GARLAND — The Red Oak Lady Hawks started the game on Friday night at the Culwell Center in Garland as the odds-on favorites to take the Region II- 5A spot in the Texas State Girls Basketball Tournament scheduled for next week in San Antonio.
Unfortunately, the ladies from Frisco Liberty had other plans. In the end, Liberty’s continued lead and their enduring defense were too much to overcome as Red Oak fell short 42-36.
The first quarter was a back and forth affair with Liberty taking a 9-7 lead into the second quarter. Liberty expanded the lead to 20-13 by halftime. Red Oak was able to trim some of the Liberty advantage to 28-23 as they entered the fourth quarter.
Heading into the fourth quarter the Lady Hawks looked to be on a mission to put away the pesky girls from Frisco. However, the Liberty Red Hawks overtook the team from Red Oak with timely shooting and solid team defense to snatch the win and gain the opportunity to play for the state title.
Liberty was led, for the most part, by three players. Junior guard Lily Ziemkiewicz, who had only five points on the evening, was really the main playmaker and defensive stopper. The other Liberty players were junior Maya Jain with 10 points and sophomore Jazzy Owens-Barnett, who led all scorers from both teams with 23 points and was pretty much unstoppable when the game was still in question.
Liberty went on to beat Midlothian, 48-43, on Saturday to clinch the region championship and state semifinal berth.
Red Oak was led by senior guard Micah Cooper with 16 points, and junior forward Aniyah Johnson added 10 points before she fouled out midway through the decisive fourth quarter.
Red Oak finished the season with an outstanding record of 28-6. The experience provided throughout the regular season, as well as their playoff run, will benefit them greatly next year.