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The Falcons drop their finale in the Pacific Office Automation Holiday Classic, Dec 28-30.

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Liberty freshman Kaliyah Chronister dribbles the ball up the court during the Falcons' game against Annie Wright as part of the Pacific Office Automation Holiday Classic Thursday, Dec. 30, at Grant High School.Youth is being served at Liberty High School this girls basketball season, but with it you have to take the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The young Falcons have had a little bit of it all thus far, and undoubtedly did in a 55-40 loss to Annie Wright—a private all girls school in Tacoma, WA—as part of the Pacific Office Automation Holiday Classic Thursday afternoon, Dec. 30, at Grant High School.

Liberty (3-5) led by four after a quarter, five at the halftime break, and trailed by just two after three quarters, but managed only nine fourth quarter points while allowing 22 to the Gators en route to the second loss in three games at the tournament held Dec. 28-30 at Grant, Franklin, and McDaniel high schools.

"The girls are learning," Liberty head coach Melanie Wagoner said. "We've graduated a lot of kids the last two years, so with a new group there's going to be a learning curve. Some days we're in it, and some days we aren't as much, but we're getting there."

Despite struggling to score for much of the second half, it was the defense that primarily let the Falcons down over the final two quarters.

Annie Wright's senior guard Jazmyn Stone led all scorers with 29 points, but 24 of those came in the second half. Wagoner didn't point to Stone's performance specifically, but more so to her team's lack of execution as the culprit for the Rams' 39-point second-half explosion.

"This new group is still learning to play together," the coach said. "I feel like today our rotations just weren't disciplined enough and that's a big part of it. You have to be able to make adjustments and read the plays, but we struggled with that and doing it together today."

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Liberty's Amara Harper goes up for a shot during the Falcons' game against Annie Wright as part of the Pacific Office Automation Holiday Classic Thursday, Dec. 30, at Grant High School.It wasn't all bad for Liberty however, for they repeatedly showed flashes of what's to come as the team ages.

Junior guard Amara Harper led the Falcons in scoring, tallying 12 points while grabbing six rebounds. Harper, along with freshman guard Kaliyah Chronister, were key to Liberty's first-half lead, accounting for 11 of the teams' 20 first-half points and repeatedly setting up second opportunities with gritty work in the paint.

Chronister finished with 10 points and led her team with seven rebounds. She's one of two freshman on the team to go with three sophomores and four juniors, with just two seniors to lead the way. It's that youth—along with a play here and there—that has Wagoner frustrated at times, but mostly excited for what this team can become the remainder of this season and beyond.

"The kids are just figuring out their different roles and their positions," she said. "It's just going to take some time to figure things out, learn to play together and understand that basketball is a game of mistakes, and it's okay to make mistakes, you just have to keep playing."

And that's what the Holiday Classic, along with every other time they're on the court is about—gaining the experience necessary to make the strides in the direction they want to go.

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Liberty's Makenzie Harper during the Falcons' game against Annie Wright as part of the Pacific Office Automation Holiday Classic Thursday, Dec. 30, at Grant High School. Harper was named to the all-tournament team.Liberty dropped their tournament opener to a good Tualatin team, but bounced back with a nine-point win over South Salem before their finale against Annie Wright. Wagoner said she's seen her team getting better, but at the same time understands that it's a process that can't and won't happen overnight.

"I definitely feel like they're improving," the coach said. "Yesterday was a great example of how they've come together and you can see them support each other. They're frustrated at times not getting the results they want, especially in today's world where everything's immediate all of the time. But I'm really proud of them sticking together, always ready and wanting that next piece."

Liberty's Makenzie Harper was selected to the all-tournament team at the conclusion of the game.

Liberty's scoreres included: Harper 12, Chronister 10, Abbie Scharringhausen 6, Makenzie Harper 5, Gianna Gray 4, Maddy Miramontes 2, Sage Reamer 1.


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