The Liberty girls basketball team got to the UIL 5A championship game the same way that it got to the state tournament:
Defense and toughness.
“The reason we’re here is because of our perseverance and our mental toughness,” Liberty coach Ross Reedy said after Liberty’s 34-28 victory over Kerrville Tivy on Thursday at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
The victory put Liberty in the 5A title game against the winner of Amarillo and Fort Bend Hightower, who played Thursday in the second semifinal. The 5A championship game is Saturday at 3 p.m.
Liberty (32-10) didn’t trail Tivy after the first quarter, but the Redhawks couldn’t pull away from Tivy (37-2). The game was tied at 27-27 when Liberty’s Kailyn Lay drove for a layup and was fouled. She made the free throw to give Liberty a three-point lead, and Randi Thompson followed with a layup to make it 32-27 with 1:37 left.
Liberty’s defense then clinched the victory. In the final minute, Thompson had two steals and MaKenzi Glover had one to put away Tivy. Thompson led Liberty with 16 points, but she said she was thinking a lot more about defense than offense in the game.
“We were really thinking ‘defense, defense, defense.'”
That thinking paid off. Liberty held Tivy to only 10 field goals and forced the team from the San Antonio area into 20 turnovers.
“That was a really good team,” Tivy coach Christy Dill said of Liberty. “They were well coached. They played hellacious defense.”