumped out to a 17-12 first quarter lead, extended it to an eight-point halftime advantage and pulled away in the second half to win their first NCWB league game of the 2021-22 season over the Hornets.
Liberty Bell got off 63 total shots, hitting only 23 of them, but showing they are willing to take the open look. The real story was the defensive effort, forcing 27 Hornet turnovers, including 15 steals and four blocked shots.
Sophomore Isaiah Stoothoff led scorers with 19 points, hitting on 9 of his 14 shots from the field. Eighth-grader Remy Paz and sophomore Kyler Mitchell each scored 9. Paz also picked Oroville ball handlers for six steals defensively.
Brewster 83, Liberty Bell 61: Brewster turned an early lead in to a 19-point halftime advantage and withstood a third-quarter Mountain Lion rally to defeat Liberty Bell and extend their league record to 3-0 on the season. Liberty Bell dropped to 1-1.
Kyler Mitchell led all scorers with a season-high 24 points, going 5 for 9 from the field and hitting a trio of three pointers along the way. He was the only Mountain Lion in double figures, and grabbed six rebounds. Freshman Morgan Spellman added 9 points. Adaih Najera and A.J. Woodward each scored 20 for the Bears and Kelcen Gebbers added 15 for the defending state 2B champions from 2020.
“Our energy was solid against Oroville and Brewster,” said coach Nate Chrastina. “It’s always good to get a league win and we did that vs. Oroville.”
Of the third-quarter rally in which Liberty Bell cut the Brewster lead from 19 to 8 points, Chrastina was enthused. “We were excited to be going into the fourth quarter against Brewster down just eight after giving up far too many transition points and points in the paint during the first half,” the coach said.
The Bears put up 22 points in the fourth to pull away for the final margin, but that didn’t dampen the spirit or the resolve for the first year coach. “We love that our guys play every possession with the same intensity,” said Chrastina. “Our guys are hungry and have a sincere desire to get better with each possession.”
Republic was scheduled in on Tuesday (Dec. 14), but that game was canceled because of a positive COVID test reported by Republic.
Alumni return to the Den
Mountain Lion basketball hosts the annual alumni games for both men and women on Thursday, Dec. 23, in the Den. The women will play at 6 p.m., the men will then follow. Concessions will be available before and during intermission. If you are a Mountain Lion alumnus and want to play, call Stephanie Mitchell at (509) 429-0664 for more information.
Wrestlers take titles at Granger
Coach Joe Downing took four wrestlers to Granger for the annual Granger Ironman Tournament, featuring 22 schools from around the state of Washington last weekend. “We had an amazing tournament” reported the coach.
The Mountain Lion grapplers scored two individual champions, a second place and a sixth-place finish. Liberty Bell’s limited boys’ numbers did not prevent them from turning a few heads with their 59-point team total, good for 13th place.
Cassidy Jones-Mowen, the lone female wrestler for the Mountain Lions, went undefeated in winning the girls’ 140-pound division, scoring 24 team points and placing Liberty Bell in 14th position among the 18 represented schools. Mowen defeated Aiyanna Marquez in a tough-fought 8-7 battle for the title.
On the boys’ side, Noah Holston wrestled in the 195-pound division level and also went undefeated, pinning every opponent he faced. Holston made short work of Okanogan’s Ryan Zabreznik in the championship bout, snatching title by fall barely a minute (1:05) into the first round. Cody White, returning to the program after two years away, placed second overall in the 145-pound class, losing his championship round by a narrow 4-0 score to Hudson Garcia of Zillah. Freshman Damien Spears also showed well, scoring a sixth-place finish.