Liberty’s season ends at regionals

March 3, 2014

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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NEW — 4:30 p.m. March 3, 2014

By Greg Farrar Ashlan Applegate, Liberty High School senior forward, throws up three of her 10 points to open the second quarter against Cleveland in their 3A state regional loser-out game March 1.

By Greg Farrar
Ashlan Applegate, Liberty High School senior forward, throws up three of her 10 points to open the second quarter against Cleveland in their 3A state regional loser-out game March 1.

If anyone had any questions about the Liberty High School girls basketball team’s season goal, they need only to look at the players’ forearms as they stepped on the Bellevue College court for a March 1 loser-out, winner-to-state game.

Scrawled in black, capital letters was the acronym DIFD — Do it for the Dome, the Tacoma Dome, that is.

The Patriots’ road to the state tournament, held at the Tacoma Dome, came to an end March 1, after a 48-35 loss to top-ranked Cleveland.

“We didn’t quite get to the Tacoma Dome and that final eight, but we’re all so proud of what they’ve done, what they’ve accomplished,” first-year coach Curtis Terry said of his team.

Liberty had the unfortunate task of facing Cleveland in the state’s regional round, just 11 days after the Eagles beat them, 70-28, in the district tournament.

The Patriots used that experience, and the extra time to prepare for Cleveland, to craft a game plan that ensured the more than 40-point deficit wouldn’t happen again, Terry said.

“We felt for us to have the best chance of succeeding against them was to slow the game down,” he said. “We tried to make them score from the outside, as opposed to getting to the basket and scoring in transition and for the most part, we were able to do that throughout the game.”

Liberty was down just 7-5 after the first quarter, despite Cleveland’s suffocating defense, which made it difficult for the Patriots to just move the ball down court.

Throughout the first half, Liberty displayed the toughness required to go up against the Eagles, ranked the No. 1 3A girls team in the state. Just when Cleveland appeared to be running away with the game, the Patriots would respond with a run of their own.

Liberty went into halftime down just five points, a far cry from the Patriots’ Feb. 18 matchup with Cleveland, when they were losing 34-15 as they headed to the locker room.

Cleveland’s lead grew to nine points, after the third quarter, and the Eagles eventually sealed the deal with their 16-point fourth quarter.

Despite the loss, Liberty was still among the state’s top 16 teams, evidenced by its spot in the regional round, in a year when no one really gave them a chance, Terry said.

“We exceeded everybody’s goal except for our own,” he said. “Everybody expected us to have an average season, but from the onset, the girls wanted to make a run at the league championship, and ultimately, to make it to the Tacoma Dome. We really proved a lot of people wrong.”

Senior Ashlan Applegate and junior Cherelle Demps led the Patriots with 10 points each for the Cleveland game. Applegate, who earned second-team All-KingCo honors, also added 10 rebounds.

“Ashlan did a little bit of everything for us this year,” Terry said. “She’s not a player that has to get shots to be effective.”

Captain Sierra Carlson, also a senior, didn’t have her best game against Cleveland, but she joined Applegate as a second-team All-KingCo performer.

“She was a great extension of myself on the court,” Terry said. “She would be on the court, echoing what I had to say, making sure everyone was in the right spots.”

In his first year leading the Patriots, Terry was named KingCo 3A/2A Coach of the Year. Players often pointed to him as the reason for Liberty’s quick turnaround this year, but he was quick to give all the credit to his girls.

“That honor is just a reflection of the girls and the work that they put in,” he said. “They worked so hard, made sacrifices and they made a commitment not only to me but to each other.”

Liberty finished the season with a 19-8 record.

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