By EARL WATT
• Leader & Times
Restoring respect to the Lady Redskins basketball program has been a tough process for Liberal coach Bill Baird, but the turnaround took another step forward with a 49-31 win at Hays Thursday.
Defeating a winless opponent would usually not carry much weight, but for the Lady Redskins, the win was the first against a Western Athletic Conference opponent since 2012 and the first over Hays in eight tries.
Liberal’s win snapped a 20-game losing streak in the WAC and was the third straight win for the Lady Redskins after an 0-4 start to the season.
Jai Chapman continued to shine for the Lady Redskins with 16 points.
The ket to Liberal’s recent turnaround has been their ability to move the ball and handle full court pressure, something that did not come easy in the first four games of the season.
Better ball handling and a more aggressive approach early in the game has sparked the Lady Redskins to a winning streak, and the same happened in Hays.
Liberal opened the game on a 10-0 run and opened up a 19-point lead by half with a 32-13 advantage.
The Lady Redskins allowed Hays to cut the lead to 32-17 early in the third quarter but quickly restored their advantage with a three-pointer and a putback basket.
The Lady Redskins continued to build their lead while Baird played a number of substitutes, and the Lady Redskins had a21-point lead before a Lady Indian ended the game with a buzz-beating three-pointer to narrow Liberal’s margin of victory to 18.
Still, the Lady Redskins were able to celebrate their first WAC win in almost three years.
The Lady Redskins will take the momentum on the road to face the defending WAC champs in Garden City.
The Lady Buffaloes are off to a 4-3 start to the season and are 1-1 in the WAC after defeating Dodge City (53-46) and losing at home Friday to Great Bend (48-42).
Great Bend 1-0 5-1
Liberal 1-0 3-4
Garden City 1-1 4-3
Hays 0-1 0-7
Dodge City 0-1 3-3