May 21st, 2019

gilmore layupAudrey Gilmore lays in a basket after getting a steal Thursday in The Big House during the Sub-State tournament opener against Wichita West. Gilmore scored 10 points in a 45-13 win. According to Wichita West head coach Marcus Myers, Gilmore took the Lady Pioneers out of their game plan when she started the game with back-to-back threes. L&T photo/Earl WattBy EARL WATT

• Leader & Times

Liberal has been there.

From years of struggling to win games and being competitive to competing for state tournament appearances, the Liberal Lady Redskin program has seen improvement from some challenging years under Bill Baird and now with the success of four winning seasons under coach Carter Kruger.

After winning a play-in game, a 60-36 win for the Wichita West Lady Pioneers over winless Junction City, coach Marcus Myers and his players not only had to battle the undefeated Lady Redskins, but they had to face The Big House atmosphere with ‘That’ Liberal Band, the Rowdy Crowd student section and a packed gym.

The fans were in it from the start, with chants so loud it disrupted the Wichita West team, according to their coach.

“Our girls were stunned the second the ball was tipped,” Myers said. “That was their sixth man, that did it. Our girls couldn’t hear me, I couldn’t hear them, we couldn’t communicate. Our girls were stunned by the fans. Liberal did that very well. That’s something that we never saw before.”

The Redskin Nation showed up Thursday along with a tribute to the 1976 Lady Redskin team, the last girls team to win the state championship.

And they added weight to every basket, making the challenge for the visiting Lady Pioneers that much more difficult.

Myers had an idea of what to expect coming to Liberal, but it was nothing like he thought.

“I talked with some in the city league, and they told us what it was like,” he said. “But until you come experience it, you don’t understand it.”

Myers was also complimentary of the Lady Redskins on the court.

“Liberal played a perfect game,” he said. “Everyone was ready on their team. We went in, we thought (Audrey Gilmore), that was are in. But she knocked down those two threes and our whole game plan changes. Every aspect of the game — defense, offense, rebounds, energy — Liberal executed very well.”

Wichita West turned in a 4-18 season as Myers works at developing his program. But he is seeing the signs needed for his team to become competitive in the Wichita City League.

“Consistency, change the culture and try to build, that’s what we are working on,” he said. “We have a lot of young girls. They are trying to understand the game, raise their intelligence of the game. We had everyone show up to practice every day, and that was a big start. Before I got there, it was a little different. I was proud of these girls doing the right things and believing. They needed someone who believed in them. This is how we got here.”

And winning a post season play-in game may be the first step in taking the program to the next level.

“Winning that play-in game was huge for us,” Myers said. “That was like our Super Bowl. That’s where we have to start. Tonight was a blue print of where we want to be, just like Liberal.”

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