Liberty girls basketball coach Rich Santigate subscribes to a straightforward coaching philosophy.
“I was taught you come with everything in the ball bag,” Santigate said, “and you use what you have to use.”
On Monday, that turned out to be a change in defense.
The host Patriots switched to a 1-3-1 trap after halftime and held Green Valley to four field goals in the final two quarters to earn a 62-46 victory.
“I think in the second half we made them uncomfortable and made them do some things they may not have been prepared to do,” Santigate said. “The balance we have in our team with our height and speed allows us to play a lot of defensive schemes.”
Jazmin O’Bannon finished with 19 points, five rebounds and two blocked shots. Kealy Brown added 16 points, eight rebounds and four steals for No. 4 Liberty (14-4), which has won seven straight.
“Jazmin O’Bannon is a big piece,” Santigate said of the 6-foot-3-inch senior, who missed most of last season with a knee injury. “Getting her back makes a big team even bigger.”
The No. 6 Gators (12-7) trailed only 31-29 at halftime, with guard Rianna Rudolph scoring 17 points. However, she was held scoreless in the second half, when the Gators missed 29 of their 33 field-goal attempts.
Ellee Barton had 12 points and eight rebounds, and Maggie Manwarren totaled six points, five assists and five rebounds for Green Valley. The Gators shot 23.6 percent (13 of 55) overall, including 5 of 27 from 3-point range, and committed 19 turnovers.
“I don’t want to say we live by the 3 and die by the 3, but we need to find better balance, even against a team that size,” Green Valley coach Eric Johnston said. “The defense they switched to gave us a lot of trouble. They got out on shooters a lot more.”
Liberty held the Gators scoreless for 5-minute, 35-second stretch in the third quarter and used a 9-0 run to take a 42-34 lead. O’Bannon’s three-point play after the Patriots broke Green Valley’s press gave Liberty a 51-39 lead midway through the fourth.
Gracelle Garcia made a 3-pointer with 2:24 left — Green Valley’s only field goal in the quarter — to cut the Patriots’ lead to 53-44, but Paris Strawther’s three-point play restored Liberty’s double-digit lead.
Strawther finished with nine points, nine rebounds and two blocks, and Jamellia Clark had nine boards as Liberty outrebounded the Gators, 50-32.
“They are a team we have to get through to win the (Sunrise) region,” Santigate said. “So, we had that in mind when we scheduled this game.”
Contact reporter David Schoen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5203. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidSchoenLVRJ.