By: Nate Calvin
MILLBURY – Play was ragged at times in the Division III district semifinal between Liberty Center and Delta with both teams shooting under 40% from the field and combining for 48 turnovers on the night.
After a 6/27 first half shooting, Liberty Center was 9/15 in the second half as they pulled away from a scrappy Delta team for the 41-31 win.
An early bucket by Delta’s Khloe Weber gave the Panthers a 4-3 lead before the Tigers defense would begin to crank up.
An 8-2 run for the Tigers was capped off by consecutive layups by Elle Mohler and Nicole Keller off Delta turnovers to make the score 11-6.
The Panthers stayed close to start the second with a Sophia Burress trey and a Kendall Sprow free throw to trim the Tiger lead to 13-12.
Both offenses struggled in the second frame as the Tigers first points wouldn’t come until 2:45 left in the half on a Kailey Blanton jumper.
The Tigers started to build on their 16-13 halftime lead in the third quarter with an 8-1 run featuring buckets by Alyssa Giesige and Emerson Gray and a triple from Peyton Armey to make it a 26-17 game.
Gray would add another three ball later in the quarter and Blanton scored on a driving layup to give Liberty Center a 31-21 heading to the fourth.
The Tiger advantage continued to grow to open the final frame as Armey and Gray had field goals to make it 35-21.
Delta responded with six straight points on a Grace Munger bucket and two hoops from Sprow to cut the lead to 35-27.
Liberty Center came back with 6-0 spurt of their own to put the game away with three makes from the foul line and a triple by Gracie Miller as the lead was back to double-digits at 41-27.
Gray led the Tigers, who had nine players reach the scoring column with 11 and Armey tallied 10.
Sprow was the lone Panther (11-13) in double figures with 10 points, nine of those in the second half.
Top-seeded Liberty Center (21-3) will take on No. 2 Van Buren in the district finals on Saturday at 1pm at Lake High School.
Van Buren knocked off Evergreen (14-10) 58-38 in the first semifinal of the night. No statistics were reported.
DELTA (31) – Weber 6; Munger 6; Burress 3; Martinez 0; Friess 1; Sprow 10; Lamb 3; Gillen 0; Smith 2; Todd 0; Risner 0; Totals: 11-2-3 – 31
LIBERTY CENTER (41) – Giesige 3; Gray 11; E. Mohler 2; Armey 10; H. Mohler 3; Keller 2; Perry 0; Miller 3; Jones 0; Barrett 2; Blanton 5; Totals: 11-4-7 – 41
GAME STATISTICS – DELTA: FG – 13/43 (30%); FT – 3/9 (33%); Rebounds – 23 (10 offensive); Turnovers – 24; L. CENTER: FG – 15/42 (35%); FT – 7/15 (46%); Rebounds – 27 (12 offensive); Turnovers – 24
DELTA 8 5 8 10 – 31
L. CENTER 13 3 15 10 – 41
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Source: The Village Reporter