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Girls Basketball: Leadership evident in Lions’ first county win

Liberty's senior leadership is rubbing off on the Lions' underclassmen.

Freshman guard Jordan Nastos scored 11 points and seemed to be in the right place at the right time for her teammates in a 69-33 victory over cross-town rival Century.

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Much of Nastos' early progress on varsity is a testament to the team's veterans, she said.

"It's really fun and it's better because I feel like they know the stuff and can help me improve on my skills," Nastos said. "I feel like today I did a better job of driving down the middle after watching how Grace [Griffin] drives to the middle."

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Led by seniors Jess Cronin and Grace Griffin, the Lions snapped a three-game losing skid in Monday's victory. Cronin notched a triple-double with 16 points, 14 rebounds and 12 steals, and Griffin scored a game-high 19.

Griffin scored nine straight amid a Liberty 14-0 run in the first quarter. Senior forward Hannah Miller's basket to open the second frame put the Lions ahead of Century 17-0. The Knights tallied 14 points in the second quarter, their most of the game and junior center Kelsey Weishaar scored seven, three of which were free throws.

Weishaar, who finished with a team-high 16 points, used a 7-0 run of her own to cut the deficit 37-19 in the third. Nastos capitalized on a Lions' 8-0 run with a steal and drove down the court to give Liberty a 49-22 lead minutes later.

In the final quarter, Cronin went up for a block in the Knights' offensive zone, the ball fell into Griffin's hands and Griffin tossed it to Nastos — she ran, untouched, to the basket for a field goal and the Lions led 55-28 with about five minutes to go.

The Knights closed out the game with three final points from freshman forward Jessica Diorio, who scored six in the contest. Weishaar had a team-high 16 points.

Liberty (2-3, 1-1) recently suffered a 70-64 loss to Francis Scott Key in its county opener on Dec. 13 and coach Barry Green was adamant about avoiding another mishap.

"They were very focused and very disciplined," Green said. "We had a game plan after a setback in the county opener and we didn't want that to extend to the second county game, so we basically fulfilled what our expectations were to the fullest."

The Knights (0-5, 0-2) have yet to garner a win this season and face Loch Raven on Wednesday.

Liberty senior Grace Griffin drives down the court while defended by Century's Kaitlyn Huber during the first half of the Lions' 69-33 win over Century in Eldersburg Monday, Dec. 19, 2016.
Liberty senior Grace Griffin drives down the court while defended by Century's Kaitlyn Huber during the first half of the Lions' 69-33 win over Century in Eldersburg Monday, Dec. 19, 2016.(DYLAN SLAGLE/STAFF PHOTO / Carroll County Times)

Nastos is one of two freshmen on the Lions' roster this year, and Green said having playmakers like Cronin and Griffin on the court is essential for the growth of his team.

"Paramount," he said. "For us, they're extremely important and they play a significant role not only in developing our freshmen but continuing the legacy of what we're trying to do here at Liberty."

Century (33): Kelsey Weishaar 16, Jessica Diorio 6, Kaitlyn Huber 6, Angelina Bruno 3, Sarah Deese 2.

Liberty (69): Grace Griffin 19, Jess Cronin 16, Jordan Nastos 11, Logan Heydon 7, Sophie Poling 6, Lindsay Kovak 4, Hannah Miller 4, Rachel Thiem 2.

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Halftime: Liberty, 33-14.

JV result: Century, 34-33.

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