Liberty girls hoops overpowered by Staley in state sectionals

Liberty senior guard Ava Murphy during a Missouri Class 5 girls basketball state sectionals game Wednesday, March 10 at Staley High School.

LIBERTY — The Liberty girls basketball team's stellar postseason run came to an end in a blowout loss against Staley in the state sectionals.

Staley beat the Blue Jays 75-50 Wednesday, March 3 at Staley High School and ultimately advanced to the Show-Me Showdown final four with a 58-43 win over Lee’s Summit West in the Falcons next outing.

Liberty found itself trailing 9-1 in the early going before Ella Lawrence responded with two quick 3-pointers and Katie Mihelic delivered a traditional 3-point play to take a 10-9 advantage.

Staley took back the lead but the Blue Jays kept it tight through the first quarter before the Falcons rebuilt their double-digit lead to 39-21 by halftime and never looked back.

Liberty senior guard Aryonna Straws led the team with 10 points and five rebounds to go along with two assists and a steal. Lawrence added another triple in the first half to finish with 9 points on a perfect 3 of 3 from deep.

Sophomore guard Oliviya Tinoco added 8 points and three rebounds while Marianna Tomc contributed 7 points and three rebounds. Senior guard Ava Murphy finished with 5 points, two rebounds and an assist.

Liberty finished the year with an impressive postseason run after starting the year 1-6 and going to 2-5 at the end of conference play heading into districts.

The Blue Jays responded by winning a district championship in a 46-45 overtime thriller against Truman. Lawrence hit a buzzer beater at the end of regulation and Ava Murphy hit two free throws with less than a second left in the extra period to clinch the title.

The Staley loss marked the end of the high school careers for Straws, Murphy and Amber Mears. Murphy transferred to Liberty this season, but the other two were a part of three district championship seasons, including a fourth-place state finish during their freshman year. Murphy, who previously played for Richmond, crossed the 1,000-point scoring mark this year.

Sports Writer Mac Moore can be reached at 389-6643 or mac.moore@mycouriertribune.com.

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