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Lady Mustangs beat Liberty Hill

Marble Falls vs Liberty Hill girls basketball

Marble Falls High School sophomore post Lexie Edwards sets her feet before using a power dribble to score a bucket from the low block during the Lady Mustangs' 37-31 win against Liberty Hill on Jan. 4. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro

Knowing playoff spots are being determined by the thinnest of margins, the Marble Falls High School girls’ basketball team did enough to earn a 37-31 district victory against Liberty Hill on Tuesday, Jan. 4.

The Lady Mustangs (16-8 overall, 2-2 District 25-5A) held off the Lady Panthers (17-9, 2-2) in the final 2 minutes and 14 seconds and capitalized on opportunities when it was time. 

“We found a way to win,” said Marble Falls head coach John Berkman. “We talk a lot about good teams winning games you’re supposed to. It was ugly, but a win is a win. It’s always important to win at home.”  

Marble Falls led 24-16 with 2:44 remaining in the third quarter and had an opportunity to extend the lead. But the Lady Mustangs missed five consecutive free throws, while the Lady Panthers went on a 7-0 run to close the deficit to 24-23 headed into the final quarter. 

The Lady Mustangs missed another pair of free throws to begin the fourth, but that stopped on the next possession when junior point guard Tea Rodriguez made both ends of the one-and-one. That started a chain reaction of buckets that each team matched. 

With the score tied at 28-28, Rodriguez hit a 3-pointer from the left side off of an assist from sophomore post Lexie Edwards, who drew the defense and gave the shooter a wide-open look. Junior Avie Nail added two free throws to give Marble Falls some breathing room at 33-28. 

From that point on, it was a matter of making fewer mistakes and hitting free shots — which happened thanks to junior Alyssa Berkman and Rodriguez in the final 36 seconds — for the victory.

Marble Falls was 14 of 28 from the foul line, down from its normal average of 70 percent. 

Liberty Hill challenged the Lady Mustangs’ toughness — both physically and mentally — with its aggressive and quick half-court trap defense in which the Lady Panthers double teamed Edwards on the low block and were fast to double team ball handlers near sidelines. 

Edwards used her height and low-post moves to get 10 points from different spots on the lane. Rodriguez led with 13 points, hitting three 3-pointers and going 4 of 7 from the free-throw line.

“Lexie draws a lot of attention to herself. She’s a good player and she’s tall,” Berkman said. “Tea is one of our top scorers. She does a lot for us. That 3-pointer she had in the fourth quarter was huge for us.”

The coach noted his daughter, Nail, and junior Emma Bindseil contributed by playing tough defense, forcing turnovers, and hustling down loose balls to save possessions. 

“The girls listened during timeouts and were doing what they’re asked to do and executed the game plan,” he said. 

The Marble Falls boys (0-15, 0-2) lost 105-28 to Liberty Hill (18-4, 0-2), which had a powerful offensive performance in the first quarter, going on a 19-6 scoring streak for a 27-8 advantage. 

Marble Falls travels to Leander Glenn, 1320 Collaborative Way in Leander, on Friday, Jan. 7. The girls take the court at 6:30 p.m., and the boys will follow.

jfierro@thepicayune.com