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Liberty girls basketball completes undefeated regular season, secures Carroll County Athletic League crown

A third-quarter scoring run gave Liberty the lead once again during Wednesday’s girls basketball game against Manchester Valley, and the Lions used it to finish off their undefeated season.

Liberty pulled away from the Mavericks for a 55-44 victory and celebrated the Carroll County Athletic League championship with a perfect 13-0 record.

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The music during the timeouts told the story the rest of the way as Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” featuring the line, “If you liked it then you should’ve put a ring on it,” blared over the loud speaker. After the game it was Queen’s “We Are The Champions” that was the theme song.

“Undefeated, unprecedented. I understand it’s the first time in our school history to be undefeated county champions and the third time in Carroll County history,” said Liberty coach Barry Green, whose team won its first title since 2015.

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The third quarter belong to senior Kayla Allen (team-high 14 points, five assists, three steals), who scored the first six points of the 8-0 run and assisted on the other two to Jess Littlejohn that made it 33-27 with 5:06 remaining.

Allen also spearheaded the intense pressure man-to-man defense that forced eight MV turnovers in the third quarter and six in the fourth.

“We just knew we had to be more aggressive on defense and really work together as a team and it ended up working out for us in the end,” Allen said.

A basket by Kendall Reitz and free throw from Kyrsten Lucas cut the lead to 33-30 with 1:15 left, but Liberty closed the quarter with press-break baskets by senior Samantha Hardy and Allen in the final 40 seconds for a 37-30 lead.

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“I told them if we take this lead, we have a shot in this game,” Manchester Valley coach Heather DeWees said. “They didn’t let us have that shot, they came right back at us and I think that is a true testament to coaching, to the girls on his team and their desire to go undefeated.”

Liberty’s Green was happy to see the visitors go to the press.

“We were hoping they would because you cannot press this team because they are together on the court,” said Green, whose squad went on a 10-0 run between quarters before a 3-pointer by Aubrey Chopper broke the ice, making it 43-33 with 5:49 left to play.

Liberty continued to attack the press in the final quarter with Littlejohn leading the way with eight points and Hardy adding six.

Ironically, senior Alex Bull, who led the team in scoring this season (16 points a game) was the only starter not in double figures (eight points, five rebounds). Maddi Haggerty scored all 10 of her points in the first quarter, Littlejohn had 12, and Hardy finished with 11.

Manchester Valley stayed close in the first half, thanks to out-rebounding the Lions 17-8, including 12-1 on the offensive boards. The Mavs were led in scoring (17 points) and rebounding (11) by Carmaya Bowman, who had six of her nine offensive rebounds in the first half.

Green expected her to dominate the boards.

“Of course we did, they’ve got the chairwoman of the boards,” Green said. “She played exactly as we thought she would.”

Reese Kresslein added nine rebounds and Reitz had six for Man Valley.

“Kendall Reitz had a great game,” DeWees said. “Here’s a kid who didn’t get a lot of playing time previously and really stepped up and did a lot of good things for us and when she did that she created openings for Carmaya Bowman.”

DeWees, whose squad lost by 11 both times against Liberty, the closest margin of victory of any games, also praised her opponent.

“Kudos to Barry, they are very well-coached, they are very unselfish, they play well together as a team and they are very disciplined,” she said.

Green couldn’t stress enough how teamwork carried his squad through its magical season.

“My girls just played the best team basketball that we could possible play, most importantly defending together,” Green said. “We were helping each other, communicating and we were moving our feet and not giving up fouls.”

It’s that cohesiveness that Allen is going to miss.

“It’s amazing, we worked so hard to get here,” she said. “It was great team chemistry. “I still can’t believe this is my last game. I’m probably going to take it all in.”

Allen also appreciated having any season at all.

“I’m so very, very thankful about that and for everyone who put this all together and made it happen,” she said.

Manchester Valley (44): Carmaya Bowman 17, Reese Kresslein 6, Kendall Reitz 6, Taylor Leaman 5, Autumn Stottlemire 4, Krysten Lucas 3, Aubrey Chopper 3.

Liberty (55): Kayla Allen 14, Jess Littlejohn 12, Samantha Hardy 11, Maddi Haggerty 10, Alex Bull 8.

Halftime: Liberty, 25-24.

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