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Doherty's high-pressure defense stumps Liberty in blowout win
With a dumfounded look, Annie Reed returned to the court Tuesday after her Liberty girls’ squad played host to Doherty. Try as she did, no words could truly express what the fourth-year coach had just witnessed.
“That didn’t just happen,” Reed managed through a half smile.
Liberty (9-7 overall, 2-3 5A Metro League) struggled mightily in all facets of the game, succumbing to a relentless Doherty press and scoring its fewest points in nearly two years in a 68-24 setback.
“That is not a bad basketball team,” Spartans coach Pat McKiernan said about the Lancers. “She’s doing great things with these girls, and they’re very capable of coming in and surprising anybody. We had a bad first few minutes and took care of business after that.”
Senior Angela Vigil led all scorers with 15 points and fellow senior Jordan Nelson added 11 as Doherty (10-8, 4-1) rebounded from Saturday’s tough loss to Palmer. The Spartans shot 56 percent in the first half, highlighted by a 9-of-15 effort in a 25-point second quarter, and never looked back after spotting the Lancers a quick 4-0 lead.
“When we play as a team, everything is good,” Spartans junior Meagan Kramer said. “It’s taken a while, but I think we’re becoming a family. As we become a family, we become an all-around team.”
Consecutive baskets by Kat Koch and Emily Jones gave Liberty a jolt and sent Doherty to the sidelines for a 30-second timeout just 1:23 into the game. It was a completely different Spartans team after that.
Vigil hit two short jumpers, then a 3-pointer that triggered a 13-0 run. By the halfway mark of the second quarter, the Spartans built the lead to 33-8, thanks to eight points from Kramer as part of a 14-0 run. The Spartans enjoyed a 23-8 edge in rebounding, including 10 on the offensive end, in heading to halftime with a 45-14 lead.
“It’s definitely stressful when coach yells at you,” Nelson said. “After the first few minutes, we just played really well as a team and pressured the ball really well. We were all pretty upset after the Palmer game, but we know we can get it next time.”
Junior Chris Brown led Liberty with eight points. Her 3-pointer from the right side with 1:04 left in the first half, along with another 3-pointer from senior Alex Rivas two minutes before, were among the few offensive highlights for a team that shot 20 percent (7 for 35) and committed 24 turnovers.
“I know we can do better than this,” Rivas said. “We just have to stay positive.”
Reed knows her team will improve. She doesn’t need any physical evidence of Tuesday’s implosion to make anyone feel worse than they already do.
“I probably won’t go home and watch the tape,” Reed said. “We’ve got to bounce back and learn from it. Unfortunately, sometimes you have to have games like this in order to get better. There’s only one way to go, and that’s up.”