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Liberty girls defeat FHS

Liberty’s girls basketball team honored seniors Julia Medaska, Ruby Miller, Iysis Nickens, Emma Pukszyn, Abby Thompson, Jordan Thompson, and Ally Walker on Feb. 2 when the Hurricanes defeated arch rival Freedom, 52-33.

“It ended up being great that it could work out like that, and the environment was great because we got the Little ‘Canes to come because it was Freedom-Lib,” said Hurricane guard Emma Pukszyn (9 points). “The energy we had here, I think that really helped us beat Freedom too. I’ve been able to see all the other Senior Nights here, so to be able to play for mine was a great experience.”

Pukszyn’s 3-pointer near the end of the third quarter put a stop to Freedom’s run that threatened the Hurricanes.

“They played really hard out of halftime, and I think we had to calm down and get back to what we were doing in the first half,” Pukszyn said.

Jordan McIlroy’s five points brought the Pates back to life after trailing by nine at the half and prompted a Liberty timeout.

Lex McNeil (7 points), Malyea Gonzalez (7 points), and McIlroy (14 points) combined for five more Patriot points before Pukszyn’s triple.

“The patience that we had on that one was everyone being confident, and trusting each other, and trying to get that open look,” said Pukszyn. “It was good, and I felt like it was good momentum for the team too.”

On Freedom’s next possession, control of the ball was lost and almost recovered by the Patriots, but the scrappy Anijah Davis got it back for Liberty and scored to end the quarter.

Miller (13 points) drained a 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter, swinging the momentum back to Liberty.

Allie Sena landed a triple for Freedom, but Liberty scored 10 straight points including four by Jordan Thompson (9 points) and four by Nickens (8 points).

“I saw that number 2 (Sara Kokolus) was guarding me and she was giving me a lot of room, so I just pulled up, and I knew it was going in. I knew to go up strong, and I’m very good under the basket,” Nickens said. “The crowd was hype. I loved the support. It was great. The special part about it was that we won, and it’s our last time versus Freedom, so we got to win on our Senior Night. My family being here, and my coaches, and my teammates were here to support me as well.”

A fast-paced first quarter, along with triples by Miller, Abby Thompson, and Jordan Thompson set the tone for the Hurricanes’ Senior Night.

“We wanted to push the ball and get it moving because we play better when we move quicker,” said Pukszyn, “so I thought we did a good job of being able to run and push the ball.”

Press photo by Mark Kirlin Liberty's Emma Pukszyn drives to the basket as Freedom's Jordan MacIlroy defends.