Liberty tops depleted Owls, 35-33

No Bollinger, tough zone team to foil Westminster

Girls basketball

High Schools

January 09, 2002|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

With Westminster's top player unable to take the floor last night, the defense of host Liberty held court last night in an ugly 35-33 win.

Using a vexing matchup zone, the Lions held the Owls - playing without forward Emily Bollinger, the county's leading scorer at more than 16 points per game - to 19 percent shooting with 23 turnovers in capturing their biggest win of the young season.

"She's definitely one of their key players," Liberty's Holly Steinacker said of Bollinger, who missed her first game after spraining a foot on Saturday. "We just tried to use our quickness to our advantage."

Despite struggling on offense themselves, the Lions (5-3 overall, 2-0 county, 1-1 Central Maryland Conference) took advantage of Bollinger's absence by keeping Westminster (5-5, 1-1, 1-1) out of sync. After three quarters, the Owls were 7-for-50 from the field with 20 turnovers.

"We made poor decisions on the perimeter. When we had people open on the post, we didn't find them. We didn't play smart ball," said Westminster coach Dick Ebersole, who refused to blame Bollinger's absence for the poor showing. "That will never be an excuse as far as I'm concerned."

"We decided to go with a matchup [defense], and they couldn't figure it out," Liberty coach Mike Boehme said. "We had an advantage since Emily was out. It would've been a different game with her."

The decisive stretch of the game occurred midway through the fourth quarter. Tied at 25, Liberty took the lead for good when Steinacker (team-high 11 points) converted a three-point play following a jump hook, then stretched it to five when Laura Shand (nine points) followed with a put-back with 2:30 left.

The Lions extended the lead to six before Westminster rallied to cut it to 35-33 on a pair of foul shots by Kerry Higgs (10 points) and a layup by Jennifer Walkling (13), the latter with 6 seconds left.

After Shand missed two foul shots, Westminster had a chance to tie or win, but failed to get off a shot in the final 3.6 seconds.

Coming into the game having lost three of four - including a humbling setback to Linganore last Friday - Liberty got a huge emotional boost from the win.

"This turns everything around," Boehme said. "Westminster is the class of Carroll County, so to beat them is huge for us."

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