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Liberty captures Area Championship with 44-38 victory over Palestine

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    The Liberty Lady Panthers are Area Champions after their 44-38 win over Palestine last Friday night.
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    Liberty's Jayci Lackey looks for post position against Palestine on Friday night at the Pack in Lufkin.

LUFKIN - Although things got tight in the fourth quarter, the Liberty Lady Panthers found a way to buckle down and ended the game, scoring the final five points of the night to capture the Area Championship on Friday night over Palestine 44-38.  

Liberty started the second half with a 10-1 run thanks to a three-pointer by Jaclyn Haley, and then another trey by Jayci Lackey, and the lead was up to 33-14 with 4:35 left in the third quarter.  

The Lady Cats went on a 6-0 run to close within 33-20 before a drive and score by Breezy Pantalion made it 35-20.  

The Lady Panthers scored the first bucket of the fourth quarter on a Pantalion offensive rebound and score and the lead was back to 39-24.  

Palestine then used their fullcourt press to force some turnovers and went on a 14-0 run and all of a sudden, the Lady Cats were within one at 39-38.  

At that point, Head Coach Kearsten Marion's squad showed the grit he has instilled in his team, and a Pantalion bucket pushed the lead back to 41-38.  

Tiana Patterson then scored on the inside, and the score was 43-38, and the Lady Panthers had taken back control of the game.  

Lackey then took a key charging foul on the defensive end, and after a made free throw with :06 seconds left, Liberty was moving on to the third round of the playoffs.  

The first quarter featured Palestine leading 4-2 until an offensive rebound and score by  Patterson tied the score at 4-apiece.  

The Lady Cats then went on a 9-4 run to lead 13-8 before the Lady Panthers said enough of that for the rest of the first half.  

A jumper by Tatelynn Carry pulled Liberty within 13-12, and then another score by Carry off the break moved the Lady Panthers ahead 14-13.   

Pantalion then scored off a nice pass from  Lackey and the lead was 16-13 and Liberty was on a 8-0 run and the Lady Cats needed a timeout.  

Leading 19-13, Lackey scored off a nice left-handed lay-up to make it 19-13. Patterson then went to work on the offensive boards and scored while she was fouled for a 23-13 advantage at the break.  

The Lady Panthers ended the second quarter outscoring the Lady Cats 13-0.  

"We took too many quick shots in the fourth quarter instead of running some clock and gave them a chance to make a run," said Marion. "But nothing fazes this group, and they just settled down and won the game."  

Patterson led Liberty in scoring with 11 points and Pantalion also finished in double figures with 10. Carry added 9 points and Haley chipped in with 8.  

The Lady Panthers will now face Madisonville on Tuesday night in the Regional Quarterfinals at Conroe High School at 6 pm.