It's no big secret that the Liberty girls' basketball team had a rocky start to this season.
The Lancers lost five of their first eight games.
Junior point guard Lydia Marshall helped the Lancers turn it around.
Yes, she's a captain. But she also leads through her play on and off the court. Take, for example, last week. She played big roles in two upsets win over Fountain-Fort Carson and Doherty.
In the first game, she scored a game-high 21 points. In the second game, Marshall got her fourth foul in the third quarter and ultimately recorded just six points, but she was rooting for her teammates from the bench.
Marshall has been one of the most consistent players across the Pikes Peak region. And for that, she earned this week's Gazette Preps Peak Performer of the Week honor.
"We all know she's capable taking over every game," Liberty coach Monty Taylor said.
And the Lancers are going to need her again Tuesday.
No. 32 Liberty (15-8) hosts No. 33 Lakewood (9-14) in the first round of the Class 5A state tournament. Tipoff is 7 p.m. The winner will face No. 1 Highlands Ranch (22-1).
After their 3-5 start, the Lancers began to surge. They went on a five-game winning streak and never suffered back-to-back losses again before closing out the Class 5A/4A Colorado Springs Metro League with a 9-3 record — enough for third place.
"It started off a little slow because we lost seven seniors from last year," Marshall said, "so we were a little rough on the edges. We all had to learn how to play together as a team."
Last year's team was stacked with seniors and finished with an 18-7 record, a second-place showing in the league standings and a first-round playoff victory.
To close out this year's regular season, the Lancers came away with upset wins over the league's co-champions. Liberty couldn't have done it without Marshall.
The junior had a rough game against Doherty because she was in foul trouble early in the second half. But she supported her teammates when she couldn't play.
The gesture also illustrated the Lancers' depth. Baylee Adams scored a team-high 10 points, and that was the first time this season that the senior led Liberty in scoring.
The Lancers went on to outscore Doherty 12-4 in the fourth quarter on its way to snapping a four-year losing streak to the Spartans.
In the game, Marshall settled for single-digit scoring on a pair of 3-pointers.
"My team came out and followed through," Marshall said.
Just the Facts
Lydia Marshall, Liberty
Sport: Girls' basketball
Highlights: The junior played two different roles in upset wins over Fountain-Fort Carson and Doherty last week. She had a game-high 21 points in the first game. Then, against Doherty, she was called for her fourth foul and settled for just six points, but that didn't stop her from rooting on her team as the Lancers went on to snap a four-year losing streak to the Spartans.
Favorite sports team: Boston Celtics
Favorite movie: The Maze Runner
Favorite pump-up song: Panic! At The Disco's "High Hopes"
Favorite school subject: Art
Other Top Performers
Micah Hilts, Vista Ridge
The senior provided two strong performances in the Wolves' final two games of the regular season. Hilts finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds in a 55-50 win over Discovery Canyon before he put up 17 points in a win over Air Academy. No. 43 Vista Ridge plays at No. 22 Brighton on Wednesday in the first round of the Class 5A state tournament.
Ashten Prechtel, Discovery Canyon
In her team's regular season finale last week, the senior went off. The Stanford-bound center exploded for 36 points and 32 rebounds to lead the Thunder to a 61-35 win over Palmer Ridge. Earlier in the week, she had 19 points and 21 rebounds in a 45-31 win over Vista Ridge.
Scott Sullivan, Cheyenne Mountain
The senior scored four goals and added an assist in a 5-2 win over Lewis-Palmer last week. His play helped the Indians break open a 1-1 tie after the first period. No. 23 Cheyenne Mountain will face No. 10 Heritage in the first round of the state playoffs on Tuesday.
Patrick Allis, Discovery Canyon
The senior clashed with Pueblo East's Ryan Roth in the 126-pound title match of the Class 4A Region 2 tournament last week and prevailed. This time, Allis won 11-5 -- which was more comfortable than a 10-8 decision over Roth earlier in the season. Allis (35-1) and Roth (33-4) could possibly meet again in the 4A state finals this week.
Ben Nagel, Coronado
Despite being a fifth seed, the sophomore led the way for the Cougars at the 4A Region 3 tournament over the weekend. Nagel held on for an 8-4 win over Air Academy's Bailey Badwound in the 138 final. He was one of eight Cougars to advance to this week's state tournament.