By Lori Brown
LIBERTY Defense was the key when the Liberty Lady Indians hosted the Monticello Lady Panthers on Monday night in a non-league basketball game.
Monticello’s press defense gave Liberty trouble for the entire game. As a result, the Lady Panthers recorded a 51-29 victory.
“We were concerned with Liberty’s Olivia Baum and Justice Dingevan,” Monticello Coach Karen Atack said. “Our press helped so they couldn’t get down the court.”
In the first two minutes of the game, neither team could make a basket. Monticello (7-5) then went on a six-point run to take an early lead. Liberty’s Olivia Baum ended the Lady Panthers’ run by scoring a basket.
But Monticello held an 8-3 lead at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Liberty guard Justice Dingevan made two 3-pointers to try to cut her team’s deficit. But Monticello continued to get rebounds, drive down the court and make baskets. A 12-0 run in the last three minutes of the period, which included eight points by Shamira Moore, helped the Lady Panthers take a 30-12 advantage at halftime.
The third quarter was relatively even as Monticello outscored the Lady Indians 10-6. Each team recorded several steals in those eight minutes, but couldn’t always finish with a successful shot, which kept the score low. Monticello’s Nyasia Blakney had a big quarter as she scored eight points, including six with less than a minute left in the quarter.
In the fourth period, both teams scored 11 points and shot several free throws. Liberty (4-8) shot 9-for-14 from the foul line, while Monticello was 1-of-10 at the line. Liberty’s Nikole Snyder made 5-of -6 free throws in the quarter.
Blakney and Moore led Monticello to the win. Blakney had a double-double of 18 points and 16 rebounds, while Moore also scored 18 points. In addition, Blakney made eight steals.
“We had quite a few people playing; our rotation was good,” Atack said. “Zequia Revell played great defense and had three blocks and eight rebounds. She is a quiet player, but has a superb defensive game.
“We will take it,” Atack said of the victory. “The Goshen game on Friday was a heartbreaker as we went into overtime and they defeated us 48-40.”
Liberty’s top scorer was Dingevan, who had 11 points. She also made a trio of 3-point shots. Olivia Baum scored 10 points, including a pair of 3-pointers.
“We didn’t take care of the basketball,” Liberty Coach Beth Quatrale said. “We are a much better team than we showed today. [But] we didn’t give up, we gave 100 percent.
“We were missing one starter, Selena Vargas,” Quatrale continued. “She boxes out, pounds the boards and gives all heart. The biggest thing is we showed improvement and have pride. They have definitely matured. They look to me when they wait in the locker room after each game. They show they are maturing as a group.”
The Lady Indians and Lady Panthers have set the same goal for the remainder of the season. Both teams need two more wins to get into sectionals.
Liberty needs to win two of its three remaining Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division IV games to reach the postseason. The team is scheduled to host The Family School tonight in a non-league game.
Monticello returns to the court next Wednesday to face Warwick in a non-league game. The Lady Panthers then play John S. Burke in a non-league game next Friday.