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Minutemen sting; Minettes stung

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Liberty splits with Brookville Bees

By Mike Forster

 

The Liberty basketball teams reached the same fork in the road.  Said fork was at the corner of Brookville Boulevard and Seminole Street.

The guys went one way; the ladies went the other.

As in Minutemen 57, Brookville 47 and Bees 61, Minettes 41.

Combined with both teams picking up wins over Amherst and the Minettes falling to Heritage, we get the current situation:  The Liberty guys are still in the hunt for at least a piece of the Seminole District title.  The Minettes are now playing for second place.

The way is still fraught with obstacles, however.

 

M-Men are red hot

They were a team seemingly destined for a miserable season.  Instead, the Liberty boys have shown determination and backbone in turning around a once-moribund season.

Coming off a huge upset of Glass, the M-Men are on a roll.  The latest victims were Brookville and Amherst in a Friday-Saturday run.

The Bees played the Minutemen on even terms for nearly the entire game.  Both teams showed nerve and verve, laced with hustle.

After trailing 21-10 halfway through the second quarter, Liberty stormed back to tie it early in the third at 25 apiece.  Chris Sharrett's three-pointer closing the final piece of gap.

The game was still tied at 44 with three minutes remaining.  But Austin Porter hit a pair of free throws and a layup to establish a four-point Liberty edge.  Dajur Mobley, Porter and Kendrick Thompson iced the game by combining on five free throws.  Hey, sometimes free-throw practice pays off for you!

"I'm proud of my guys," said Liberty Head Coach Jeff Monroe.  "The last six games, we've played under control.  We're becoming more of a team and have what we were lacking at the start of the year:  trust."

His charges showed trust when, down 11, Monroe called a time out.  "I told them to stop panicking and stop making mistakes," recalled the coach.

His charges responded in kind.

They did against Amherst, as well.  Applying steady pressure and an even but upbeat tempo, the Minutemen cruised to a 69-52 win over the Lancers.  Leading the way was Porter, with 16 points, and Thompson with 15.

The M-Men are now 7-2 in the district and 9-8 overall.  It's the first time they've had an overall winning record since the third game of the season.

 

Minettes' bumpy road

Liberty headed into its home contest with Brookville in a great place.  A win would tie them with the Bees for the Seminole lead.

Instead, the Minettes dropped two games behind their archnemeses.  With Monday night's 69-58 loss to Heritage, the team is assuredly out of the running for the Seminole.  

It was certainly a roller-coster of a five-day run.  The Thursday loss to visiting Brookville was the worst game the Minettes have played all season.  The team was basically awe-struck by Brookville's candidate for Seminole Player of the Year Anitra Thomas.

"I don't know if they were tired or confused," said Liberty Head Coach Mike Jones, whose team led at halftime, 29-22.

That lead, by the way, could have been a lot more had Liberty finished off its plays.

The Minettes still had the lead until mid-way through the third quarter.  That's when Thomas hit a pair of free-throws to give Brookville the lead for good.  She then went on an end-to-end tear for a layup and pegged two more free throws.

But the heart-breaker seemed to come when Brookville's Megan Dray plucked a steal and nailed a 14-foot buzzer beater at the end of the third quarter.

From that point, Brookville just kept expanding the lead.  Thomas, who'd been limited to nine points in the first half, suddenly found herself with open lanes and open looks.  She finished with 30 points. Liberty standout Mikalah Jones sat out Saturday's game  with Amherst.  Others, however, stepped up.

In particular, McKenzie Tibbs and Kasey Carr had big games in the 60-56 win.  Tibbs scored 20 points, nailing four treys.  Carr pumped in 19.

"McKenzie needed to have a big game against a good team," said Jones.  "She did that."

Jones had also told Carr that he needed her to get 18-19 points for the team to have a shot.  She did just that.

Tibbs had another big night against a good team, scoring 19 points against Heritage.

But the Minettes were blown away by Cameron Carter, who posted 36.

"(My team) can play with anybody.  But can they play mentally?" rued Coach Jones.