Machia Mullens takes a mid-range jumper against Bishop Carroll Friday night in The Big House during the Sub State championship game. Mullens was limited to only four points in a 40-30 loss that ended the Lady Redskins’ season at 17-5. L&T photo/Earl Watt
By EARL WATT
• Leader & Times
All season long, the Lady Redskins used three-point shot to open up the inside game.
But in the Sub State championship against Bishop Carroll, the outside shots weren’t falling, and the Lady Golden Eagles kept the lane packed in, denying shot attempts by Machia Mullens and Jada Mickens, and without success from outside, Liberal fell 40-30.
Liberal was outshot from long range early and often. Carroll connected on seven threes in the game while the Lady Redskins only made three.
And Carroll’s shots were almost always uncontested while the Lady Redskins were shooting through defensive pressure.
After a rebound and putback by Mullens to start the gane, Carroll hit back-to-back threes to take a 6-2 lead.
Carroll added three more threes in the second quarter, and 15 of the Golden Eagles 24 first-half points came from long range.
Audrey Gilmore made Liberal’s only three of the first half, and the Lady Redskins trailed 24-13.
The Lady Redskins were able to get two threes in the third quarter, one from Whitney Hay and another from Laci Rush to match the two threes from Carroll, and after a basket by Reyna Gonzalez, the Lady Redskins trimmed the lead to five, 28-23. But Carroll ended the period with a three to take a 31-23 lead, and the Lady Redskins did not score for six minutes while Carroll stretched the lead to 36-23 midway through the fourth quarter.
Katie Horyna connected on a three to cut the lead to 10 with 3:25 to play, and the Lady Redskins started to send Carroll to the free throw line.
The strategy was a good one. Carroll only made four of 12 free throw attempts down the stretch.
But the Lady Redskins could not capitalize on offense, committing turnovers and taking low percentage shots.
Gonzalez added two rebound baskets in the final seconds in the 40-30 loss.
Senior standout Jada Mickens was limited to only two points in her last game as a Lady Redskin, and Mullens only had four.
Gonzalez led the Lady Redskins with eight points. Horyna and Hay each had five.
“We had too much of everything,” Liberal coach Carter Kruger said. “Turnovers, we didn’t shoot the ball well enough. We didn’t get the quality of shots we needed. They packed it in and made it tough.”
Carroll also used a full court press that resulted in a number of turnovers.
“We knew they were going to do it,” Kruger said. “Quite a few times we broke the press really well. We used pass fakes, changed speeds. But there were too many times where we didn’t. Every possession matters. That was tough for us tonight.”
Still, the Lady Redskins (17-4) won the Western Athletic Conference title this season and earned home court advantage.
“I’m disappointed on how it ended, but the biggest statement is the energy in the gym,” Kruger said. “We energized our city of Liberal, we made girls basketball the place to be. I’m excited about what we accomplished. Once this settles down, we will be able to appreciate just how special this year was.”