By EARL WATT
• Daily Leader
Liberal Lady Redskins coach Shane Stout expected to put winless McCook away early.
It never happened.
Instead, the Lady Redskins had to hit free throws down the stretch to hold off McCook at the Colby Orange and Black Classic to earn a gritty 43-37 win.
For the second game in a row, the Lady Redskins started slow, which allowed McCook to build confidence in the first half. By halftime the Lady Redskins only had a three-point lead, and Stout had a lengthy discussion with his team at the break about their intensity.
"We didn't rebound well in the first half, and we shot poorly," Stout said. "We played hard in the third quarter and outscored them 12-5."
Liberal headed to the fourth quarter with a 10-point lead, but McCook still did not go away. Justice Norah had to hit five fourth-quarter free throws to secure the six-point victory.
"The effort in the third quarter is what we need for all 32 minutes," Stout said. "We show spurts of being good, we just aren't very consistent right now."
Norah led the team with 22 points, Malyssa WIlliams had seven, and Kayla Payton scored six.
Liberal won't have the luxury of getting off to a slow start today. The Lady Redskins face the No. 3 Bishop Carroll Lady Golden Eagles at 3 p.m.
Bishop Carroll advanced by routing Scott City 53-28.
"This is the best team we've seen in a couple years," Stout said. "They are loaded at all five positions. They have 6-foot girls on the inside that are big and strong. They have guards that can shoot, and they pressure you defensively. They take care of the ball. They are ranked third for a reason, they are an excellent team. We will have to come out with a better effort and be ready to play."