Junior center Bernadette Fong scored 23 and sophomore forward Gabrielle Freeman 12 to lead the Liberty attack. Junior point guard Maddie Craig led Foothill in scoring with 10.
Leading by one point with nine seconds remaining in the game, the Falcons inbounded the ball. Their guards moved the ball around, avoiding the Liberty players trying to foul. Eventually the foul was committed but with just over three seconds on the clock. Foothill junior guard Megan Clark missed the front end of one-in-one free throws and Fong grabbed the rebound, but Liberty had no timeouts left. When Fong’s outlet pass to Freeman was deflected, the game was over.
“It was a tough loss,” said head coach Debbi Weil. “It was a tough loss because the kids played so hard all season and I don’t think we played to our full potential tonight. But overall, we have eight kids coming back, but I will really miss the seniors.”
Tuesday’s game was the last game at Liberty for seniors Gabby Worley, Samantha Simpkins, Ally Mackenzie and an injured Jessi Zahn.
While the game was close all the way through, the Lions led for most of the contest. Foothill enjoyed a two-point lead after three quarters but Liberty quickly got that back and led by as many as five in the final quarter. The difference in the game came down to balance. Only four Lions put points on the board compared to the Falcons' 10.
Liberty’s season ends with a record of 16-10, 6-4 in Bay Valley Athletic League play. After going 2-3 in the first half of league play, the Lions responded with a 4-1 mark in the second half, losing only their season finale to league champion Deer Valley.
“I've been coaching for a lot of years, and this team is a very special team,” said Weil. “We had some height but we didn’t have that 6-4 girl anymore. They came together as a team. They’re a great group, even when I got frustrated; it was hard to get mad at them. My heart breaks more than they’ll ever know for this loss tonight.”
Deer Valley 73, Irvington 38
Visiting Irvington started Tuesday’s game with a lead, but finished on the business end of a Deer Valley rout. The third-seeded Wolverines went on a 13-2 run to end the first quarter and never looked back, winning 73-38.
“We played hard, had a little slow start, but I thought we got it together,” head coach Mark Anger said. “We have to force turnovers and we have to force tempo, and that’s what we did.”
Senior guard Raven Fox, who will play for Fresno State next year, scored a team-high 22 points. Sophomore guard Sabrea Coleman, coming off the bench, added 17 more for Deer Valley, which will face No. 6 seed Monte Vista at home on Friday. The Mustangs beat Heritage 49-41 to advance to the next round.
It was never much of a game. The Wolverines pulled out to a 35-19 lead by halftime and finished the third quarter up 56-28. In the fourth quarter, Deer Valley’s reserves outscored the Vikings’ seniors.
Anger prided his team on capitalizing on turnovers and mistakes, something they’ve been working on all season long. Fox credited the defense for taking Irvington out of the game early.
“We want to be able to capitalize every time and get a possession out of our press,” Fox said. “It’s not easy, but it’s a good thing.”
The Vikings were led by Michelle Lee’s 14 points. Nicole Ho scored 11 more for 14th-seeded Irvington, which finished its season 13-13.
Monte Vista 49, Heritage 41
Heritage saw its surprising season come to an end Tuesday night in a 49-41 loss to East Bay Athletic League foe Monte Vista in the first round of the NCS playoffs.
The 11th-seeded Patriots at one point looked to challenge the Wolverines for Bay Valley Athletic League supremacy, but that dream must wait another year. Its roster full of sophomores, Heritage will look to use the experience to build off of this year’s playoff push.
The Patriots finished their season 17-9.
Staff Writer Justin Lafferty contributed to this story.