Reed's strong start throttles Liberty

RENO -- Liberty rarely was intimidated this season in storming to the first Sunrise Region championship in program history.

But in the semifinals of the Class 4A state girls basketball tournament Thursday, the stage proved too much to handle for the Patriots.

Reed jumped to a 14-2 lead early and cruised to a 69-53 victory over Liberty at Lawlor Events Center.

"I think the emotions of the game got to us and got us out of our element," Liberty guard Jade Washington said of the poor start. "We just didn't play any defense like last game.

"The first quarter, that's what killed us."

The Patriots (25-5) trailed 32-19 at halftime and didn't narrow the deficit to less than 11 points in the second half.

"It was a bit surprising we came out so flat because this morning we were focused," Liberty coach Quintin Lester said. "But it was just a bad start.

"I think that first quarter really hurt us because once we settled down, we obviously played OK."

Liberty struggled to contain Reed senior Danielle Peacon, who scored 12 of her game-high 23 points in the first quarter. The 6-foot-1-inch center hit two of her three 3-pointers in the first period.

"I've got to give it to (Peacon). She's a good player," said Washington, who led Liberty with 16 points. "But I feel like we could have done better on her."

Nyasha Lesure scored 15 points and Micah Walker 10 for the Raiders (18-6).

Amanda Delgado scored 15 points and Destiny Whitehead 11 for Liberty, which shot 16-for-63 (25.4 percent) from the floor. The Patriots were 2-for-17 on 3-pointers.

Reed will play against Bishop Gorman at 6 p.m. today for its first state title since taking the 3A crown in 1993.

Liberty is poised to return all but one starter -- center Daynice Cochran -- next season.

The Patriots will lose only three seniors overall.

"We made a lot of history, but next year, we're going to be back, and we're going to be here again," Washington said. "We've got to keep our heads up and move on."

In addition to reaching their first state tournament this season, the Patriots went 13-1 in the Southeast League, dethroning perennial power Green Valley for the title.

"It's a very special basketball team," Lester said. "They're going to be extremely driven to get better."

Contact reporter Tristan Aird at or 702-387-5203.