POWELL – The Olentangy Liberty girls basketball team seemingly missed from 3-point range in every conceivable way. And no, Newark didn’t have a lid on the rim – it only seemed that way.
Fast forward to a night later and the Patriots zeroed in on their target. They connected on seven triples in the second quarter alone, including five during a 19-3 run to break a 10-10 tie.
Kelly Levering knocked down three during the run, four overall, and finished with 19 points, leading Liberty to a lopsided 65-38 win over Teays Valley Wednesday in non-league play.
“Coming off a disappointing night like the night in Newark – I think we just needed the lid to get off the basket,” Liberty coach Sam Krafty said. “When it did – I think the kids felt the weight coming off their shoulders.”
Levering assisted Teegan Pifher on a short jumper to break the tie with 6:20 left in the half and then assisted Caitlin Splain on the next possession to push the lead to 15-10.
Kiera McClosky followed with a 3 before Megan Bush answered for TV.
Levering connected on her first off a Jessie Barna offensive rebound and assist.
“Kelly Levering’s job – if she’s open – is to shoot it,” Krafty said. “She hit one and missed the next one and I called her over and told her that she needs to be tough enough to just keep shooting and she did. I’m really proud of her for doing that.”
She followed with back-to-back triples after a pair of Pifher free throws – both off of Barna assists – and just that quick Liberty led 29-13.
“Coming from Coach Krafty – that’s the most encouraging thing he could ever say to me,” Levering said. “So, him telling me that just means the world to me that he still believes in me.”
Pifher and Betsy Merritt each knocked down 3s as Liberty pushed the lead to 35-18 at the break and never looked back.
“They made shots,” TV coach Joel Baker said. “They moved the ball well and got us rotating slow and knocked down every open shot they had. I think they did a nice job of spreading us out. They worked the ball inside well early and started kicking it out.”
Pifher finished with 17 points and McCloskey added nine for the Patriots (14-7), who had dropped three of four coming into Wednesday’s game.
Liberty finished with 18 assists on 24 made baskets, led by Levering and Barna with four apiece. Barna had 12 rebounds, Levering had nine and Pifher finished with eight for Liberty, which is the Central District’s 10-seed in the upcoming tournament.
“When you get 12 rebounds from one of your guards (Barna) – you know that kid is playing hard,” Krafty said. “Defensively, she was excellent as well. We gave her the assignment of (guarding) one of the best 3-point shooters (Reagan Willingham) in central Ohio and she had one.”
Kierstyn Liming had 14 points and Bush added 11 to lead the Vikings (17-3), who had an 11-game winning streak snapped.
“Good things happen to those who play hard,” Baker said. “I thought my older kids tried to force it a little bit instead of taking things that were there. I felt like Megan and Kierstyn played hard. It wasn’t pretty – they just got buckets from playing hard.”
Liming, Bush and Bri Russell each pulled down 11 rebounds to lead TV, which is the 11-seed in the district tournament.
Liberty concludes its regular season Friday night at Westerville Central. The OCC-Buckeye contest is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at [email protected]