Last season, Liberal girls finished 23-2 and third in 5A with a victory against Maize in the third-place contest. Liberal’s first-round victory against St. James marked the first state win for the Redskin girls since 1987.
This year, Liberal returns much of its top players for coach Carter Kruger, who has turned around the program. Kruger had previously coached the Barton County women for three winters and had a 52-41 record.
Now in his fourth year at Liberal, Kruger has led Liberal to 11-9, 17-5 and 23-2 seasons. The winter before he came, the Redskins won just four games. Last year marked the best Liberal season since a 21-2 mark in ’08-09.
In 2018-19, Liberal has moved to Class 6A after a long stint in 5A. The Redskins are ranked fifth in 6A and have enjoyed a 6-0 start with its last win a 59-38 victory versus Perryton, Tex. on Dec. 14.
The Redskins went 3-0 in the Clarion Inn Roundball Classic in Garden City. Juniors Katie Horyna and Machia Mullens both made the all-tournament team, and Horyna was tournament MVP. Horyna, a first team all-state 5A selection last year, had 12, 23 and 21 points in the three contests. Mullens is a former all-state honorable mention pick.
Last year, Horyna averaged 13 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.4 steals a game. Mullens had 11.4 points and 7.6 rebounds. The Redskins have captured every game by at least 20 points this win and are off until Jan. 4 when they have a big home matchup with Hays High in Western Athletic Conference play.
Thus far, Horyna is at 19 points, four rebounds and 3.8 assists a game. Mullens averages 13.3 points and 6.3 rebounds.
A strong supporting cast includes sophomore Aubrey Warden (six points per game), senior Whitney Hay (4.5 ppg), junior Audrey Gilmore (2.7 assists, 1.8 steals) and senior Kim Alarcon. Hay and Alarcon are the lone seniors. Liberal is incredibly efficient from the foul line with 73 percent shooting last winter and 76 this season.
The Redskins easily lead the state in free throw percentage; no one else is above 73 percent, according to the MaxPreps statewide lists.
Horyna shoots 62 percent on 2-pointers, 79 percent from the foul line and 53 percent on 3s (9 of 17).
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