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LIBERTY INVITATIONAL: Legacy rides pressure defense to win

Legacy girls basketball coach Tiffany Richardson knows her team won’t outrebound many of its opponents this season.

However, the Longhorns won’t need to if their small lineup continues to defend the way they did Friday.

Legacy created 26 turnovers — and finished with 16 steals — to run away with a 58-35 victory over Las Vegas High in pool play of the Liberty Invitational at Liberty. The Longhorns were one of three teams to finish 2-0 on the day.

“There’s a lot of stuff we need to work on, but for the first day … not too bad,” Richardson said. “If we go out and play every game on the defensive end first, I think we’re going to be in a lot of ballgames.”

Legacy forced 16 first-half turnovers, and held the Wildcats to just 25 percent shooting from the field. It was the defense, particularly from the small guards, that created fast-break opportunities and helped the Longhorns take a 42-14 halftime lead.

“That’s going to be key,” Richardson said of her perimeter defense. “A big part of our offense is going to come from our guard pressure. Because even my posts are small posts. Hopefully that’s something we can work on in practice — blocking out and going better rebounding.”

TaEha Pankey connected on four 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 25 points to spark the offense. The 5-foot-6-inch junior also had three steals for Legacy, which played without starters C’Aree Stevenson and Otilia Price, who were on Thanksgiving vacation.

“I missed them and would love to have them back, but the others played as a team,” Richardson said. “That’s what I take from this day. They look like a team — passing the ball, sharing, looking for each other, trying to run the offense.”

Pankey made three of her four 3-pointers in the second quarter as Legacy outscored Las Vegas 24-7 and never looked back.

“She shot out of the world today,” Richardson said. “I know she’s a good shooter. Sometimes I have to tell her to bring it in a little bit. But what can you tell her when she’s hot like that?”

Rory Carter added 18 points for Legacy, and teammate Maiah Yearwood had seven steals and four rebounds.

Armonnie Byrd had 16 points, 12 rebounds and four blocked shots to pace Las Vegas (0-2).

Jasmine Perez added seven points and five rebounds, and Isis Cotton pulled down 11 boards for the Wildcats.

Legacy 51, Clark 27 — Pankey scored 17 points to lead the Longhorns by the Chargers in pool play.

Carter and Yearwood each added seven points for Legacy.

Marieka Dent led Clark with 15 points.

Faith Lutheran 55, Las Vegas 30 — Isabel Thornton had 12 points, and Maddy Larson scored 11 to lift the Crusaders over the Wildcats in pool play.

Casey Proctor added nine points for Faith Lutheran, which led 23-7 after the first quarter.

Byrd led Las Vegas with 12 points.

Faith Lutheran 67, Clark 25 — Larson scored a game-high 18 points, and Ellie Fried added 10 points to help the Crusaders down the Chargers in pool play.

Kendall Larson had nine points for Faith Lutheran.

Dent had 10 points to lead Clark.

Liberty 77, Palo Verde 26 — Kaily Kaimikaua scored 14 of her 21 points in the first half as the Patriots routed the Panthers in pool play.

Alexis Tomassi added eight points for Liberty, which led 48-18 at halftime.

Ariana Davis led Palo Verde with six points.

Liberty 66, Valley 22 — London Pavlica had 11 points, and Amanda Pembertson scored nine to power the Patriots by the Vikings in pool play.

Kaimikaua added eight points for Liberty.

Valley’s Sondra Scroggins finished with 12 points.

Rancho 37, Valley 23 — Kyndal Ricks had 11 points to lead the Rams by the Vikings in pool play.

Courtney Plumer added seven points for Rancho, which outscored Valley 15-1 in the third quarter.

Sydney Starks scored 11 for Valley.

Palo Verde 45, Rancho 27 — Davis had 16 points, and the Panthers used a strong second half to defeat the Rams in pool play.

Abbey Hoegh added 11 points for Palo Verde, which led 19-18 at halftime.

Lea Williams scored nine for Rancho.

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