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With the exception of State champions, every team's last game will be a loss.
That's just the way things are designed.
So, when the Liberty girls basketball team's season ended in a 47-42 loss to Brookville in a Region III (Division 3) opener, nobody wearing the red, white and blue was smiling about it.
But, this was not a bad loss, by any means. In fact, the Minettes and their fans have to feel good about how the season ended. More so, they have to feel good about how next season is already shaping up.
On paper, Liberty didn't stand much of a chance against Brookville. The two teams had met three times prior to this encounter. None of those contests ended prettily, from a Minette standpoint:
On Dec. 18, the Bees won handily, 67-43. On Jan. 21, Brookville swept the regular-season series with a 63-40 win.
In the Seminole District tournament semifinals, the Bees prevailed, 65-46.
There you had it: three wins, with an average margin of victory for Brookville of 22 points.
So, if history was a guide, this one should have ended in another sixty-something to forty-something Brookvillian win. Well, as they say, history is a funny thing.
The Bees were cruising in this one. When Anitra Thomas hit a six-footer off the baseline, Brookville had a 31-18 halftime lead.
But, at that, point the Minettes seemed to show that they were tired of being pushed around by the Brookvillians.
They came out of the locker room a' blazin'. Kasey Carr opened up the half with a steal and end-to-end dash. McKenzie Tibbs nailed a three-pointer.
Mikalah Jones then sandwiched a pair of buckets around a nifty dish to Nicole Smith for a deuce, before her hard drive through the paint closed the gap to 34-31 at the end of the third.
In the fourth, Jones would convert a steal into Liberty's first lead of the game, 39-38. But, Liberty's youth and Brookville's quick hands resulted in a trio of steals by the Bees, from which the Minettes were unable to recover.
"Win or lose, all I ask is that (my players) leave it on the court," said Liberty Head Coach Mike Jones. "Tonight, they did."
With a roster consisting of three juniors, four sophomores and three freshman, things look bright for next year.
Especially if the Minettes play like they did in this one.