Liberty's defense smothers Douglas

Liberty's girls basketball team doesn't really attempt to trick anyone on defense.

The Patriots aggressively pressure and trap all over the floor from the opening tip until it isn't needed any more.

On Wednesday, the Patriots showed just how effective their swarming defense can be.

Liberty forced 24 first-half turnovers, building a 33-6 lead and cruising past Douglas 54-15 in the Las Vegas Holiday Classic at Centennial.

"That's a lot of turnovers," Liberty coach Quintin Lester said. "We just knew that they didn't have anybody who could really create for them, so if we could just challenge defensively and get our hands out and force some turnovers, we'd be successful."

Liberty (11-1) led 6-4 in the opening minutes before going on a 19-0 run, capped by Alena Evans' transition basket with just more than five minutes left in the second quarter.

Erica Macias' basket with 4:40 to play in the second quarter accounted for Douglas' only points of the quarter, and Liberty closed the half on an 8-0 spurt.

All but one of the 24 first-half turnovers came off of errant passes by Douglas or Liberty steals, and it led to easy offense for the Patriots, who have thrived so far this season in transition.

"It's been the staple of our program," said Lester, who is in his third season. "They know if they don't defend that they're not going to play, no matter if they can put the ball in the basket or not."

Liberty's 11 wins have come by an average of 41.5 points, despite having lost three guards to graduation from last season's Class 4A state runner-up team.

The transition offense, though, hasn't lost a beat.

Sydney Clark had 14 points, Evans tallied 12 and Tae'lor Monroe 11 for Liberty, which held Douglas without a point in the final 10 minutes of the game. The Tigers finished with 38 turnovers.

"There are times when our offense hasn't clicked," said Lester, whose team beat Western 59-7 in its first tournament game Wednesday. "There are games where it looks good and other games where we don't get much. If we can continue to defend, we'll be in every game."

Contact reporter Bartt Davis at or (702) 387-5230.