HOLGATE — It wasn’t always pretty, but the Liberty Center girls basketball team found a rally just in time to escape the Tiger Cage with a 39-33 win over Holgate Tuesday in non-league action.
LC coach Tim Davis said he’s proud of how his team played despite not playing its best basketball.
“For three and a half quarters, this was one of the ugliest games I’ve seen,” Davis said. “We kept fighting and fighting through adversity and missed layups. Give credit to our girls for continuing to battle through that adversity.”
Cassidy Chapa scored a team-high 15 points, including nine of the last 10 LC points to rally the Lady Tigers from a late five-point hole to the six-point win.
“Cassidy was huge in the last four minutes,” Davis said.
Holgate got 16 points and 12 rebounds from sophomore Justine Eis, but struggled with turnovers throughout the contest. The host Lady Tigers gave the ball up 33 times.
“I thought we were bad early on,” Holgate coach Scott Giesige said. “I hate to use this as an excuse, but we are young. They got into us early, they forced turnovers and we played nervous. We’re young kids, so the one thing I keep pressing is fundamentals, but we’ve got to stop turning the ball over.”
Olivia Blaker added 11 points for Holgate, including five-straight in a third-quarter sequence that put the Lady Tigers up by a point. Jordyn Altman chipped in five and Madison Clark added two to round out the Holgate scoring.
Senior Raena Willett was held scoreless and fouled out with roughly four minutes left in the game, allowing Liberty Center to claw back into the game.
Chapa finished three-straight LC possessions with a driving layup off glass, the last giving the Lady Tigers the lead for good before hitting three of four free throws to help ice the game.
“Her teammates are confident in her, even when she’s not scoring,” Giesige said. “I kept trying to say to them, sometimes loudly, that it isn’t a one-person team and that Raena is just a single part of the team. As the season goes, hopefully we’ll start playing together instead of watching Raena go.”
Samantha Engler added eight points for Liberty Center, which got five from Harmony Young and four from Aubree Hollenbaugh. Sophie Long chipped in three points while Samantha Graber and Kate Mohler each added two points.
Young and Abby Heath both fouled out battling against Eis down low, and Davis praised the work of his depth in making up the difference.
“We’ve got some players back from last year that played as sophomores, and those were the players that made plays,” Davis said. “I thought Sam Engler and Sophie Long did a great job defending Raena and making everything difficult. With Lucy (Jones) being out, it’s going to take every girl doing a little bit more each game out for us to have success.”
Liberty Center missed all 14 of its shots from deep while shooting 13 of 21 from the free-throw line, while Holgate hit on two of seven tries from three and 13 of 25 from the charity stripe.
Liberty Center (3-1) takes on Wayne Trace tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. in Haviland, while Holgate (0-3) travels to take on Patrick Henry tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. in the House of Heat.
LC 9 6 7 17 — 39
H 5 5 15 11 — 33
Liberty Center — Chapa 4-7-15, Graber 1-0-2, Engler 4-0-8, Young 2-1-5, Hollenbaugh 1-2-4, Long 0-3-3, Mohler 1-0-2, Totals: 13-13-39.
Holgate — Blaker 2-2-1-11, Eis 5-6-16, Altman 0-4-4, Clark 0-2-2, Totals: 7-2-13-33.