Patriots hit a wall with pair of losses as regular season comes to a close

February 4, 2014

By Christina Corrales-Toy

It’s been nothing but smooth sailing this season for the 14-5 Liberty girls basketball team, but things got a little rocky just a week before the end of the season.

It began with a 53-45 loss to Mercer Island on Jan. 29, and continued with a 55-36 defeat at the hands of a determined Bellevue team Jan. 31. The Islanders and the Wolverines were both teams the Patriots beat earlier in the season

By Christina Corrales-Toy Samantha Kelderman (31), Liberty High School freshman, leaps for an offensive rebound in the Patriots’ 55-36 loss to Bellevue on Jan. 31.

By Christina Corrales-Toy
Samantha Kelderman (31), Liberty High School freshman, leaps for an offensive rebound in the Patriots’ 55-36 loss to Bellevue on Jan. 31.

“Hopefully, we’ve got this rough stretch out of the way,” Liberty coach Curtis Terry said. “I’d rather get it out now than in the playoffs, when it’s do or die.”

Ashlan Applegate put together an impressive game against the Islanders, matching her season high of 20 points and securing eight rebounds, but it wasn’t enough to hold off Mercer Island earlier in the week.

The Patriots looked to bounce back when they traveled to Bellevue on Jan. 31, in what was an emotional night for the Wolverines as they celebrated their seniors’ last home game.

Liberty felt good after its first quarter, Terry said, surging out to an early 13-11 lead. What followed, though, was nearly 12 minutes of searching, because no matter what they did, the Patriots just couldn’t find the basket.

That’s right, Liberty went nearly a quarter and a half without a score, as the ball bounced off the backboard, skirted across the rim and did all it could to avoid the net.

“We had a stretch where we struggled to put the ball in the basket, and that kind of affected our psyche, and it piled on and snowballed as the game went on,” Terry said. “We didn’t make shots, couldn’t get stops, it just continued on the rest of the way. It was just a tough night for us.”

The senior night emotions fueled Bellevue to the dominant victory, with senior Sierra Sublett putting together her best game of the season, scoring 11 points on 5-7 shooting.

“I know emotionally it was a big night for them. Senior night, they’re always amped up and ready to go,” Terry said. “Just got to take our hat off to them.”

The Patriots didn’t see anything different from this Bellevue team they beat 50-47 Jan. 8, Terry said. The Wolverines simply executed, while the Patriots did not.

“We just didn’t respond to adversity very well,” he said.

Applegate again led all Liberty scorers with 9 points. Freshman Samantha Kelderman was right behind her with eight.

Liberty has played well most of the season, so the late losses don’t hurt them as much, Terry said. The Patriots still have a chance to clinch the No. 2 spot in the league.

“We did enough early in the season to put ourselves in position,” he said, “and it isn’t a surprise, because we work hard and have the right goals in mind.”

Terry said his girls will have to focus on competing for a full game to get back to the level they were at for most of the year.

“It’s going to come down to pride, passion, wanting to do it,” he said. “It’s easy when things are going good to put that extra effort in, but when your backs are against the wall, it’s how you respond to adversity. We struggled with it tonight, but we’ve got a hardnosed, tough group of girls.”

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