LIBERAL, Mo. — A pair of freshmen for St. Mary’s Colgan helped the Panthers turn a five-point halftime lead into a 53-29 rout of the Liberal Bulldogs in the Tony Dubray Classic in girls basketball in Liberal, Missouri, Wednesday night.
Freshmen Aubri Piccini and Cathy Farmer scored 11 and 10 points, respectively to help lead the Panthers (5-3) into the semi final round of the tournament where they will face Lockwood on Friday afternoon.
“Honestly, after the Christmas break, (Piccini and Farmer) are not freshmen anymore,” said Colgan head coach Abby Farabi in her post game interview with Trent Kling of 100.7 FM. “They need to score and the sky’s the limit for them. They’re doing the things that we expect them to do.”
Both teams kept it close in the first half as Colgan’s lead was only 9-8 heading into the second quarter.
“The first two possessions we turned it over,” Farabi said. “We were stagnant. We had to play to our abilities. We weren’t playing to our abilities in that first half.”
They responded in the second half with a 12-0 run to take a 38-23 lead at the end of the third quarter.
Sydney Russell had 11 points and six steals while Haydn Dawson finished with eight points, seven rebounds and four assists. Marci VanBecelaere finished with four points while Emily Paterni had seven points.
The Panthers shot 49 percent from the field, going 23-of-47. Liberal was 12-of-39.
Colgan out-rebounded Liberal, 33-23. The Bulldogs had 12 steals while the Panthers had 14.
Kaylee Daniels had six points for the Bulldogs while Callie Cornell and Jaci Coleman both finished with two points apiece. Mallory Gazaway had five points.
Both teams combined for 15 turnovers in the first half, early in the second quarter.
Piccini dribbled home a trey to put the Panthers in front. Mallory Gazaway responded with a basket of her own to tie it up at 11.
No team could build a lead of more than three points through much of the first half.
With 5:02 left before the first half, Sydney Russell scored from the charity stripe. Shortly after, Piccini grabbed her own rebound and dished it to Farmer who drilled the shot and the Panthers were on a shooting streak.
Russell scored her third point of the night from the line to give Colgan an 18-11 advantage to make it a 7-0 Panther run.
But the Bulldogs responded with two quick shots to pull to within three points of the Panthers.
Paterni ended the Bulldogs’ 6-0 run with a field goal.
Liberal’s struggles at the free thrown line continued as they went 0-6 in the first half and the Panthers capitalized after the fifth miss to go up by five with 27 seconds before halftime. Colgan led 22-17 at the half.
Dawson registered her second assist of the night off a steal early in the third quarter and the Panthers kept their distance away from the Bulldogs.
Russell made it 36-21 before Liberal took a timeout in the third.
“In that first half, we weren’t getting the rotation right,” Farabi said. “In the second half, we picked up the intensity. Sydney Russell is a hustler. She’s a great player.”
The Panthers continued to dominate in the fourth quarter.
Russell hit two free throws and the Panthers stayed in front.
The Bulldogs managed to hit a few free throws but they didn’t stop the Panthers from taking a 51-29 late in the game. The Bulldogs finished 4 of 20 from the line.
The Panthers will next face Lockwood who defeated Crest in the first round. Liberal will face Crest in the consolation bracket.
“I have not watched (Lockwood) play this season,” Farabi said. “We take it a game at a time. We played them this summer. It’s going to be a tough game but it’s nothing that we can’t handle.”
Michael Bauer is a sports reporter for the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at email@example.com and follow him on twitter at @michaeljohn391.