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There are some questions about the Liberty girls basketball program, the answers to which are uncertain:
-When did Liberty last sweep Staunton River in a season series?
-When did the team last have four players in double figures?
-When did the Minettes last open a season with a 3-0 record?
The Liberty lasses made things a bit easier for us, history-wise. Going forward, the answer to all three questions is Saturday, December 8, 2012. That's because this resurgent Liberty crew took care of the visiting Eagles, 67-38.
It was the most decisive victory by a Liberty team in quite some time. The Minettes yielded no more than 11 points in any quarter, as their press worked effectively, especially in the first half.
Meanwhile, Liberty doubled up in the first half as it raced out to a 42-20 halftime advantage.
The Eagles, still without top player Brie Holdren, had no answer in the second half. Newcomer Sidney Stephens led the way for the Golden Eagles, netting 10 points. Lauren Mitchell had eight, while Whitney Cawley chipped in six.
Liberty, meanwhile, unveiled something of an arsenal. Jocelyn Thompson muscled her way to 15 points, nearly all of them coming from the paint.
Fellow front-court player Nicole Smith popped in 13, before departing the game after committing her fifth foul.
"Anytime my bigs can step up, it's hard to play us," said Liberty Head Coach Mike Jones.
Thompson added 11 rebounds in what was her best night playing as a Minette. "I've challenged her to be a leader," said Jones. "She's starting to step up and show what she can bring to the table."
Future foes be warned: Liberty has an inside game.
It also has an outside one. Freshman point guard Kasey Carr led all scorers with 14 points, six of them coming from behind the three-point arc. Carr also showed a high level of peskiness, nabbing a quartet of steals.
The fourth player in double figures was Mikalah Jones, who had 13 points. Two things to note here.
1) Liberty had enough scoring output that all of Jones' points were, in essence, superfluous. Not that the Minettes would turn their noses up at them. Not that they weren't valuable.
What this shows is that Jones, one of the premier players in the area, doesn't have to do always be the scoring leader. Which leads us to:
2) Teams will have to do more than double up defensively on Jones if they want to shut down the Minettes.
The win over Staunton River shows that Liberty has many, varied options for scoring beyond having Jones make hard drives through opposing defenses. That bodes well for the future.
You can bet that opposing coaches are re-thinking how they will set up their defenses in preparation for meeting the suddenly high-flying Minettes.
Liberty had its tires kicked on Tuesday (after press time). That's because the Minettes headed to Heritage to face a team that is favored by many to win the Seminole. How the visitors from Bedford fared in that game (which took place after this newspaper's press time) will likely provide a good indicator of how the season might go.
Additionally, the Minettes host Rustburg this Thursday before heading to E.C. Glass and the Beacon Classic Tourney on Saturday.