Liberty didn't get many scoring opportunities against South Carroll on Thursday night, but took full advantage of the ones that came to be.
In the end, that was all that mattered. The Lions went on a 5-0 run with three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter to contain South Carroll and defeat their county rivals 45-40.
"Coming in we all had butterflies before playing our rivals," senior guard Maddee Farley said. "South Carroll is a very good defensive team, Keriann [McTavish] is a great shooter, Bri [Heim] is a very good post player, she gets the rebounds and crashes the boards so we had to work harder tonight."
Farley led the offense with seven assists and 18 points on the night. Senior guard Olivia Thompson had eight steals while junior center Jess Cronin had 11 rebounds and six points.
South Carroll senior guard Keriann McTavish opened the scoring with a three-pointer and the Cavaliers rolled to an early 6-0 lead. The Lions bounced back and a 3-pointer from Farley put the Lions ahead, eventually building to a 12-10 lead heading into the second quarter.
That defensive battle carried over with South Carroll again containing Liberty early on. A pair of free throws from senior forward Bri Heim boosted the Cavs' 7-0 run to lead the Lions 20-14. Liberty went on a 7-0 run of their own and Farley's shot tied the Cavs at 20-20.
At the half, South Carroll held a one-point advantage over Liberty but the second half took a different turn. The Lions (5-3, 4-1 county) remained on the Cavs' heels and made all of their free throws, crucial points necessary en route to a potential comeback.
"South Carroll is tremendous defensively," Lions' coach Barry Green said. "We had to whether the opening of the third quarter because, like most teams, they come out very aggressive. For most of the quarter, we used that last minute to make easier buckets and when you're playing a really good defensive team, you have to execute on all variables and our girls did a great job of doing that."
Liberty entered the final quarter down by one, 31-30, but after back-to-back scoring ensued, the Lions opened up a much-needed 5-0 run to grab a 39-37 lead. Heim missed two free throws and McTavish's last shot was just shy of the basket. A South Carroll foul gave Liberty guard Taylor Jackson two free throw attempts with seconds to go and Jackson sank them both, securing the Lions' victory.
South Carroll fell to 8-3 and suffered its first county loss (4-1).
"We knew it would be a tight game the whole way through," Cavs coach Liz Padgett said. "We were ready for a back-and-forth battle and tonight they came out on top. They had more free throws and rebounds than we did and those are things we'll have to fix and work on."
Liberty (45): Maddee Farley 18, Olivia Thompson 11, Grace Griffin 8, Jess Cronin 6, Taylor Jackson 2.
South Carroll (40): Keriann McTavish 15, Bri Heim 12, Rachel Estes 5, Bailey Patrick 4, Sam Franklin 3.
Halftime: South Carroll, 21-20.