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Simple strategy keys Patriots’ tourney win

Liberty High girls basketball coach Quentin Lester didn’t know much about his team’s opponent Monday, so he figured there was little point in making significant adjustments to his typical game plan.

The strategy — or lack thereof — worked to perfection, as the Patriots rolled to a 64-50 win over Boyd County, Ky., in the first round of Gold Division play in the Lady Wolves Holiday Tournament at Basic.

Jade Washington scored 18 points and Amanda Delgado had 17 points and four steals to lead Liberty, which will face Rancho today at 8 a.m.

“All we knew was (Boyd County) had lots of shooters and a big post player,” Lester said. “We made some slight adjustments, but we mostly just prepared to play the game we play.”

Besides a brief one-point deficit in the first quarter, the Patriots led throughout. An 8-0 scoring spurt starting when Washington hit a free throw late in the first quarter put them in command.

Liberty struggled to put the game out of reach, however, as the Lions bounced back each time they appeared buried.

“We’re a team and we all play together,” said Delgado, whose squad hit 13 of its 14 free-throw attempts in the fourth quarter. “We just knew we were going to have to hustle after the ball, get some steals and stay focused and calm.”

The Patriots achieved each of those goals, especially after seeing a 45-31 lead shrink to seven points when Boyd County’s Courtney Moore nailed a 3-pointer midway through the fourth quarter.

Delgado answered by hitting two free throws with 2:39 remaining to ignite a 9-0 Liberty run. Her fast-break layup with 1:05 left completed the spurt and put the game out of reach at 64-48 with 1:05 to go.

“We just stuck to what we were trying to accomplish,” said Lester, whose team logged 19 steals. “We continued with our defensive pressure, and I think our speed caused them some problems.”

Delgado said the Patriots’ resiliency proved they should be considered a serious contender for the tournament championship.

“This game showed that when we stay focused, we can do whatever it takes to get through walls,” said Delgado, who scored 10 of her 17 points in the second half. “We’ll jump around it, go over it or do whatever we need to do.”

Alena Evans helped Liberty with 16 points, seven rebounds and six steals. Teammate Destiny Whitehead had seven points and six steals.

Moore scored 12 of her 15 points in the second half to lead Boyd County.

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