Phoenix Liberty defeated Prescott 65-44 on Friday in a Division II tournament second-round game, but it wasn’t without a fight from Prescott.
“We knew it was going to be a scrappy ballgame,” Liberty coach Odell Berry said. “You got nine seniors sitting over there, and they’re not ready for it to end. I know my three seniors aren’t ready for it to end. So we knew they were going to come out and give us all they’ve got and they did.”
Liberty took the lead early in the game, with Courtney Christmas scoring the first bucket of the game with a three-point shot from the top of the key. She then stole the ball from Prescott and started a breakaway for a layup.
But that was all Christmas was able to do for the first half.
Liberty controlled the first quarter, overwhelming Prescott’s half-court zone defense with multiple shots from three-point range. It led Prescott 21-11 for the first seven minutes of play, and nine of Liberty’s players were able to score.
Prescott was then able to hold Liberty to eight points in the second quarter. Prescott switched the defense from zone to man-to-man to eliminate the outside shots and force turnovers from Liberty.
But that is where Prescott became unable to hold Liberty any longer.
“They were pretty gassed in the second half, and we still had fresh legs,” Berry said.
Christmas came back on in the third and fourth quarters, scoring 11 points, to solidify Liberty’s lead.
“We came out more playing as a team in the second than we did in the first,” she said. “We figured out our problems we were having, and we just came out stronger.”
Christmas scored 14 points, junior Tiffany Marino had 10 and Ashleigh Vellutato had eight for Liberty.
Prescott made use of seniors Autumn Childers and Brette Anderson, who each had 12 point, and Jay Sneeden, who had nine.
“They gave us a great ball game,” Berry said.
“The score got a little lopsided at the end but we were only up by about eight points at the end of the third.”