Juanita basketball team is too physical for Liberty

December 11, 2012

By Christina Corrales-Toy

Delane Agnew, Liberty High School’s senior forward, is fouled from behind by Juanita’s Tayler Lloyd during their Dec. 7 game. Juanita beat Liberty, 52-37. By Christina

For the first time this season, the Liberty High School gymnasium was buzzing with excitement, filled with an energetic student section ready to cheer on its girls basketball team in the Dec. 7 home opener against the Juanita Rebels.

But nerves, and the enthusiasm that comes with the first home game of the season, may have gotten the best of the Patriots, who fell to Juanita, 52-37, Liberty coach Randy Leifer said.

“I think part of it was nerves. You know we’re a pretty young team and it was our first home game, so they were excited,” he said.

The Patriots put themselves in a hole early, with poor shooting to begin the first half, sending the team into halftime down 23-13 to the Rebels.

But an energized Patriots team emerged for the second half, going on a run in which Liberty outscored Juanita, 14-10, in the third quarter.

With six minutes left in the game, Liberty had cut the deficit to just four points, with the Rebels leading, 36-32. But the short comeback was not enough to turn things around against the physical Juanita squad.

“We couldn’t make a basket early in the game, and then we settled in and shot a little bit better, and we got back in it and it looked like we were going to have a shot, and then we just missed a couple of opportunities,” Leifer said.

He gave a lot of credit to Juanita, a team that he said is probably among the best in the league.

“I think they are one of the top one or two teams in the league,” he said. “They’re a tough matchup for us, because they are physically so strong inside and their guards are so good.”

After witnessing the game, this week’s practice will be devoted to cleaning up shooting mistakes and playing a more physical brand of basketball, Leifer said.

“I thought we played hard, but we didn’t shoot the ball very well, and we made too many mistakes, and they really hurt us on the boards,” he said.

Liberty has a relatively young team this year, with only one senior, Delane Agnew, who led the team in scoring with 10 points during the Juanita game.

The Patriots return three all-league performers in Agnew, point guard Sierra Carlson and forward Ashlan Applegate, who all made honorable mention last year.

While the season is still in its infancy, Leifer said he has already seen good things from Agnew, Applegate and Carlson, as well as post Rebekah Campbell and sophomore Cherelle Demps.

“I think we’re a very deep team,” Leifer said. “We’re fairly athletic and we just need to shoot the ball better.”

But he said the team will need to step it up, in order to be considered among the best in the conference.

“I think we’ve got a lot of even players and we need to have a few people step up, but I’m not sure which one of those that’s going to be yet,” he said. “We’re going to have to play better if we want to be in that top group.”

Boys fall to Juanita, too

It was a Dec. 7 doubleheader at Liberty High School, as the boys also took on Juanita shortly after the girls’ game.

But the result was the same, with the Patriots falling to the Rebels, 76-61, beginning conference play with a loss.

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