Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Liberty’s Camille Vestal drives the lane against Riverdale. She led the Hawks with 12 points and also equaled Riverdale’s total during a Dec. 29 victory.
Before ringing in the new year, the Liberty Hawks girls basketball team picked up a pair of wins, capped off by a 44-12 victory over the Riverdale Cowgirls
“It’s a good feeling to see success on the court,” second year head coach Ashley Chavira said. “They are happy and excited to come out to play everyday. We tell them to have fun. Even if they lose a game, they know they worked hard. It doesn’t feel like a loss. It’s like a stepping stone to move forward.”
The victory over the Cowgirls on Dec. 29. was Liberty’s second 25-plus point victory of the week. The Hawks defeated the Minarets Mustangs 43-16 two days before and recorded their seventh win Wednesday with a 45-28 victory over Fowler on the first day of the Parlier tournament to match last season’s win total.
“I’ve seen a lot of improvement over the past year,” Chavira said. “They have made more of an effort to come to our offseason workouts. This year, I’ve had between 7-15 girls to the workouts. Last year, I had two people every day. Our numbers have grown and they have put in more work. We have made tremendous improvements. It has to do with them working hard and believing they can be better than they were last year.”
Against Riverdale, the Hawks allowed just one point in the second half and outscored the Cowgirls 36-12 after the first quarter.
All seven players scored for the Hawks, led by Camille Vestal’s 12 points. Leeasia Whetsal added 11 points. Madison Devine and Breanna Melgoza each scored six points.
“A team only rotates 7-8 players, anyway,” Chavira said. “For us, we don’t have the extra 5-6 players on the bench. Playing with eight last year and seven this year, it’s more comfortable to us.”
The Hawks jumped out to an 8-6 first quarter lead behind six points from Vestal. Liberty opened the second quarter with a 9-0 run to take control of the game.
Melgoza opened the quarter scoring with a layup. Devine hit a five-foot jumper and put back a miss. After Devine pulled down a rebound, she found Melgoza for a layup. Vestal added a layup for a 17-6 lead.
After a Riverdale jumper, Melgoza turned a steal into a layup. Riverdale added a 3-pointer for its final points of the half.
Liberty closed the quarter with six straight points — a free throw from Teagan Tovsrud, a layup by Vestal off a rebound and assist by Whetsal and an Ashton Berry 3-pointer at the first half buzzer — for a 25-11 lead.
The Hawks opened the second half by scoring the first nine points. Whetsal led the surge with a free throw, a layup, a coast-to-coast layup after a rebound and a layup from Berry. Berry also found Devine for a layup during the run and a 34-11 lead.
The Cowgirls scored their only point of the second half with a free throw with 1:51 left in the third quarter.
Scottee Tovsrud made a free throw and Vestal hit a 3-pointer to cloes out the third quarter scoring with a 38-12 lead.
Whetsal and Berry made free throws to open the fourth quarter scoring. However, it took almost five minutes before either team scored.
Teagan Tovsrud ended the drought with a 12-foot jumper with about two minutes left in the game. Whetsal ended the scoring with a steal and layup for the 44-12 final.