Liberty's 1-3 showing at the WCJ dropped the team's record to 3-7 for the season; its only victory came at the expense of Valley, who finished last in the field of 16.
"We're struggling to play team ball and it's showing on the court," said head coach Shelley DeLange. "We played in a tough division and we needed to come in ready to play. We weren't as mentally prepared as I would have liked."
The Lady Lions played the first quarter against Sir Francis Drake, to whom they fell in the first round 58-47, without starting center Leanna Richey. Richey, who recently signed a letter of intent to attend Saint Mary's on a basketball scholarship, was missing for half of Liberty's practice and was sentenced to a quarter on the pine per team policy.
On a positive note, seniors Cuyla Coogan and Olivia Humphrey both played well for the Lady Lions throughout the tournament.
"They've both started finding their place on the team," explained DeLange.
With the Bay Valley Athletic League schedule beginning this week, there's still time for this talented team to turn this season around.
"The skill level is there," explained DeLange. "But it will take selflessness and teamwork to turn it around. I can use substitutions to try to get their best effort, but they have to get it done out on the court."
Liberty opened its BVAL schedule versus Pittsburg after the Press went to print. The Lady Lions take the court again Friday, Jan. 5 at 7 p.m., when they travel to Heritage to take on the Patriots.
And the winners are …
Branson was crowned Diamond Division Champion on Saturday night after defeating Placer 40-24. Branson won each of its four games by double digits. Its 16-point margin of victory over Placer was its slimmest of the tournament. The Bulls average margin of victory over their championship run was a robust 24.5.
Just after Branson hoisted its trophy, Bishop O'Dowd was wrapping up its Onyx Division championship run in the Stonebarger Gym. The Dragons took down Bear River in overtime, 66-57, to claim the title.